UN Human Rights Council 43rd Session – Item 10: HC oral report on Ukraine – 18 June 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.

It has now been 6 years since the sham referendum in Crimea, followed by the illegal annexation of the peninsula. These acts remain a direct challenge to international security, with grave implications for the international order that protects the territorial integrity, unity and sovereignty of all States.

We are also concerned about the human rights situation in Crimea. According to reports by human rights defenders, the situation in Crimea continues to deteriorate. This has a devastating impact on all the inhabitants of the peninsula – especially on those, who refuse to recognize the occupation and seek to preserve their native language, religious and cultural identity.

For example, the Crimean Tatars, due to their pro-Ukrainian position, have regularly been subjected to reprisals by the occupying authorities and paramilitary groups controlled by the Russian Federation. Crimean Tatar Muslims have become targets for illegal prosecution, searches, interrogations, detention and forced disappearances as part of a campaign of intimidation and persecution.

We are worried about attempts by the Russian Federation to change the demographic composition of Crimea, which violates international law. About 50.000 to a 100.000 Crimean Tatars have had to flee the peninsula and the Russian Federation continues to impose its “citizenship” on Crimean’s who still decide to live in the peninsula.

Finally, we remind the Russian Federation that under the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Russia is a party, an occupying power may not compel residents of the occupied territory to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. According to recent estimates, more than 18.000 men have been conscripted since the beginning of the occupation in Crimea.

We call upon the Russian Federation to respect international law and reverse these acts and to end the oppression of the Crimean people, including the Crimean Tatar community.

Madame High Commissioner, have you recorded any improvements in the access for human rights mechanisms to the occupied territories in Ukraine in the last year?

Thank you!