In recent years, the main problem provoking the violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms in the Crimea is its occupation by the Russian Federation.
The corresponding opinion was expressed by the Chairman of the UN Monitoring Mission for Human Rights in Ukraine Fiona Fraser, during presentation of a new report of the UN Monitoring Mission on Human Rights on the situation with human rights in Ukraine for the period from February 16 to May 15, 2018 in UCMC.
“One of the main issues that we are documenting not only during this year, but from the moment when the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2016: We see now the situation when the Crimea is under occupation by the Russian Federation. For the last year or two the situation differs from that we had observed during previous periods, if we talk about the protection that can be provided to those who live in the Crimea. The main groups of violations are enforced disappearance, deportation, forced displacement of people."
Fiona Fraser went on saying that OHCHR analyzes the situation in the Crimea not only from the point of view of guarantees of human rights and international law standards but also from the point of view of international humanitarian law, which is regulated by the Fourth Geneva Convention [the Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, approved on August 12, 1949, which regulates protection to those who in the event of conflict or occupation at any time and under any circumstances find themselves under the power of the party to the conflict or the occupying state of which they are not citizens." Ed.].
Speaking about the results of monitoring the human rights situation in Crimea over the past three months, Fraser noted that the UN mission conducted it despite the fact that Russia still does not allow them to enter the territory of the occupied Crimea, although the resolutions of the UN General Assembly require the Russian Federation to provide such access.
During the reporting period, OHCHR documented 28 violations of human rights in the Crimea, the main of which are enforced disappearances, restriction of freedom of thought and expression of views, including during the elections held, and infringement of property rights. The government of the Russian Federation is responsible for 25 of them, the government of Ukraine - for 3 of them.
“The Russian Federation continues to violate the norms of international law, applying its own legislation in the Crimea, and also conducting its elections, confiscating private property, conducting forced eviction or resettlement of Ukrainians.”
According to Fiona Fraser, one of these forcibly resettled Ukrainians is filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who since May 14 began a hunger strike in one of the correctional colonies of the Russian Federation. The report expresses concern about his state of health. International humanitarian law prohibits the forced transfer of prisoners (and other persons under protection) from the occupied territories to the territory of the occupying state, the Mission notes.
The UN report, in particular, cites the data provided by the Russian authorities, according to which, 155 people were deported from Crimea last year, whom the Russian Federation considers to be foreigners, that is, they are citizens of Ukraine who were on the territory of the Crimea. In 2018, this practice continued - thus, on February 2 this year 23 Ukrainian citizens who were employed at one of the construction projects in the Crimea were deported. The report notes that the hearings on their deportation were conducted on an expedited procedure, formally and without the presence of defense lawyers, which violated the guarantees of fair trial.
Furthermore, the Report notes that after the beginning of the occupation of Crimea in 2014, thousands of real estate objects in public and private ownership were confiscated. In particular, in Sevastopol, since November 2014 only, 1,800 land plots that were privately owned (some with facilities built on them) have been confiscated. Citizens are faced with "inconsistent judicial practice", in fact losing the opportunity to protect their property rights in court.
The UN report contains the following recommendations to Russian government on the Crimea:
“Respect obligations that apply to an Occupying Power pursuant to international humanitarian law, including the obligation to respect laws in force in the occupied territory. Refrain from criminalizing free speech and peaceful conduct, and quash all penalties imposed on Crimean residents for expressing dissenting views, including regarding the status of Crimea.”
Previously, the UN General Assembly in its resolutions of December 19, 2016 and 2017 recognized Russia as an occupying country of the Ukrainian Crimea and called on the Russian Federation to stop violating basic human rights in the occupied territory and to allow international monitoring missions on human rights to the peninsula. However, Russia continues to ignore the demands of international organizations.