Remarks by Ambassador Keith Harper at the OHCHR Briefing on the Situation of Human Rights in Ukraine

OHCHR Briefing on Ukraine to the UN Human Rights Council
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper
Geneva,
December 9, 2015

Mr. President,

The United States thanks the High Commissioner and Mr. Magazzeni for the thorough reporting on Ukraine.  We commend the Ukrainian government for its continued cooperation and support to this mission.  We welcome today’s meeting as an important opportunity to keep the Council engaged on the situation in Ukraine, as called for in resolution 29/23.

The situation in eastern Ukraine and Russian-occupied Crimea remains dire.  As the OHCHR report notes, Russia-backed separatists are committing widespread human rights abuses in the east.  The Human Rights Monitoring Mission regularly receives reports of torture, illegal detention, and forced labor.  De facto authorities in the east and Russian occupation authorities in Crimea are hindering enjoyment of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion.

We are gravely concerned at the deteriorating situation for women and girls in these areas, many of whom are being subjected to sexual violence.  Many women in Donetsk turn to survival sex as a means to provide for their families, seriously endangering their physical and mental health and leading to a rise in HIV infections.

As winter sets in, the humanitarian situation in territory controlled by combined Russian-separatist forces is also of great concern.  The continued denial of access for UN humanitarian organizations to separatist-controlled areas is unacceptable.  In areas along the ceasefire line, hundreds of thousands of people need fuel, blankets, and clothing to make it through the winter.

We look forward to the next briefing of OHCHR on Ukraine and to the Council’s continued attention to this important human rights situation.

In closing, we would like to ask the office of the High Commissioner: Given that Russia continues to impede efforts to monitor and address the deteriorating situation in Crimea, how can the international community assist the work of the monitoring mission?

Thank you.