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Ukraine

    December 17, 2015

    Yesterday’s banning of the Communist Party in Ukraine is a flagrant violation of freedom of expression and association and should be immediately overturned, said Amnesty International.

    The District Administrative Court of Kyiv upheld the request of the Ukrainian Minister of Justice to ban the Communist Party. It will no longer be able to officially operate or participate in local elections.

    “The banning of the Communist Party in Ukraine sets a very dangerous precedent.  This move is propelling Ukraine backwards not forwards on its path to reform and greater respect for human rights,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia.

    Under four new laws adopted in May 2015, collectively known as “decommunization” laws, displaying Communist or Nazi symbols can lead to criminal prosecution and up to ten years imprisonment. The use of the term “communist” is explicitly prohibited by this legislation. However, the Communist Party of Ukraine refused to make changes to its name, logo or its charter.

    June 06, 2015

    Despite efforts by police today, Ukrainian authorities should have done more in advance to prevent violent attacks against gay Pride marchers several of whom were injured today, Amnesty International said.

    Lack of coordination with the event organisers and the failure to put an evacuation plan in place meant that, despite the presence of at least 1,500 police and national guard soldiers, about 10 protesters were injured when they were attacked by homophobic protesters. At least five police were also injured, one seriously.

    “The homophobic violence which soiled the streets of Kyiv today was ugly and action should have been taken in advance to try and prevent it. Instead of responding to violent threats by taking steps to ensure marchers would be safe, the police only took the decision to provide protection to the march yesterday. Had more time been spent planning and coordinating, some of these injuries might have been avoided,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe and Central Asia.

    May 22, 2015

     Released 09:00 GMT/12:00 Kyiv time on 22 May 2015

     

    Overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes, including torture and summary killings of prisoners, serve as a stark reminder of the brutal practices being committed on a near-daily basis in eastern Ukraine’s conflict, Amnesty International said in a comprehensive new briefing today.

    Breaking Bodies: Torture and summary killings in eastern Ukraine provides compelling evidence of frequent and widespread prisoner abuse by a broad range of captors on both sides of the conflict.

    Former prisoners described being beaten until their bones broke, tortured with electric shocks, kicked, stabbed, hung from the ceiling, deprived of sleep for days, threatened with death, denied urgent medical care and subjected to mock executions.

    April 08, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT  9 April 2015

    Shocking new evidence of “execution-style killings” by pro-Russian armed groups in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, illustrates the urgent need for action to tackle the escalating human rights and humanitarian crisis in the area, said Amnesty International.

    “The new evidence of these summary killings confirms what we have suspected for a long time. The question now is: what are the separatist leaders going to do about it?” said Denis Krivosheev, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director at Amnesty International.

    “The torture, ill-treatment and killing of captured, surrendered or wounded soldiers are war crimes. These claims must be promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated, and the perpetrators prosecuted in fair trials by recognized authorities.”

    Footage reviewed by Amnesty International shows Ukrainian soldier Ihor Branovytsky, one of the defenders of Donetsk airport, taken captive and interrogated. The video, posted on YouTube, shows signs that he was hit in the face. He remained in captivity until he was killed.

    March 30, 2015

    Posted at 0001hrs BST 31 March 2015

    All but one of independent Crimean Tatar-language media outlets – including those providing children’s entertainment – will be shut down on 1 April as the midnight deadline expires for re-registration under a Russian law, Amnesty International said.

    Despite submitting applications in good time, Crimean Tatar-language publications, websites and broadcast outlets that have been arbitrarily refused re-registration or not heard back from the licensing authorities, will be forced to close. Failure to do so will lead to heavy fines and criminal prosecutions.

    “At the stroke of midnight, all but one Crimean Tatar language media outlets, which have come under a sustained assault since the Russian annexation, will fall silent,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “This blatant attack on freedom of expression, dressed-up as an administrative procedure, is a crude attempt to stifle independent media, gag dissenting voices, and intimidate the Crimean Tatar community.”

    March 18, 2015

    The de facto authorities in Crimea have failed to investigate a series of abductions and torture of their critics, and resorted to an unrelenting campaign of intimidation to silence dissent, said Amnesty International in a briefing published today on the first anniversary of annexation.

    Violations of the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association in Crimea highlights how the de facto authorities in Crimea are carrying out a catalogue of human rights abuses against pro-Ukrainian media, campaigning organizations, Crimean Tatars and individuals critical of the regime.

    “Since Russia annexed Crimea, the de facto authorities are using a vast array of bully boy tactics to crack down on dissent; a spate of abductions between March and September have prompted many vocal critics to leave the region. Those remaining face a range of harassment from authorities determined to silence their opponents,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    Abductions and torture – no effective investigations 

    February 18, 2015
    By Levan Asatiani, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Ukraine @levan_asatiani 

    At least 77 people died as a result of clashes between police and protesters at Kyiv’s EuroMaydan roughly a year ago and another 1,000 were severely injured.

    These numbers may sound like dull statistics, but for me they were transformed into real individual stories of injustice as I attended launch of Amnesty International’s report: A year after EuroMaydan, justice delayed, justice denied in Kiev this morning. One of the most outspoken victims of police violence at EuroMaydan – Vladyslav Tsilytskiy – was present at the report launch.

