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Ukraine

    February 18, 2015

    According to the Ministry of Health, 105 people died as a result of the EuroMaydan protests in Ukraine, including at least 13 police officers.© Aleksandr Piliugun

    A deeply imbedded culture of impunity, lack of expertise and in some cases, deliberate obstruction, are denying justice to the hundreds of victims of police abuses during the EuroMaydan protests in Ukraine, says Amnesty International in a new briefing on the first anniversary of the protest.

    Ukraine: A Year After Maydan, Justice Delayed, Justice Denied details the consistent failure to investigate unlawful use of force by security forces in Ukraine during the EuroMaydan protests in Kyiv and the failure of the authorities to deliver justice for the victims.

    “The deplorable lack of progress in delivering justice for those killed, injured and tortured exposes once again the deep failings of the Ukrainian criminal justice system,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director of Europe and Central Asia. 

    February 17, 2015

    A Ukrainian soldier is seen atop an armoured vehicle at the entrance to Debaltseve amid clashes earlier this month.© MANU BRABO/AFP/Getty Images

    Debaltseve’s possible capture by pro-Russian separatists must not result in widespread detainee abuse, Amnesty International urged amid reports that the Ukrainian military had partly lost control of the key railway hub town in eastern Ukraine.

    Video has emerged this afternoon apparently showing dozens of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering to armed groups as they closed in on Debaltseve. According to media reports, between 4,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops may be encircled in the town.

    “There is a history of separatist armed groups torturing or otherwise ill-treating captured pro-Kyiv soldiers. Some reports are as recent as 9 February near Debaltseve. Such acts would be war crimes,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    “We urge all sides in the conflict to treat any detainees humanely according to the Geneva Conventions.”

    February 12, 2015

    With the announcement of a ceasefire deal in Minsk today, both sides to the conflict in eastern Ukraine must take immediate steps to protect civilians in the days before it comes into force, Amnesty International urged. 

    Both Ukrainian government forces and separatist militias must stop launching indiscriminate attacks that kill civilians, and must allow civilians to flee contested areas like Debaltseve safely.

    Because the ceasefire does not enter into effect until Saturday night at midnight, the risk of civilian casualties in continued hostilities is extremely high. Civilians trapped in affected areas like the Debaltseve pocket are at particular risk, as both sides try to gain territory before the fighting is halted.

    “Given the intensity of the current fighting in Debaltseve, and the likely desire to escalate hostilities to gain ground before the ceasefire begins, we fear for the safety of the civilian population,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International, who has just returned from Debaltseve.

    February 02, 2015

    An Amnesty International researcher on the ground in eastern Ukraine has gathered gruesome evidence of civilian deaths and casualties inflicted by both sides in the bloody conflict in the towns of Donestk and Debaltseve over the last few days.

    The evidence was collected on the spot in the immediate aftermath of shelling and includes interviews with eyewitnesses and casualties in hospital.

    The reported violations include an attack on a humanitarian aid line, a market place in Donestk and indiscriminate shelling of homes and streets in Debaltseve.

    “This evidence reveals the horror of the bloodshed suffered by civilians, who are being killed and injured because both sides are firing unguided rockets and mortars in heavily populated areas. Such attacks are a violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    January 22, 2015

    Both sides are basing troops and weaponry in residential areas and failing to take necessary precautions to spare civilians.© ALEXANDER GAYUK/AFP/Getty Images

    A mortar strike on a trolleybus that killed at least eight and possibly as many as 15 civilians in pro-Russian separatist controlled Donetsk this morning is likely to be a violation of international humanitarian law and must be investigated promptly and impartially, Amnesty International said.

    January 19, 2015

    An escalation in hostilities in eastern Ukraine since yesterday has resulted in the deaths of numerous civilians, including children, with many more lives in grave danger, Amnesty International said as it renewed its calls on both sides to protect civilians amid the fighting.

    “The use of heavily populated areas for launching attacks by pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Horlivka and the return of fire into these areas by pro-Kyiv forces is putting civilian lives in great danger,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International.

    “Pro-Russian separatist forces must stop using densely populated areas for launching military operations and Kyiv-controlled forces must not launch indiscriminate attacks which put civilian lives at risk. These are violations of the laws of war for which civilians are paying with their lives.”

    January 13, 2015

    An artillery strike on a bus that killed 10 civilians and wounded 18 in eastern Ukraine must be investigated urgently as it could amount to a violation of international humanitarian law, Amnesty International said.

    An unguided Grad artillery system was apparently used in the strike, but at present it is unclear where the attack came from. It hit a civilian bus which was passing through a military checkpoint controlled by pro-Kyiv forces in the town of Volnovakha.

    “The world needs to know the truth about this tragic incident. It must be investigated thoroughly, impartially and independently, as a possible violation of the laws of war,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Europe and Central Asia Director at Amnesty International.  

    “Those responsible for this incident either failed to take steps to protect civilians, as demanded by international humanitarian law, or it was a deliberate act which would constitute a war crime.”

    December 23, 2014

    Posted at 0001hrs GMT 24 December 2014

    Pro-Kyiv volunteer battalions are increasingly blocking humanitarian aid into eastern Ukraine in a move which will exacerbate a pending humanitarian crisis in the run up to Christmas and New Year, said Amnesty International.

