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INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SUCCESS OF UKRAINE IN 2017: FACTS AND EVENTS (CONTINUED)

03.02.2018 / 19:03
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INTERNATIONAL LEGAL SUCCESS OF UKRAINE IN 2017: FACTS AND EVENTS (CONTINUED)

2017 is full of many events in the international legal field for Ukraine. The main ones are highlighted in the material prepared statements and comments through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.  This publication is a continuation of the article "International legal success of Ukraine in 2017: facts and events".

On July 5, 2017, the Government of the Netherlands on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, which are States Parties to the Joint Investigation Team for the Malaysian Airlines MН17 aircraft, announced a joint decision to elect a mechanism to prosecute those responsible for this crime.

The Russian Federation in 2015 blocked the resolution of the UN Security Council on the establishment of an international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for shooting down the plane.

In this regard, having considered various options for establishing a prosecution mechanism and based on the findings of the investigation into the downfall of the Malaysian Airlines flight MН17, the investigating States adopted a decision to prosecute a MН17 flight under the legal system of the Netherlands.

The legal basis for implementing this decision will be the agreement between Ukraine and the Kingdom of the Netherlands on international legal cooperation for offenses related to the downfall of the MН17 flight plan, which is scheduled to be signed on July 7, 2017. The agreement provides for practical aspects of the transfer of jurisdiction from Ukraine to the Netherlands, enabling the participation of all suspects in the crime in the Dutch court process.

The States Parties investigation into shooting down a plane Malaysian airlines flight MН17 share a common view that the criminal proceedings in the Netherlands will be conducted at a high professional level, objectively and impartially.

The trial will be based on the existing results of the investigation of the Joint Group, but this will not imply the suspension of investigatory actions.The states investigating the downfall of the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 will continue to work closely together to bring criminals to justice.The States Parties to the Joint Group will also make efforts to attract the widest international support, including through the main United Nations institutions.

The transfer of criminal proceedings to the Netherlands has become an important step towards establishing justice.

On July 9, 2017, the 26th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly was adopted by two resolutions initiated by the members of the Permanent Delegation of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly entitled "On restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine" and "On enhancing energy security in the OSCE region" which are included in the Minsk Declaration, approved by the results of the Assembly's work in Minsk.

The resolution "On restoring sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine" condemns the temporary occupation by the Russian Federation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, the continuation of Russia's aggression against Ukraine in the Donbass and the systematic non-fulfillment by the aggressor state of previous resolutions of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

The approval of the resolution "On enhancing energy security in the OSCE region" was the recognition by the OSCE participating States of the importance of protecting critical energy infrastructure, strengthening energy security during times of crisis, and preventing the use of energy as a political weapon in the OSCE region.

The resolution of the General Committee of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on Political Affairs and Security was also approved, which condemns the fact of Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine, it has calls for the cessation of hostilities in Ukraine, it convicts the facts of pressure, persecution and intimidation of observers of the OSCE SMM, which take place in separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, controlled by "Russian hybrid troops", appeals to the Russian Federation as an occupying power in the Crimea to remove all restrictions that impede the freedom of movement of the OSCE's SMM.

On July 11, 2017, a decision was taken by the Council of the EU on the ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

The decision of the EU Council on the ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU is of particular importance, since its adoption took place on the eve of the 19th Ukraine-EU Summit, which took place in Kyiv on July 12-13, 2017.

The 10 years since the start of negotiations on the Association Agreement prior to its entry into force have radically changed Ukraine.The reforms become irreversible and systemic.

On September 1, 2017, the date of entry into force of the Agreement in full and will become a landmark date in the newest history of Ukraine.

The Association Agreement along with the visa-free regime is the first but sure step on the way to Ukraine's full and definitive existence in the common European space.

On August 2, 2017, the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood and Cooperation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia was signed.

The signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood and Cooperation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia will contribute to strengthening security, creating a climate of mutual trust and partnership in the region.

The treaty is an example of the readiness of the leadership of Bulgaria and Macedonia to solve important issues in a civilized way, adhering to European values and approaches.

Strengthening of the Bulgarian-Macedonian relations is important for Ukraine, taking into account the traditionally friendly relations between Ukraine and Bulgaria and Macedonia, as well as a common commitment to European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

On September 6, 2017, a thematic report of the SMM "Restriction of freedom of movement and other obstacles to the fulfillment of the SMM mandate" was issued in January-June 2017, the overwhelming majority of gross violations of the freedom of movement of observers were recorded on the territory of the Ukrainian government uncontrollably controlled by certain regions of Donetsk and Lugansk regions.Of particular concern is the announcement of the hostile attitude of pro-Russian militants to SMM observers, sometimes accompanied by violence.

