UN Human Rights Office criticises situation in Crimea

Russian state agents behind 'grave violations' in Crimea: UN

United Nations mission monitoring human rights in Ukraine has no powers to assess the situation in the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol, the two constituent territories of the Russian Federation, and that is why its materials and conclusions on the situation in Crimea have no legitimacy, a senior diplomat at Russia's mission to the worldwide organizations in Geneva told TASS on Monday.

The report says most of these violations, including arbitrary arrests and detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, involve members of the security forces and Crimean self-defense, and have not been effectively investigated.

"There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress", UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement.

"Imposing citizenship on the inhabitants of an occupied territory can be equated to compelling them to swear allegiance to a power they may consider as hostile, which is forbidden under the Fourth Geneva Convention", Hussein said.

"Persons holding a residency permit and no Russian Federation citizenship do not enjoy equality before the law and are deprived of important rights, " he said.

The report urged Russian Federation to "effectively investigate" alleged torture, abductions and killings in the peninsula and called the worldwide community to support push for that access.

They cited the case of the Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was arrested in May 2014 on charges of "plotting terrorist acts", taken to Lefortovo Prison in Moscow and, after his trial and conviction in August 2015, sent to a high-security penal colony in Siberia. Proceeding from this stance, the authors of the document invoke provisions of the worldwide law that apply to temporarily occupied territories.

Immediately after annexing Crimea, Russian authorities said that all Ukrainians on the peninsula would be recognized as Russian citizens, unless they submitted a written rejection.

It says there is no accountability for these crimes, so violations continue with impunity.

Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine after the overthrow of Ukraine's pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych following mass protests in Kiev.

"Education in the Ukrainian language has nearly disappeared from Crimea", it added. "Victims and witnesses have accused the Crimean self-defence of violence against pro-Ukrainian activists", it says.

It added that the ban on the Mejlis "has infringed on the civil, political and cultural rights of Crimean Tatars".

The rights investigators were not permitted to enter Crimea, so their report is based on interviews conducted from mainland Ukraine. "The judiciary has failed to uphold the rule of law and exercise proper administration of justice".

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