Amnesty International strongly urges President Poroshenko to apply no amnesty to those who tortured captives
Amnesty International Human Rights Organization said that an amnesty bill passed by the Ukrainian parliament on September 16, 2014 and expected to be signed into law by President Petro Poroshenko soon, should not become a vehicle for denying the right of victims to justice.
"The Ukrainian government must ensure that perpetrators of all gross abuses of human rights and all acts carried out in the context of the fighting that amounted to crimes under international law, including war crimes and other grave abuses of human rights or international humanitarianlaw, are held accountable, and that full reparation is awarded to victims and their families," Amnesty International's office in Ukraine quotes its Director Tetiana Mazur as saying.
"Amnesty International strongly urges President Poroshenko to ensure that before he signs the bill, it is amended to include torture and other grave human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law in its list of crimes which will not be covered by the amnesty. Until this is done, the bill will only serve to facilitate the perpetuation of abuses by both sides to the conflict, endorse impunity for the perpetrators and deny justice to the victims," the organization said.
The law has been passed as part of the Ukrainian government's efforts to bring to an end the conflict tin the east of the country. It proposes waiving criminal responsibility for crimes committed by 'armed formations' from February 22, 2014 onwards, and lists a number of serious crimes to which the amnesty will not be extended. However, the parliament's approved bill does not include torture and other ill treatment in this list of exceptions.
Amnesty International has documented numerous incidents of torture and other ill treatment being used against captives by members of separatist armed groups, as well as of pro-Ukrainian forces in east Ukraine.
The organization has repeatedly called for such abuses to be promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice in accordance with Ukraine's obligations under international law.
As reported, according to the bill of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons who participated in events in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, it is proposed to exempt from criminal responsibility members of armed groups or persons involved in such groups, whom, in the period from February 22, 2014 until the date of entry into force of this law, in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where an anti-terrorist operation was conducted, committed acts that contain elements of offenses under the Criminal Code of Ukraine. This provision also applies to persons who were involved in the activities of the self-proclaimed authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk regions or who opposed the holding of the anti-terrorist operation.
The draft law applies to persons if they, within a month from the date of entry into force of the law, release or do not hold hostages, voluntarily surrender to state agencies and do not store firearms, ammunition, military equipment, and do not occupy the premises of state and local government agencies.
At the same time, the law does not apply to persons who are suspects, defendants and did not commit actions envisaged by Part 2, Article 1 of the law and/or are suspected (accused) of committing actions under Articles 112, 113, 115, Part 2, Article 121, Part 2, Article 147, Articles 149, 152, 153, 187, 201, 258, 297, 348, 349, 379, 400, 442, 443, 444 of the Criminal Code, or were convicted of offenses under these articles. The bill does not apply to individuals whose actions led to the crash of the Malaysia Airlines plane in Donetsk region on July 17, 2014 and/or who obstructed the investigation into the plane crash.
The law takes effect the day after it is published.