System restrictions on the movement of Russian hybrid forces are used during attempts by the SMM to enter uncontrolled sections of the Ukrainian-Russian border.The SMM has reported about 40 such cases for the reporting period.Such actions by the Russian Federation are a gross violation of Article 4 of the Minsk Protocol on ensuring permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian state border and verification by the OSCE of establishing a security zone in the border areas of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.They are aimed at the uninterrupted supply of Russian weapons, ammunition and mercenaries to the territory of Ukraine.

On September 25, 2017, a thematic report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the topic "Situation with human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)" was published.The report is the result of the hard work of establishing the system of human rights violations by the Russian Federation in the illegally occupied Crimea, the logical association and the generalization of human rights violations, which were documented by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in the period from February 2014 to September 2017.

The scale of internationally wrongful acts and offenses committed by the Russian occupation authorities in the Crimea testify to Russia's neglect of the international legal obligations arising from the Hague and Geneva Conventions.In addition to criminal offenses committed by the occupation authorities in Crimea against Crimean Tatars, Ukrainians and all those who continue to oppose the Russian occupation, specific cases of illegal detention, enforced disappearances and abductions, extrajudicial executions and other violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights are given.

The report is the first step towards the systematic implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/205, which, together with the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262 are fundamental documents confirming the territorial integrity of Ukraine, condemns the temporary occupation by Russia of part of the territory of Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea andthe city Sevastopol, but they do not recognize the annexation of the peninsula.

On October 5, 2017, the European Parliament passed resolutions calling for the immediate release of the Crimean Tatar leaders AkhtemChiygoz and IlmiUmerovand the unconditional withdrawal of all allegations against journalist MykolaSeemeni.

The resolution was supported by all major political groups and was already the second in 2017, a document aimed at protecting human rights in the Crimea.

The European Parliament fully shares the assessment of Ukraine and the international community, in particular contained in the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on September 25, 2017, on the critical human rights situation in the occupied peninsula.

The resolution requires the Russian Federation to implement the interim decision of the International Court of Justice in order to stop the illegal prosecution of the Crimean Tatar people and to resume the Mejlis.

European parliamentarians are calling for sanctions, in particular freezing of assets and visa restrictions, against those involved in gross violations of human rights in the Crimea, including responsible for the illegal condemnation of AkhtemChiygoz,IlmiUmerov and MykolaSeemeni.

On October 19, 2017, the OSCE Permanent Council at the 1161st meeting approved the decision to extend the mandate of the Observer Mission on two Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk until January 31, 2018.

On November 8, 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted a new comprehensive decision on the situation in Ukraine.

The document highlights the achievements of Ukraine in the path of reform, as well as the commitment of the Council of Europe to the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The decision underlines the responsibility of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Minsk agreements, primarily with regard to the ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops, armed units and military equipment, and calls for their full and rapid implementation.

The Committee of Ministers reiterated its commitment to fully implement all previously adopted decisions on the situation in Ukraine.

In particular, it is a recent decision of May 3, 2017 concerning the situation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine), in which the Committee of Ministers recognized Russia's responsibility in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, called on the Russian Federation authorities to fulfill their obligations and stop repression.

Particular attention is paid to the need to adequately protect the civilian population suffering as a result of the conflict caused by Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

The decision calls on the Council of Europe to provide unimpeded access for humanitarian organizations to temporarily occupied territories.We expect that the Russian Federation will take appropriate measures to ensure such access, first of all, to the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

The Committee of Ministers recognized the progress in reforming the judiciary and updates the selection of new judges of the Supreme Court of Ukraine.

The launch of the work of three new anti-corruption bodies, such as the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, is also highly praised.

The Committee of Ministers separately congratulated the initiative of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on the creation of an anti-corruption court, and also noted the Ukrainian party's ratification of Protocol No. 15 and Protocol No. 16 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

The Council of Europe has commended progress in decentralization, in particular in such important areas as fiscal decentralization and community integration.

On November 14, 2017, the Third Committee of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly approved a draft resolution entitled "Status of Human Rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol (Ukraine)".42 countries from different parts of the world have been co-authorship of the document, in particular: Australia, Austria, Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Haiti, Georgia, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Canada, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Palau, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, United Kingdom, USA, Turkey, Ukraine, Finland, France, Germany, Croatia, Czech Republic, Montenegro, Sweden, Japan."For" the document voted 71 states, "against" - 25 and 77 abstained.