    Fighting for justice

    February 18, 2015

    According to the Ministry of Health, 105 people died as a result of the EuroMaydan protests in Ukraine, including at least 13 police officers.© Aleksandr Piliugun

    A deeply imbedded culture of impunity, lack of expertise and in some cases, deliberate obstruction, are denying justice to the hundreds of victims of police abuses during the EuroMaydan protests in Ukraine, says Amnesty International in a new briefing on the first anniversary of the protest.

    Ukraine: A Year After Maydan, Justice Delayed, Justice Denied details the consistent failure to investigate unlawful use of force by security forces in Ukraine during the EuroMaydan protests in Kyiv and the failure of the authorities to deliver justice for the victims.

    “The deplorable lack of progress in delivering justice for those killed, injured and tortured exposes once again the deep failings of the Ukrainian criminal justice system,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia. 

    February 17, 2015

    A Ukrainian soldier is seen atop an armoured vehicle at the entrance to Debaltseve amid clashes earlier this month.© MANU BRABO/AFP/Getty Images

    Debaltseve’s possible capture by pro-Russian separatists must not result in widespread detainee abuse, Amnesty International urged amid reports that the Ukrainian military had partly lost control of the key railway hub town in eastern Ukraine.

    Video has emerged this afternoon apparently showing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to armed groups as they closed in on Debaltseve. According to media reports, between 4,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops may be encircled in the town.

    “There is a history of separatist armed groups torturing or otherwise ill-treating captured pro-Kyiv soldiers. Some reports are as recent as 9 February near Debaltseve. Such acts would be war crimes,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “We urge all sides in the conflict to treat any detainees humanely according to the Geneva Conventions.”

    February 12, 2015

    With the announcement of a ceasefire deal in Minsk today, both sides to the conflict in eastern Ukraine must take immediate steps to protect civilians in the days before it comes into force, Amnesty International urged. 

    Both Ukrainian government forces and separatist militias must stop launching indiscriminate attacks that kill civilians, and must allow civilians to flee contested areas like Debaltseve safely.

    Because the ceasefire does not enter into effect until Saturday night at midnight, the risk of civilian casualties in continued hostilities is extremely high. Civilians trapped in affected areas like the Debaltseve pocket are at particular risk, as both sides try to gain territory before the fighting is halted.

    “Given the intensity of the current fighting in Debaltseve, and the likely desire to escalate hostilities to gain ground before the ceasefire begins, we fear for the safety of the civilian population,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, who has just returned from Debaltseve.

    February 02, 2015

    An Amnesty International researcher on the ground in eastern Ukraine has gathered gruesome evidence of civilian deaths and casualties inflicted by both sides in the bloody conflict in the towns of Donestk and Debaltseve over the last few days.

    The evidence was collected on the spot in the immediate aftermath of shelling and includes interviews with eyewitnesses and casualties in hospital.

    The reported violations include an attack on a humanitarian aid line, a market place in Donestk and indiscriminate shelling of homes and streets in Debaltseve.

    “This evidence reveals the horror of the bloodshed suffered by civilians, who are being killed and injured because both sides are firing unguided rockets and mortars in heavily populated areas. Such attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 22, 2015

    Both sides are basing troops and weaponry in residential areas and failing to take necessary precautions to spare civilians.© ALEXANDER GAYUK/AFP/Getty Images

    A mortar strike on a trolleybus that killed at least eight and possibly as many as 15 civilians in pro-Russian separatist controlled Donetsk this morning is likely to be a violation of international humanitarian law and must be investigated promptly and impartially, Amnesty International said.

    January 19, 2015

    An escalation in hostilities in eastern Ukraine since yesterday has resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians, including children, with many more lives in grave danger, Amnesty International said as it renewed its calls on both sides to protect civilians amid the fighting.

    “The use of heavily populated areas for launching attacks by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Horlivka and the return of fire into these areas by pro-Kyiv forces is putting civilian lives in great danger,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Pro-Russian separatist forces must stop using densely populated areas for launching military operations and Kyiv-controlled forces must not launch indiscriminate attacks which put civilian lives at risk. These are violations of the laws of war for which civilians are paying with their lives.”

    January 13, 2015

    An artillery strike on a bus that killed 10 civilians and wounded 18 in eastern Ukraine must be investigated urgently as it could amount to a violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    An unguided Grad artillery system was apparently used in the strike, but at present it is unclear where the attack came from. It hit a civilian bus which was passing through a military checkpoint controlled by pro-Kyiv forces in the town of Volnovakha.

    “The world needs to know the truth about this tragic incident. It must be investigated thoroughly, impartially and independently, as a possible violation of the laws of war,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.  

    “Those responsible for this incident either failed to take steps to protect civilians, as demanded by international humanitarian law, or it was a deliberate act which would constitute a war crime.”

    December 23, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 24 December 2014

    Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to Christmas and New Year, said Amnesty International.

    “As winter sets in, the already desperate situation in eastern Ukraine is being made even worse by the volunteer battalions preventing food aid and medicine from reaching those in need. It is no secret that the region is facing a humanitarian disaster with many already at risk of starvation,” said Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.

    “These battalions often act like renegade gangs and urgently need to be brought under control. Denying food to people caught up in a conflict is against international law and the perpetrators must be held to account.”

    Amnesty International has received information that the pro-Kyiv battalions, which include Dnipro-1 and Aidar, have blocked aid entering territories controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR).

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