UN Human Rights Council 45rd Session – Item 10: ID with the HC on Ukraine – 1 October 2020 – Intervention by ESTONIA

Madame President,

Estonia aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

We thank the High Commissioner for her important update on the situation in Ukraine. We highly appreciate that OHCHR remained fully operational in Ukraine despite the quarantine restrictions due to COVID-19.

The human rights situation in Crimea, occupied by Russian Federation, and in territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, controlled by illegal armed groups, continues to deteriorate. The reason for the deterioration lies not in the spread of the pandemic, but in the direct consequences of the Russian aggression.  Conflict in eastern Ukraine goes on its seventh year – with no end in sight.

We are disturbed by the persistent campaign of oppression targeting the Crimean Tatars who have become main objects of reprisals of the occupying power due to their overtly pro-Ukrainian stand.

On 16 September, the Southern Military Court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced seven Crimean Tatars to lengthy prison terms ranging from 13 to 19 years on fabricated charges of terrorism. We are concerned by the persistent denial of access to the detention facilities for human rights monitors in the areas not controlled by the government.  This is particularly concerning given the widespread nature of credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment. We reiterate the call for independent international observers, including OHCHR, to have unimpeded access to places of detention.

According to Human Rights Commissioner Liudmyla Denisova despite some progress achieved in the exchange of prisoners between the government of Ukraine and Russian proxies, there are 115 captives still being held in prisons in the Russian Federation and in the occupied Crimea, whereas  200 captives, on the lists of prisoners in non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions.

Madame High Commissioner, what steps does the OHCHR intend to take for achieving unimpeded access by human rights experts to detainees and places of deprivation of liberty?

Thank you!