What You Need To Know:
✓ Amnesty International has expressed a concern with human rights violations committed both by the Ukrainian state, separatist forces and Russian occupation authorities in Crimea;
✓ Message to Ukrainian leadership: “You are the legitimate authority in the country and you have to actually enforce the rule of law and protect human rights…you can never take the slippery slope to aligning yourself with the kind of violations the kind of behavior that the other side of the conflict displays;”
✓ “Growing concern about the state of freedom of speech, freedom of the media and civil society in Ukraine;”
✓ Despite obvious procedural violations in terms of international standards in the Savchenko and Sentsov trials, Amnesty International “cannot take a political stance.”
Amnesty International, one of many organizations monitoring human rights violations in Ukraine since the start of the war, has expressed a concern with violations committed by the Ukrainian state, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk Republics and occupational authorities in Crimea. According to the organization’s Senior Research Director, Anna Neistat, Ukraine needs to lead by example: “You are the legitimate authority in the country and you have to actually enforce the rule of law and protect human rights…you can never take the slippery slope to aligning yourself with the kind of violations the kind of behavior that the other side of the conflict displays.”
While many violations have been observed across the country, Neistat states that there is a “growing concern about the state of freedom of speech, freedom of the media and civil society in Ukraine… that concerns both the territories that are controlled by Ukrainian forces and those that are controlled by the other side.” Neistat adds that the organization is aware of instances where journalists have been stopped from entering the territories, working there, and have even been arrested --specifically in the East. She warns that while Ukrainian-controlled territories haven’t really experienced such problems yet, “I don’t think it’s time to relax because this situation could change very quickly.”
Having worked in both in Russian formerly rebellious republic of Chechnya and Russia, Neistat is able to draw parallels between both conflicts: “When you look at Chechnya and how it affected the situation in Russia…you start seeing that some of the key problems violations repressions were witnessing right now have their roots in how Russia was dealing with Chechnya. “ Neistat says that most independent media and many NGOs were closed or censored in Russia due to their active positions on the war in Chechnya. She warns that Ukraine is at risk for following a similar path.
When asked about Ukraine’s political prisoners, specifically Savchenko and Sentsov, Neistat says that despite obvious procedural violations in terms of international standards in both trials, Amnesty International “cannot take a political stance on those cases so unfortunately the only thing we can push for is a retrial although pragmatically we understand that the retrial by the same system is very unlikely to have a different outcome.”
Hromadske's Tetyana Ogarkova spoke to Anna Neistat, Senior Research Director for Amnesty International in March of 2016 in Kyiv.