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Joint statement of human rights organizations regarding the establishment of a state system for monitoring and documenting human rights, international humanitarian law and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation

Ukrainian human rights organizations that, since 2014, have been monitoring and documenting human rights, international humanitarian law (IHL) and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation, request that relevant state authorities speed up the creation of a state system for monitoring and documenting human rights, IHL and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation.

Monitoring and documentation are a prerequisite for the implementation of transitional justice measures (prosecuting those responsible for violations, providing reparations to the victims, ensuring the right to truth and taking steps to prevent new human rights violations), as well as for the implementation of reintegration policy.

The legal framework for the Government’s monitoring and documenting of human rights, IHL and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation is provided by the Law of Ukraine No. 1207-VII (Article 5) of 15 April 2014 “On Ensuring the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens and the Legal Regime in the Temporarily Occupied Territory of Ukraine” and the Law of Ukraine No. 2268-VIII (Article 6) of 18 January 2018 “On the Particulars of State Policy on Ensuring State Sovereignty of Ukraine in the Temporarily Occupied Areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” .

Implementing the Strategy for the Deoccupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol approved by the Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 117/2021 of 24 March 2021 will not be possible without a state monitoring and documentation system, since monitoring and documentation as well as keeping records (databases) of violations of human rights, fundamental freedoms and IHL are common themes throughout the Strategy’s text.

The creation of a state system for monitoring and documenting human rights, IHL and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation must be based on the following principles:

– rather than simply focusing on establishing a state agency (Documentation Center), the system should also be aimed at building systemic and coordinated relations between the government and civil society in the field of monitoring and documenting violations, as well as at the development and adoption of regulatory, technical and methodological documents to ensure the creation and smooth operation of a database of violations; collection of data regarding violations and exchange of such data between state authorities and law enforcement agencies; work with information sources and victims/witnesses; their inclusion as participants in the justice-seeking process; ensuring maximum protection for victims/witnesses, such as protecting their personal information, ensuring their mental safety during interviews, obtaining informed consent to any action taken in relation to these persons; use of data; training of civil servants; interaction between state authorities in using data for the purpose of ensuring the implementation of transitional justice measures, implementation of reintegration policy, implementation of domestic and foreign policy, as well as implementation of dialogue processes at the regional and state level; fair distribution of reparations;

– safeguards should be established to avoid abuse due to the existence of a “monopolistic” state agency (Documentation Center), in particular, by creating a system of external experts and observers (for instance, in the form of a Supervisory Board) from among Ukrainian human rights organizations and international organizations;

– all central executive bodies, local self-government bodies and other state bodies (civil-military administrations, local state administrations, united territorial communities) should be involved in the operation of the state monitoring and documentation system;

– the effectiveness of the state monitoring and documentation system will depend on the level of cooperation between state authorities, in particular, on cooperation with law enforcement as well as with Ukrainian human rights organizations and international organizations that have accumulated data regarding violations and have experience in collecting, processing and using such data due to having been monitoring and documenting events related to the military aggression of the Russian Federation;

– the creation of a state monitoring and documentation system will require making some difficult decisions, since it will involve documenting human rights, IHL and other violations committed by all parties to the armed conflict started by the Russian Federation. Documentation must be thorough and impartial.

Ukrainian human rights organizations that monitor and document human rights, IHL and other violations committed during the military aggression of the Russian Federation stand ready to provide relevant state authorities with expert, informational, technical and other support for the creation of a state system for monitoring and documenting such violations.

 

Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group

Crimean Human Rights Group

 Truth Hounds NGO

Media Initiative for Human Rights

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