This resolution is a logical extension of last year's General Assembly resolution 71/205 on human rights in the occupied Crimea.The decision to introduce a new document is due to the continuation of the Russian Federation criminal policy in the occupied Crimea.The Russian Federation has not complied with any of the provisions of the previous UN General Assembly resolution, reinforcing repression against ethnic Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and others who express disagreement with the occupation of the peninsula.The Russian Federation refuses to grant UN representatives access to the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea, despite the numerous appeals of OHCHR.

Such assessments of the human rights situation in Crimea coincide with the findings of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which, in pursuance of resolution 71/205, prepared and issued in September 2017 a separate report entitled "Situation of human rights in the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)".The report makes a clear conclusion: "The situation with human rights in the Crimea after its occupation by the Russian Federation has considerably deteriorated."

The resolution "The State of Human Rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)" aims to make the Russian Federation, as the occupying power, to stop systemic and massive violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The revised text of the resolution greatly reinforces the demands of the international community towards the occupying country:

First, it is Ukraine's support for the de-occupation of Crimea.

Secondly, the document contains a call for the implementation of the Order on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by Ukraine in the case concerning Application of the InternationalConvention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Conventionon the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation) dated 19 April 2017.

Thirdly, the closed access to the peninsula remains with international monitoring missions.This problem directly affects the everyday life of the Crimean residents, and therefore requires an immediate solution.Continuous direct international monitoring of the situation will have a deterrent effect and will act as a controlling mechanism in keeping with the Russian Federation's obligations as an occupying authority in accordance with international humanitarian law.The resolution is one of the elements of pressure on Russia and the opening of the Crimea for international monitoring.

The resolution condemns the unlawful application of the Russian legal system, including retroactive, and expropriation of property and automatic distribution of Russian citizenship to residents of the Crimea in the temporarily occupied territory of the Russian Federation, in accordance with international humanitarian law, prohibits the prizes of residents of the peninsula in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

On November 16, 2017, the European Parliament adopted a Recommendation to the EU Council, the European Commission and the European External Action Service to further develop the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative. The document was supported by the majority of the deputies of the European Parliament representing all parliamentary pro-European political forces without exception.

On December 4, 2017, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court published the "Report on Preliminary Investigations in 2017".The case "Situation in Ukraine" is the subject of preliminary investigation on 25 April 2014.The Office of the Prosecutor received 70 appeals in accordance with Article 15 of the Statute on crimes that may have been committed since November 21, 2013.

On December 11, 2017, the Venice Commission considered the appeal of Ukraine to the Law of Ukraine "On Education" in the shortest possible time.

The recommendations contained in the official conclusion will help to implement the Law Published on December 11, 2017,with their consideration in the interests of the Ukrainian language as a state language, as well as taking into account the importance of ensuring the development of languages of national minorities of Ukraine for self-identification and in places of compact residence.

The decision of the Venice Commission allows the transfer of the issue of further implementation of educational reform in Ukraine solely on an expert basis.

On December 19, 2017, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution entitled "Situation with human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)", which is a logical and consistent confirmation of the position of the international community in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which was first recorded in resolution 68/262, approved in 2014 and developed in the resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations 71/205 in 2016.

Systemic non-compliance by the Russian Federation with the previous resolution of the General Assembly of the UN, the prevention of international monitoring mechanisms on the territory of the ARC, leads to a significant deterioration of the human rights situation in the occupied Crimea.Therefore, the General Assembly continues to keep the situation under control.

The new resolution contains clear wording on the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as part of the territory of Ukraine.The General Assembly of the United Nations condemns the temporary occupation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation and does not recognize the attempts of its annexation by the occupying power.The General Assembly also expressed its support for efforts to free Crimea from the occupation of Russia.

In the context of the situation regarding the protection of human rights in the Crimea as a result of its illegal occupation by Russia, special reference is made in the resolutions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Protocol of 1977.The Russian Federation must abide by the obligations of the occupying powers in conditions of armed conflict, in particular regarding the humane treatment of the population in the occupied territory, the protection of its rights under international humanitarian law.

One of the central elements of the resolution remains to ignore the Russian call for unhindered access to international human rights mechanisms, including the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, to the temporarily occupied peninsula to monitor and report on the situation in accordance with their mandate.

The appeal is contained in the resolution of the UN General Assembly to implement the order of the UN International Court of Justice in the case of Ukraine against the Russian Federation on April 19, 2017, which has not been complied with by the Russian Federation.

Fixation and condemnation in the UN General Assembly resolution on systemic human rights violations committed by the Russian occupation authorities, including extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, politically motivated persecution, restrictions on basic political rights of the Crimean residents, should become an important step towards defending the rights and civil freedoms of Ukrainian citizens who were in occupation.

 

Material prepared N. V. Hendel

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