The summit will be held in Kyiv on 12 October 2021 and will discuss the political association and economic integration of Ukraine with the European Union, and the European Union’s support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Overview of the human rights situation in Ukraine
- We welcome Ukraine’s draft law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Laws of Ukraine on Standardisation of Activities and the State Registration of NGOs”;
- We welcome the Decree of the President of Ukraine, “On the National Strategy for Promoting the Development of Civil Society in Ukraine for 2021-2026” from September 27, 2021, that will facilitate intersectional cooperation and increase the sustainability of civil society institutions;
- We welcome Ukraine’s upholding of freedom of assembly in the context of recent successful Pride marches in Kyiv and Kharkiv. However, we are concerned with Zmina Human Rights Centre’s 53 documented attacks on human rights defenders in government-controlled territory in 2021, including a growing number against defenders working on the rights of LGBT persons;
- Zmina Human Rights Centre documented 53 attacks on human rights defenders in government-controlled territory in 2021, including against defenders working on the rights of LGBT persons; 21 new cases of persecution of activists and human rights defenders alone in second quarter of 2021:
- Cases involve destruction or damage of property (8), intimidation, threats and other forms of pressure (4), obstruction of the activities of an NGO (2), physical attacks (2), and legal persecution (2); persecutions of LGBTI activists (4), those opposing corruption (3), those opposing illegal construction (3), environmental protection activists (3), women’s rights activists (2), patients’ rights activists (1) and other civil activities (5);
- Report also highlights 10 bills constituting threats for the civil society sector being considered by the Parliament of Ukraine as of mid-summer 2021;
- Already in 2020, 101 cases recorded of persecution of civil activists or rights defenders in Ukraine;
- Slow investigation of attacks on civil activists and human rights defenders remains a risk for impunity;
- We are concerned by the resignation of Gyunduz Mamedov from the position of the Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine and further investigation of international crimes in Crimea.
- Security Agency reform bill draft legislation could grant broad powers in intelligence and law enforcement and risks undermining human rights and restricting freedom of information (see HRW statement, 8 October)
- There are more than 160 Crimean Tatars documented by Crimean Human Rights Group as political prisoners as a result of the occupation of Crimea; (see also CoE’s PACE Resolution 2387 (2021) on “Human rights violations committed against Crimean Tatars in Crimea”);
- Fabricated charges relating to anti-terrorism and anti-extremism legislation continue to be used against human rights defenders, lawyers, activists and journalists, with Crimean Tatar’s particularly targeted. We continue to raise two on-going cases of Crimean human rights defenders, in particular, those of Emir-Usein Kuku, and of Server Mustafayev, the coordinator of Crimean Solidarity;
- On the eve of the Crimean Tatar flag day, celebrated on 26 June, activists in occupied Crimea received “warnings about the unacceptability of violating the law”. According to such “warnings”, signed by the RF Ministry of Interior representatives, “uncoordinated gatherings were being planned in Crimea” by the activists receiving such “warnings”;
- Alone roughly 60 Crimean Tatars were detained on 4 and 5 September. The detentions included the arrest of Nariman Dzhelyal, the deputy head of the Mejlis, in what could be an act of reprisal following his participation in the Crimea Platform Summit the week before;
- The constant blocking of leading Ukrainian independent online media in occupied Crimea violates the right of Crimean residents to access information, one of the components of the right to freedom of expression.
We urge the EU to raise the following with Ukrainian authorities
- We ask the EU to discuss at the summit what additional steps Ukraine could take to increase protection for human rights defenders, both in the territory it controls and in territories currently outside its control;
- Access to Crimea by international monitors is critical to help address acute human rights issues faced by Crimeans. Hence Ukraine should do everything in its power to improve access, including by simplifying the procedure for entry of foreign journalists and human rights defenders;
- We ask the EU to urge Ukraine to work with civil society organisations to increase protection for all human rights defenders, including Volodymyr Yavorskyy, the human rights defender who was forced to leave his family behind in Belarus;
- Ukraine must help victims of unlawful political persecution in the occupied territories of Ukraine and Russia;
- The Ukrainian government must take immediate action to end the impunity of those connected with attacks against peaceful protesters, journalists and human rights defenders;
- Ukraine’s Parliament should refrain from adopting laws which limit the freedom of gathering and association in Ukraine and pose a threat to the work of human rights defenders and civil activists;
- Ukraine should ensure the effective investigation by the Prosecutor’s office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea of the facts of illegal detention and ill-treatment of Ukrainian political prisoners and all other facts of gross human rights violations in the temporarily occupied Crimea. The Prosecutor’s office should actively involve civil society and human rights NGOs for consultations;
- Ukraine should bring domestic criminal law in line with relevant international law (especially by adopting Draft Law No. 2689) and to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court to improve the capacity of the domestic justice system; and address at the legislative level the issue of access to justice as well as the issue of the return of citizens held in places of detention located in the occupied territories;
- Ukraine should remove discriminatory provisions towards Crimean residents, harmonize legislation and simplify administrative procedures for them on mainland Ukraine; guarantee state support for Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and Crimea and their families; and ensure Crimeans have access to Ukrainian citizenship;
- In relation to the above-mentioned human rights violations and concerns we ask the European Union to condemn and demand termination of Russia’s continuous efforts at violating human rights in occupied Crimea; utilize its Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime towards Russia and establish communication with human rights organisations that monitor and document human rights violations in occupied Crimea.