REUTERS

"More than 2.5 million people live in Crimea, they are all covered by the European Convention on Human Rights and should be able to benefit from it," Jagland said, the Council of Europe reports.

"However, for more than a year, no delegation from an international organization has been able to go there."

"The mission will be conducted with full independence and will not deal with any issue related to the territorial status of Crimea," Jagland stressed. "It will help us receive clear and comprehensive information on the human rights situation and make sure the people of Crimea are not forgotten."

The mission's mandate covers all major human rights issues including freedom of expression and media freedom; freedom of association and of assembly; minority rights; local and self-government; fight against corruption and prison conditions.

Ambassador Gerard Stoudmann, who will lead delegation, will be assisted by three members of the Council of Europe Secretariat.

The mission which is to start work in Crimea on Monday will conclude with a report and recommendations submitted to the Secretary General in late February or March.