To the governments of the member states
of the UN Security Council
To the Council of Europe
To the governments of the OSCE member states
To the International Committee of the Red Cross
We, members of Ukraine 5 AM Coalition, an association of 29 Ukrainian NGOs, call on the international community to apply all possible methods of influencing the leadership of the Russian Federation urgently to prevent extrajudicial executions of prisoners of war, which may be the result of illegal decisions made by the quasi-state entity DPR controlled by Russia.
Thus, on June 9, 2022, in the Russian-occupied part of the Donetsk region of Ukraine, the occupation court of the Russian Federation sentenced to the death penalty three captured military men of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who are foreign citizens on charges of “recruitment, forcible seizure of power and training for terrorist activities.”
On July 9, 2022, it was reported that the occupation court of the Russian Federation in the occupied part of the Donetsk region of Ukraine sentenced two Ukrainian military men from the Azov regiment to the death penalty on the charge of “committing murders of prisoners and civilians.”
It is not the first of such so-called trials in the last eight years of the international armed conflict in Ukraine. Since 2014, the occupation courts of the Russian Federation have evolved from the so-called field courts to creating a quasi-judicial system that imitates the judicial system of the Russian Federation and its legislation, but in a more repressive interpretation of it.
Thus, the criminal code of the so-called DPR is similar to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, but the first one contains more articles about the death penalty, which is prohibited throughout Ukraine.
We claim that responsibility for applying the death penalty by quasi-judicial courts rests with the Russian Federation as the occupying power.
The Russian Federation has absolute control over the DPR and LPR, both of which it organized and is maintaining single-handedly, in terms of international criminal law, the Russian Federation has overall control over the illegal organized armed formations created and maintained by it, which exercise effective control over the territory of certain districts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
Russia is obliged to comply with the norms of international humanitarian law, in particular, Article 43 of the Hague Regulations to the Hague Convention-IV, Article 64 of the Convention on the Protection of the Civilian Population in Time of War, the provisions of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and to prevent violations of basic procedural judicial guarantees.
This process was carried out within a minuscule period in the conditions of an active phase of hostilities in the Donetsk region with clear and significant violations. A short trial in these conditions likely made a quality investigation with compliance with the standard of proof impossible beyond a reasonable doubt, also it may have prevented the accused from having sufficient time to prepare and conduct an effective defense.
Under these conditions, the Russian Federation is the one responsible for compliance with international humanitarian law, including the actions of illegal organized armed groups under its general control and its occupation authorities in the occupied territory.
We also understand that via sentencing prisoners of war to the death penalty, Russia pursues a political motive thus it is trying to blackmail the Ukrainian authorities and exert psychological pressure on Ukrainian society and the civilized international community, for whom human life is of the highest value. At the same time, the civilized world cannot ignore such actions of the Russian Federation and quasi-state entities controlled by it, and cannot allow them to carry out, per se, extrajudicial executions in front of the whole world, contrary to the norms of international humanitarian law and common sense.
Ukraine 5 AM Coalition calls on institutions created to prevent violations of basic human rights to apply all possible mechanisms of influence on Moscow in order to preclude executions of prisoners of war. And also to ensure proper treatment and conditions of detention of prisoners of war on the part of Russia and to provide Ukraine and international institutions with comprehensive information about their detention places and health status.
antonio muñoz, REPECAP, 19 January 2023, 15:10
ZAP, ZAP, 30 August 2022, 2:43