More than 50 human rights violations have recently been recorded by a United Nations office in Russia-occupied Crimea.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has documented 24 cases in a three month period between February 16 and May 15, which include 54 human rights violations.
According to its report released today, 28 of these violations occurred within the three month period. Russian authorities were responsible for 25 violations, while the Ukrainian government was responsible for three, which occurred on mainland Ukraine but were connected with to the rights situation on occupied peninsula.
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The report comes amid Russia nominating itself for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council for the 2021-2023 term.
Since Moscow illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, Kremlin-controlled authorities have committed grave human rights violations on the peninsula, persecuting Crimean Tatars, Muslims, journalists and pro-Ukrainian activists.
According to the report, Russia continues to infringe on rights through enforced disappearances, violations of freedom of expression and forcible deportation.
Russian authorities in Crimea deported 155 people they considered foreigners “for violating Russian Federation immigration rules” in 2017. A further 23 Ukrainian construction workers were deported on February 2 after a court declared their employment on the peninsula “illegal”.
“The court hearings were conducted expeditiously in a formalistic manner and in the absence of defense lawyers, in violation of fair trial guarantees,” the OHCHR report stated.
On April 11, OHCHR documented the disappearance of a Kharkiv resident on Russian controlled territory, the first case since 2016 of an enforced disappearance on the peninsula “where the victim has been missing for over three days.” The Ukrainian resident was detained by Russia’s Federal Security Service without official charges and was still missing on May 15.
The report also outlines how Kremlin-controlled authorities on the peninsula continue to convict residents for social media posts and infringe on people’s voting and property rights.
Russia illegally held its Presidential election in Crimea on March 18. OHCHR stated that it received reports of Crimeans being pressured to vote to boost turnout numbers.
“A Crimean Tatar teacher was reprimanded and threatened with dismissal by the principal of a school in the Krasnoperekopsk district for refusing to vote,” the report stated. “Some voters stated that their employers required them to take a photograph of themselves at the polling station as evidence of their participation.”
According to the report, a Sevastopol resident, who was part of an unregistered anarchist group, was sentenced to 11 days of administrative arrest after posting plans to boycott the election on social media. The resident was sentenced for another post “allegedly containing extremist content”.
Meanwhile, as Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov continues his hunger strike, announced on May 14 in protest of Russia’s detention Ukrainian political prisoners, OHCHR issued a reminder that forcible transfers and deportations of political prisoners from occupied land to the territory of the occupier or another state are prohibited under international humanitarian law.
The OHCHR called on the on the Russian government to comply with international humanitarian law obligations and provide “proper and unimpeded access of international human rights monitoring missions and human rights non-governmental organizations to Crimea.”
Among its recommendations to the Russian authorities, it also urged them to stop criminalizing free speech, “quash all penalties imposed on Crimean residents for expressing dissenting views, including regarding the status of Crimea” and end deportations and forcible transfers of protected people.
/By Natalie Vikhrov