Human Rights Council 31st session
Geneva, March 21, 2016
Item 8: Joint Statement
This statement is delivered on behalf of 41 countries.
The Vienna Declaration reaffirmed the obligation of States to ensure the rights of persons belonging to minorities and highlighted the central importance of protecting groups which have been rendered vulnerable.
Since the illegal occupation and annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation in spring 2014, numerous international human rights monitors have published reports on the situation in Crimea including 13 reports by the OHCHR.
These reports reflect information on a number of ongoing serious and systematic abuses. These include the forced and retroactive implementation of the Russian laws; the imposition of Russian citizenship; politically motivated incarceration and prosecution; restrictions on freedom of expression, the intimidation of journalists and systematic harassment and disruption of the news media in Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages.
This situation is particularly harsh for political opponents and persons belonging to minorities, especially Crimean Tatars, who have reportedly suffered police brutality, arbitrary searches and arrests, torture and ill-treatment; unfair trials, discriminatory legislation, the effective proscription of Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages, the transfer of persons in detention to the Russian Federation; and the seizure and violation of their properties.
We strongly condemn all abuses resulting from the control by the Russian de facto authorities over the peninsula, which must not go unpunished. The killings and enforced disappearances of Crimean Tatar representatives must be investigated and those found responsible brought to justice.
We call on the Russian de facto authorities to guarantee free and fair proceedings in accordance with basic principles of international law to all on the peninsula. In particular, we urge for the immediate release of Ukrainian citizens Oleg Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Gennadiy Afanasyev, Ahtem Chiygoz and other activists who were illegally seized in Crimea, transferred to the Russian Federation and prosecuted in violation of basic standards of justice and international law.
We call on the de facto authorities to reopen the cultural and religious institutions of Crimean Tatars, and to cooperate fully and immediately with the OHCHR and allow unconditional access of international and regional human rights mechanisms throughout the Crimean peninsula.
We call for an international presence in Crimea to monitor the situation of human rights there. This is of paramount importance in preventing further deterioration. We encourage OHCHR to prepare an additional thematic report on the human rights situation in Crimea.
The international community remains deeply concerned by the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the status of which is prescribed by General Assembly resolution 68/262. We recognize that Crimea is an inseparable part of Ukraine and call upon Russia to end its illegal occupation and annexation. We reiterate our support for the territorial integrity, political independence, unity and sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, which continues to be violated by the illegal occupation and annexation of Crimea and call for the full respect of the rights of all residents of Crimea.