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Libyan Newswire

Russia urged to act on “systemic” abuses in Ukraine

2 Apr 2015

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The report highlights alleged human rights abuses in eastern Ukraine by groups that Russia “exercises influence” over. Photo: UNHCR

A list of apparent human rights failings have been levelled at Russia by UN human rights experts – including in conflict-hit Ukraine – who on Thursday called on the country to respect its international obligations.

Presenting their findings after a scheduled probe into the Russian Federation, the UN Human Rights Committee said that there were serious concerns over the number of alleged abuses in Crimea where Russia had influence, as well as the Donbas region of Ukraine.

Within Russia itself, one committee expert said that the space for freedom of expression was “shrinking”.

Daniel Johnson has more:

Speaking for the UN Human Rights Committee, investigator Yuval Shany expressed concern about alleged abuses in Ukraine by forces over which Russia “appears to have considerable influence”.

The UN report he co-authored highlights abuses “perpetrated by armed groups” in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republic.

The report calls on Russia to ensure that civilians are protected since it has “effective control” over what happens in conflict-hit areas in Ukraine.

Regarding South Ossetia and Chechnya in the northern Caucasus, the UN investigator said there were serious concerns about the “limited progress” Russia had made into investigating past and ongoing human rights abuses.

“In the Northern Caucasus and in Crimea, we were of the impression that the number of the allegation and the seriousness of the allegations, and the let’s say, less than convincing responses we received from the state on these two situations, do raise a systemic concern with regard to those two areas. “

Within Russia itself, Yuval Shany said there was a “reduced space” for civil liberties because of an “onslaught of legislation” which targeted people’s sexual, religious and internet freedom.

It also resulted in non-government organisations being labelled as “foreign agents”.

The UN Human Rights Committee is made up of 18 rights experts whose job is to monitor countries’ implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’27”