The human rights situation in Ukraine is alarming. Civilians are caught in the conflict between the Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian armed groups mainly in the East of the country. They are also abducted or arbitrarily detained, tortured, threatened and subjected to discrimination, especially in Crimea.
The serious human rights abuses committed between November 2013 and February 2014, when Euromaidan activists were repressed, received wide coverage from the world media. In-depth investigations were or are presently being carried out by international and national bodies, national civil society and international organisations.
The crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, shot down by a missile, brought the situation back onto the front page just as the international community’s interest was waning after the events in Maidan and Russia’s annexation of Crimea, having had little influence on efforts to solve the conflict.
It has become extremely difficult to document human rights violations in the context of the conflict between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian groups. This difficulty is due to the overall insecurity in the territory, difficulties in reaching conflict areas, obstacles impeding the work of journalists and NGOs, fears of reprisal on the part of victims if they provide testimony, and the information war waged by both sides.
The purpose of this paper is to highlight the main aspects of the grave human rights violations committed by the various parties to the conflict (some of which are tantamount to international crimes), to identify those responsible, and to make recommendations to international and national actors regarding the protection of the civilian population and the fight against impunity.
This paper is based on reliable, factual and cross-checked information gathered in June 2014 during a FIDH mission in Ukraine, organised in collaboration with FIDH’s partner organisation, the Center for Civil Liberties, as well as information provided by local NGOs and other independent information sources, including international organisations working in the country, such as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.