Situation with human rights in Ukraine

Solidaritätsnetz International in Bern and Skopje presented a report on monitoring the observance of human rights in Ukraine and an analysis of the human rights practice of our Organization.

We fully support Ukraine in its armed struggle and gener welcome UN General Assembly Resolution ES-11/1 “Aggression against Ukraine”, which was adopted by the eleventh emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly on March 2, 2022. In this regard, Switzerland, despite its traditional neutrality, joined the EU sanctions, approving sanctions against more than 200 Russian individuals and legal entities.

With chagrin, Solidaritätsnetz International has to state that the situation with human rights in Ukraine has worsened due to the direct participation and connivance of the Ukrainian political leadership. We are aware that the wartime regime imposes certain restrictions on the political rights of citizens, therefore we do not comment on the closure of political parties by direct order of the Office of the President; however, cases of violation of personal freedoms of citizens have been recorded.

We ask  to pay attention to the following facts and trends.

  1. The criminal and judicial prosecution of persons recognized as prisoners of conscience by the international organization Amnesty International continues after February 23, 2022. We are talking about Vasily Muravitsky and Ruslan Kotsaba. Denied monetary compensation to Pavel Volkov, who was illegally imprisoned and later acquitted. The case has not been investigated and no perpetrators have been found in the physical attack on lawyer Andrii Hozhyi, who was beaten by neo-Nazis right during the trial, which was recorded by the UN monitoring mission (paragraph 60 of the Report on the situation with human rights in Ukraine on August 16 – November 15, 2018).
  2. After the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Parlsment Verkhovna Rada adopted two laws on collaborationism: they concern representatives of the Ukrainian authorities and ordinary residents of the country who voluntarily collaborated with representatives of the occupying authorities. What causes concern is that part of the laws that is connected with the wording of support for the decisions of the aggressor country – propaganda in the interests of Russia. As the practice of applying this law shows, political opponents of the current government, opposition journalists and lawyers, and ordinary citizens began to fall under attack as a result of provocations by Ukrainian special services who want to organize a witch hunt. Law enforcement agencies use this norm so widely, and the law is formulated so vaguely, that anyone who criticizes the authorities risks falling under this heavy charge. Solidaritätsnetz International became convinced that the Security Service of Ukraine and the National Police of Ukraine began to pursue the second circle of persons who had not previously been prosecuted due to lack of evidence. It is depressing that under these laws, ordinary users of social networks can be charged with a crime for which the punishment is from 12 years in prison. On the face of a clear disproportionate crime, which is expressed by “like a mark on Facebook or repost” and punishment in the form of many years in prison.
  3. We have documented the widespread practice of arbitrary detentions and searches by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. The Security Service of Ukraine applies absolutely illegal actions to citizens, called “filtration”. For example, intelligence officers detain persons personally disloyal to the state regime, subjecting them to grueling interrogations and unauthorized searches. Detention is usually carried out with excessive cruelty. A defender is not allowed to approach people who are “on filtration”. People are forcibly taken away means of communication, they are required to access social networks and intrusion into private life, and even physically influence, threaten and demand to stop any public activity. Pressure is also exerted in order to gain recognition in work for the “Russian special services”, which allows the Security Service of Ukraine to improve the statistics on the disclosure of state crimes. Solidaritätsnetz International allow an oportunity the use of the “filtering” procedure for personal revenge against journalists, public figures and human rights activists, as well as as an instrument of corruption pressure. Despite the public outcry, the top political leadership of Ukraine approves of this practice and frankly advertises such methods of dealing with “Russian agents”. Taking into account changes in the criminal procedure legislation, victims who have undergone such “filtering” cannot find protection in judicial and prosecutorial supervision.
  4. In the public domain, there is a lot of information about physical and degrading extrajudicial executions and punishments. So people who pose as military personnel or members of paramilitary self-defense are beaten in order to punish their colleagues and civilians. A case is known in the media when a news anchor called for the killing of Russian women and children, inheriting the ideologists of the 3rd Reich. Many cases of deprivation of motor vehicles without trial and investigation “in the interests” of the Ukrainian army. The exemplary cruelty in the detention of suspects by state security agencies and the police is a cause for concern. These persons do not offer resistance, but are subject to beating and humiliation during detention.
  5. We would like to point out that private lawyers refuse to defend persons accused in political cases. Many organizations noted cases of pressure on lawyers in Ukraine before the war. These cases were not investigated and the perpetrators were not punished. We are talking about murders, violence and criminal prosecution of lawyers for their legal activities. With the outbreak of hostilities and the adoption of authoritarian measures by Kyiv, it is increasingly difficult for citizens to receive adequate protection from independent legal defenders. Lawyers are afraid of pressure from nationalist groups and law enforcement agencies, and appointed public defenders do not work enough to justify their clients. The right to protection has been turned into a fiction.

Solidaritätsnetz International will continue to collect and analyze data on human rights violations in Ukraine.

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