PACE calls for release of all prisoners in Donbas, punishment of those responsible -- resolution

20:49, 21 April 2016
Politics
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The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has adopted a resolution in which it pointed at the inhumane treatment of prisoners captured during the war in the east of Ukraine and called on all parties to the conflict to do everything for their release.

The Assembly also expressed its concern over the situation in Crimea / echrblog.blogspot.com

The corresponding resolution was voted on Thursday in Strasbourg during the meeting of the PACE after the report titled “The humanitarian concerns with regard to people captured during the war in Ukraine” was presented by a Latvian deputy Nellija Kleinberg, an UNIAN correspondent reported.

65 delegates supported the resolution, while three abstained and no votes cast against it.

The resolution states that since the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the beginning of military aggression in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine, "hundreds of Ukrainian servicemen and civilians have been reported captured or abducted.”

Read alsoPACE President calls on Russia to urgently free Nadia SavchenkoWhile some of the prisoners were released, the Parliamentary Assembly “is deeply concerned about the numerous reports of inhumane and degrading treatment of captured persons, who are subjected to torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence. Moreover, there is also evidence that captured persons have been executed by the separatist forces.”

The Assembly says it is also very worried about the situation in Crimea where, since the illegal annexation of the peninsula by the Russian Federation, the "de facto authorities have been using Russian legislation against extremism, separatism and terrorism to detain Crimean-Tatar and Ukrainian activists.”

Read alsoPart of Crimea report presented in Council of Europe distorts real situation – ChubarovFurthermore, the Assembly is alarmed by reports from human rights defenders concerning 13 Ukrainian prisoners reportedly being detained by the Russian authorities in violation of international law on fabricated charges. “The most flagrant example is the case of a member of the Parliamentary Assembly, Ms Nadiia Savchenko, who was forcibly taken to the Russian Federation and has been illegally held in custody since June 2014 despite,inter alia, her enjoying immunity under Article 40.a of the Statute of the Council of Europe and the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe and its Protocol  to which the Russian Federation is a Party," PACE states.

The Assembly also “notes with great concern reported cases of violations of the right to liberty and the right to fair trial of those who have been detained by the Ukrainian secret services or by different Ukrainian military battalions, including voluntary battalions.” It calls on the Ukrainian authorities to investigate all such cases and to punish the perpetrators in accordance with the relevant Ukrainian legislation.

Read alsoEU sanctions against Russia to remain in place until full implementation of Minsk-2: JunckerThe Assembly believes that without the strong determination of all sides to stop this war, a solution to the problem of people captured during the Russian military aggressions in Ukraine is not possible. Therefore, it urges Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the separatist groups controlling the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk region to:

- stop all military actions in the East of Ukraine, withdraw all weapons and to restore peace in this region;

- implement, without further delay, the Minsk Agreement, especially prioritising the paragraph on the release of all captured persons; their release should not be based upon the fulfilment of other Minsk Agreement points;

- respect international humanitarian law and the rights and obligations of the parties in respect of prisoners of war and the protection of civilians;

- grant international humanitarian organisations access to all detainees, without any conditions.

In addition, the Assembly urges the Russian authorities to "release all Ukrainian prisoners captured and imprisoned in the Russian Federation and in the illegally annexed Crimea; conduct effective investigations and prosecute perpetrators in cases of abduction, enforced disappearances, torture and politically motivated killings of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar activists in Crimea; use its influence over the separatist groups which control the occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to urge them to release all Ukrainian captives; immediately release Ms Savchenko, who enjoys European parliamentary immunity under the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe, and other illegally detained Ukrainian prisoners, and allow their return to Ukraine.

The resolution also calls on the Council of Europe member states to impose sanctions on individuals from the so-called "Savchenko list."

Read alsoOSCE: Free expression, freedom of media remain under threat in CrimeaPACE also urges  the separatist groups which control the occupied territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to release all captured prisoners and hostages, stop all violations of human rights, in particular the abduction, torture and politically motivated killing of Ukrainian citizens; exchange prisoners in the framework of the Minsk Agreement “All to all”; grant international humanitarian missions access to all places of detention of captured persons.

In addition, PACE called on Ukrainian authorities to ratify without delay the Rome Statute “to conduct effective investigations into concrete cases of violations of international humanitarian law during the war in Ukraine.” Ukrainian side is also urged to “conduct effective investigations and prosecute all perpetrators concerning cases of abduction and taking of captives, as well as concerning cases of extortion, bribery and corruption linked to the liberation of captured persons." The resolution also refers to a number of legislative measures, which must be implemented by the Ukrainian government.

As regards assistance to captured persons and their families, PACE calls for the Ukrainian side to devise a mechanism of State compensation and support to the families of captured persons.

In addition, PACE called on the OSCE to facilitate negotiations and the settlement of the problem of captured persons in the humanitarian working group. The ICRC, in turn, should step up its efforts to obtain unrestricted access to all persons detained in relation to the war, monitor their conditions of detention to check their condition of detention and facilitate their release.

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