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Ambassador Harper: Russian aggression in Ukraine is Blatant and Contrary to International Law
September 29, 2015

Agenda Item 10, Interactive Dialogue on Ukraine

Statement of the United States of America
As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper

30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

September 29, 2015


Thank you Madam Vice President,

The United States strongly supports the ongoing work of the High Commissioner’s Office to monitor and report on the situation in Ukraine.  We urge other member states to contribute to the mission, whose work remains critical.  During the last reporting period, the monitoring mission reported 413 civilian casualties and massive disruption to the human rights of Ukrainians, caused overwhelmingly by combined Russian-separatist forces in eastern Ukraine and the occupation authorities in Crimea.

The United States is deeply disturbed by ongoing abuses by Russian occupation authorities in Crimea and we demand that OHCHR monitors be allowed into Crimea, as they are to other parts of Ukraine.  Crimean Tatars are facing growing harassment by occupation authorities, including arbitrary arrests, political prosecutions, and crackdowns on Tatar media outlets and civil society organizations.  Russian authorities have shown a pattern of mistreatment of the Tatars including by depriving them of health care and education, and Russia has exiled Tatar leaders who dare speak out for their constituents.

In addition, the United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing violations and abuses routinely perpetrated by combined Russian-separatist forces and illegitimate separatist authorities in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in Ukraine’s east.  Separatists use egregious tactics including forced disappearances, mock executions, acts of brutality and other atrocities, to spread fear among the local population.  Members of religious minorities such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists face severe persecution.  Russia-backed separatists also deny humanitarian access which in turn leads to ever-growing shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine.

Russian aggression in Ukraine is blatant and contrary to international law.  Russia’s egregious actions extend to measures taken against Ukrainian citizens transferred to Russia.  We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Nadiya Savchenko,  and Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, and Gennadiy Afanasyev.

The United States commends the government of Ukraine for its ongoing cooperation with OHCHR and its willingness to improve human rights in Ukraine.  The government is taking important steps to combat corruption and improve policing.  They are also taking steps towards combatting impunity by arresting and trying Ukrainians who have accused of committing abuses during the conflict, including members of the military and militia groups.

More must be done, and we will stand by the Ukrainian people as they continue their struggle for their independence and their country’s territorial integrity.

We would like to ask the monitoring mission, what steps can OHCHR take to provide more technical assistance to Ukrainian authorities and how can the international community support these efforts?

Thank you.