UN Human Rights Office criticises situation in Crimea

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Thousands of Crimean residents have refused to live under Russian rule and fled to the Ukrainian mainland.

The United States on September 25 said it is "deeply troubled" by the conviction of RFE/RL journalist Mykola Semena by a court in Russia-occupied Crimea last week.

"It's noteworthy recalling that the report was drafted by the United Nations mission for monitoring human rights in Ukraine, which is operating there in line with a bilateral agreement between the Ukrainian government and the OHCHR", the diplomat said.

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

"As the report states, 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", Zeid added.

The U.N. monitors note the deportation of citizens of an occupied territory is prohibited under worldwide humanitarian law. "Among other implications, this led to the arbitrary implementation of Russian Federation criminal law provisions created to fight terrorism, extremism and separatism, which have restricted the right to liberty and security of the person and the space for the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms".

"We call on the Russian occupation authorities to vacate Mr. Semena's conviction, allow him to resume his journalistic activity, and cease their campaign to stifle dissent in Crimea", the statement reads.

Education in Ukrainian has nearly disappeared and Russian Federation has banned the Mejlis, a body representing Crimean Tatars, whose members have been subjected to intimidation, house searches and detention, the report said. The report, which was prepared by the organization, noted that the situation after 2014, "much worse".

The report cites two cases recorded in 2016, "when Pro-Ukrainian supporters were allegedly forced to confess to the FSB in crimes related to terrorism, due to the application of torture with elements of sexual violence".

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

Lead author Fiona Frazer, who also runs the UN's office in Ukraine, told reporters that "a lack of impartiality of the judiciary" in Crimea had left those abused with little hope of legal justice and accountability. "There is an urgent need for accountability for human rights violations and abuses and for providing the victims with redress", he said.

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