    “As winter sets in, the already desperate situation in eastern Ukraine is being made even worse by the volunteer battalions preventing food aid and medicine from reaching those in need. It is no secret that the region is facing a humanitarian disaster with many already at risk of starvation,” said Denis Krivosheev, acting Director of Europe and Central Asia for Amnesty International.

    “These battalions often act like renegade gangs and urgently need to be brought under control. Denying food to people caught up in a conflict is against international law and the perpetrators must be held to account.”

    Amnesty International has received information that the pro-Kyiv battalions, which include Dnipro-1 and Aidar, have blocked aid entering territories controlled by the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR).

    November 09, 2014

    By Tanya Mazur, Director of Amnesty International Ukraine.

    The fall of the Berlin Wall signalled the start of seismic changes that continue to shake Ukraine. Two years later, the Soviet Union, of which Ukraine was a part, collapsed. At the time I was 10 years old and my growing up coincided with my country’s steps towards independence and the rule of law.

    The 90s were a difficult time for independent Ukraine. Coming out from the totalitarian embrace of the Soviet Union, the country was plunged into economic and social chaos. I remember the empty shelves in the shops, the coupons which we had to cut out – a substitute for real money – with which we could buy sugar, washing powder and vodka. Several generations brought up in Communist times were trying to find their way in the new market economy. In Ukraine’s case, instead of the rule of law, the country woke up to the rule of racketeering and lawlessness.

    November 06, 2014

    The killing of a schoolboy and an 18-year-old during shelling in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on Wednesday highlights a larger pattern of indiscriminate attacks which could amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said today.

    “Both Ukrainian government and separatist forces must immediately stop carrying out indiscriminate attacks in violation of the laws of war,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia director of Amnesty International.

    “These continuing civilian deaths – a predictable result of such attacks – are inexcusable and those responsible on both sides must be held accountable.”

    During a research mission in late September and early October, Amnesty International documented more than 20 recent civilian deaths due to shelling and rocket fire in the eastern Ukrainian towns of Donetsk, Avdiivka, and Debaltseve. Most of the deaths, which took place in residential neighbourhoods, appeared to be the result of indiscriminate attacks, with the attacking forces using weapons that could not be targeted with sufficient accuracy to distinguish between civilian and military objects.

    November 05, 2014

    The deaths of two children killed by shelling while they played football on a school playing field in eastern Ukraine must be immediately, fully and impartially investigated, Amnesty International said today.

    Four other youths were wounded in the attack, which came as separatists and pro-Kyiv forces accused each other of breaking a ceasefire agreement.

    “We have witnessed both sides in this conflict ignoring their legal obligations and failing to protect civilians and this is the latest tragic example of the consequences,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Today’s shocking attack in Donetsk must by fully investigated. If it is found to constitute a war crime, those responsible must be brought to justice.”

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667#236 jtackaberry@amnesty.ca

     

    October 20, 2014

    Released 0900 GMT, 20 October 2014

    An Amnesty International investigation into allegations of execution-style and other deliberate killings by pro-Russian separatists and pro-Kyiv forces has found evidence of isolated incidents attributable to both sides, but not on the scale reported by Russian media and authorities.

    Summary killing during the conflict in eastern Ukraine, presents the findings of research conducted in eastern Ukraine (Donbass) in late August and late September 2014 and interviews with victims of human rights abuses and their families, eyewitnesses, local officials in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, medical personnel and combatants on both sides.

    October 01, 2014

    Ukrainian and rebel forces must immediately end indiscriminate attacks in residential areas, Amnesty International said today after at least nine civilians were killed in strikes on a school and a bus in Donetsk.

    The latest attacks, which took place in the Kievskiy district of the city, came as Amnesty International documented a pattern of indiscriminate shelling and rocket attacks in the area by Ukrainian forces in the past 10 days.

    “Ukrainian government forces must immediately stop firing on residential areas in Donetsk,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Director.

    “Ukrainian and rebel forces are violating international humanitarian law by endangering civilians with indiscriminate attacks, despite the fact that attacks may only be directed against combatants.

    “These attacks are unlawful because Ukrainian forces are using weapons in populated areas that cannot be targeted with sufficient accuracy to distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives.”

    September 08, 2014

    (Kyiv) In a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk today, Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty urged the Ukrainian government to stop abuses and war crimes by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces.

    “The Ukrainian authorities must not replicate the lawlessness and abuses that have prevailed in areas previously held by separatists,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International Secretary General from Kyiv.

    “The failure to stop abuses and possible war crimes by volunteer battalions risks significantly aggravating tensions in the east of the country and undermining the proclaimed intentions of the new Ukrainian authorities to strengthen and uphold the rule of law more broadly.”
     
    The call came as Amnesty International published fresh research collected on the ground in the northern Luhansk region, Abuses and war crimes by the Aidar Volunteer Battalion in the north Luhansk region, documenting a growing range of abuses by the Aidar Volunteer battalion.  

    September 06, 2014

    Released   00.01 BST (GMT+1) 7 SEPTEMBER 

    Ukrainian militia and separatist forces are responsible for war crimes, Amnesty International said today. The organisation accused Russia of fuelling separatist crimes as it revealed satellite images indicating a build-up of Russian armour and artillery in eastern Ukraine.

    With cease-fire talks still uncertain and the situation on the ground perilous, Amnesty International calls on all parties, including Russia, to stop violations of the laws of war.

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