For a sobering look at what is going on in the Donbas ant the Crimea, behind the headlines, see
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, 16 September 2014“.”
The U.N. report describes both the influx of fighters from Russia in late August, and widespread violations of human rights in areas of Ukraine under Russian or Russian puppet control, as well as some abuses by militias on the Ukrainian side.
The report states, in part, the following:
3. Between 24 August and 5 September, fighting escalated in the east. Armed groups of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ were bolstered by an increasing number of foreign fighters, including citizens of the Russian Federation2. On 27 August, the so-called ‘prime minister’ of the ‘Donetsk people’s republic’, Alexander Zakharchenko, stated on Russian State television that 3,000-4,000 Russians were fighting alongside the armed groups, including former or serving Russian soldiers, on leave from their posts. Incursions were made by the armed groups into areas that the Government forces had recently regained particularly in the Donetsk region. In a number of areas, Ukrainian armed forces reported being bombarded by the armed groups with advanced weaponry. Ukrainian forces were pushed back from their positions in other areas of the southeast, including the border town of Novoazovsk, captured from Ukrainian armed forces on 27 August.
9. Armed groups continued to terrorise the population in areas under their control, pursuing killings, abductions, torture, ill-treatment and other serious human rights abuses, including destruction of housing and seizure of property. They abducted people for ransom and forced labour and to use them in exchange for their fighters held by the Ukrainian authorities. They also continued to practice forced mobilisation of civilians and threatened the local population with executions. Reports also continued of parallel governing structures being set up in the ‘Donetsk and Luhansk peoples’ republics’. An unlawful ‘criminal code’ was adopted by the so-called ‘presidium of the council of ministers’ of the ‘Donetsk people’s republic’; and entered ‘into force’ on 18 August. Modelled on the criminal code of the Russian Federation, its provisions include the establishment of military tribunals to implement death sentences to be applied in cases of aggravated murder.
10. There have also been continued allegations of human rights violations committed by some volunteer battalions under Government control, which have been undertaking police functions in many of the liberated towns and villages. The Government needs to exercise more control over all of its forces, including the volunteer battalions, and to ensure accountability for any violations and crimes committed by their members.
18. In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the human rights situation continued to be marked by multiple and ongoing violations. As previously reported, the introduction of Russian Federation legislation, in contravention with General Assembly resolution 68/262, continued to curtail freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, religion or belief. Property rights have been violated through ‘nationalisation’ and the illegal seizure of property by decision of the de facto authorities and actions by the so-called ‘Crimean self-defence’. Law enforcement personnel continued to conduct searches, particularly among the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian population, claiming to look for ‘extremist’ material. The number of IDPs from Crimea on mainland Ukraine has further increased to 17,794.10 The HRMMU continued to seek access to Crimea, and reiterated a request to establish a sub-office there.
It should come as no surprise that those who trample the rule of law on the international level also do the same within conquered territories under their control, and at home.
The Trenchant Observer