On November 28, 2016, in Uzhhorod in the small hall of the Zakarpattia Oblast State Administration, the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union in cooperation with the Main Territorial Department of Justice in the Zakarpattia Oblast presented the results of the monitoring study “Hell Survivors: the Testimonies of Victims of Illegal Detention Places in Donbas”.
The publication is the result of the monitoring study, carried out by human rights coalition of NGOs and initiatives “Justice for Peace in Donbas” in close cooperation with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights and aimed at documenting evidence of serious human rights violations related to illegal imprisonment in the zone of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The study is based on the testimonies of those who have been illegally detained in places of captivity in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts by illegal armed groups, on the materials collected during monitoring visits to the places of captivity in the liberated territories, as well as information obtained from public authorities and open sources.
After watching a documentary of the same name “Hell Survivors,” the organizers of the event have invited a war veteran to deliver a speech.
“We ate on the sixth or fifth day for the first time. Later in Snizhne we lived in the garage of the local police station. There have been detained up to 55 people. Because of a leg injury, I have not been forced to work, but the other guys have been forced to compulsory work. In general, during 21 days I lost 12 kilograms,” shared memories of unlawful detention conditions, Mykola Marchyshak, the head of the NGO “Sworn Brothers of Ukraine”.
“While documenting testimonies of victims, we faced with the fact that in 2014-2015 the Security Service of Ukraine questioned people only about the presence of weapons in the hands of terrorists. No criminal case on the fact of illegal detention has been registered. The Centre for Documentation knows that more than 3000 civilian and military people were captives. UHHRU, establishing cooperation with the military prosecutor’s office and sharing the information, has added more than 200 interviewees to the joint list,” said Oleksii Bida, a coordinator of the Center for Documentation of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union.
Ivan Almashi, the head of the regional department of the Office of the Government Agent for the European Court of Human Rights at the Main Territorial Department of Justice in the Zakarpattia Oblast highlighted the problem of Ukraine’s ratification of the Rome Statute, bringing international standards of some articles of the Constitution and the Criminal Code of Ukraine.
Borys Kondratiuk, a coordinator of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights in the Uzhhorod City, recalled the Geneva Convention ratified by Ukraine and Russia. However, some areas of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts have turned into a “gray zone,” where human rights mechanism lost its power.
Based on the collected data, the authors of the report propose a set of actions aimed at preventing the identified human rights violations on the territory uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government, attracting the attention of international community to the problems described and prosecuting perpetrators of these violations.