U.S. Statement on OHCHR report on the situation of human rights in Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Keith Harper
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva

Human Rights Council
December 12, 2016

Mr. President,

The United States welcomes Minister Kyslytsya to this briefing. The US thanks the High Commission and OHCHR Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for its continued robust reporting on the situation in Ukraine.  We commend the Government of Ukraine for its full cooperation with OHCHR since the establishment of the monitoring mission.  We also welcome the release this week of the government’s 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan.

The most significant human rights abuses taking place in Ukraine occur in Russian-occupied Crimea and in territories controlled by Russian-backed separatists.  In these territories, de-facto authorities systematically stifle dissent and engage in gross human rights abuses.  In addition to driving a conflict that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives, Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region have systematically engaged in abductions, torture, and unlawful detention, employed child soldiers, and restricted humanitarian aid.

In Crimea, Russian occupation authorities continue to target ethnic and religious communities, particularly Crimean Tatars, as well as independent journalists and anyone perceived as opposing the occupation.  These persons face abuse and politically motivated prosecution.  Russia has created a pervasive climate of fear in which unrestricted media has been all but stamped out.

Neither Russia nor Russian-backed separatists have conducted investigations of alleged human rights abuses in occupied Crimea or the conflict in the Donbas region.  These de-facto authorities prevent such investigations by the international community and Ukrainian authorities.  This makes the continued reporting from OHCHR more important than ever.

(Question – if time permits)  How can OHCHR further highlight the widespread impunity of human rights violators in the areas of Ukraine not under government control?  What are the greatest challenges you see for providing humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens in temporarily occupied territories?

Thank you.