14:17 17.06.2021

Human rights activists demand exclusion of people considered mistakenly included in sanctions lists by NSDC decision of May 14, 2021

4 min read

KYIV. June 17 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The Human Rights Agenda Coalition demands the exclusion of a number of people whom it considers erroneously included in the sanctions lists of "kingpins" and "crime bosses" by the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) decision dated May 14, 2021.

During a press conference at Interfax-Ukraine, the human rights activists said that the NSDC sanction list of May 14, 2021, which includes 674 people, including 557 "kingpins," most of whom live abroad and 111 foreign "crime bosses," contains a group of persons against whom the sanctions were applied unreasonably.

They recalled the statement of Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov of June 4, which mentioned that "since the beginning of the year there were 34 people on the territory of Ukraine who had the status of 'kingpins,' who are no longer in the country." At the same time, "out of 111 'crime bosses' in Ukraine, 42 remained, in respect of whom the procedure of expulsion from the country continues."

"Some 34 'kingpins' in Ukraine at the beginning of 2021 is a plausible number, if we recall the recent numerous publications in the media about 'kingpins.' Some 557 'kingpins' are meaningless data. Suppose that in Ukraine there really were 111 foreign criminals, including about 80 Russian citizens, for whom the NSDC sanctions were applied reasonably. Then the grounds for applying sanctions against at least 450 people on the list are completely incomprehensible," the coalition said in the statement.

According to human rights activists, most of the persons on the sanctions list are from the Caucasus or Transcaucasia. At the same time, there are 366 natives of Georgia on the list, some 48 from Azerbaijan, some 37 from Armenia, some 36 form Chechnya, some 15 from Dagestan and one from Abkhazia. In total, 503 people. There are 15 stateless persons on the list, six more have no citizenship.

"There were mistakes when Ukrainian citizens were named as Russian citizens," the human rights activists said.

According to the human rights coalition, the list includes seven Russian citizens, who participated in hostilities in Donbas, defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

"The inclusion of this group of persons in the sanctions lists violates Articles 3 and 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). They cannot return to Russia, they face torture and death. They will also not be able to decide the NSDC status. Such actions of the government towards their defenders are simply immoral," the coalition said.

As noted by human rights activists, "there are many people on the list who did not commit crimes and administrative offenses, but by the decision of the NSDC they are forced to leave the country."

"They are canceled all permits [permanent residence, permanent residence, immigration permit], squeezed out of Ukraine, and if they were abroad when making a decision, they are not allowed to enter. Committing such actions by the state is a typical political persecution," the coalition said.

As noted in the human rights coalition, "the law enforcement agencies of Ukraine justify the need to apply sanctions against these persons by violating the rules of stay in Ukraine, lack of permanent sources of income or permanent residence, etc."

At the same time, according to the statement, "there is not a single piece of evidence to support these charges."

As noted, "in a situation of applying such measures, the state must ensure the observance of the right to a fair trial, the principle of the presumption of innocence, the right to respect for private and family life, and an effective remedy."

"None of these guarantees were observed. Thus, the applied sanctions grossly violate Articles 6, 7, 8, 13 of the ECHR, as well as Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the European Convention," the human rights activists said.

In addition, as noted, "the sanctions provide for the expulsion of hundreds of foreigners from several countries of origin."

"This is a gross violation of Article 4 of Protocol 4 to the ECHR, which prohibits the collective expulsion of foreigners. Such actions of the state are not only a violation of international obligations, but will also entail an international scandal with great damage to the reputation of Ukraine."

"We see how the NSDC constantly removes people from the sanctions lists according to its decisions of past years. We demand to correct our mistakes in relation to people mistakenly included in the sanctions lists by the NSDC decision dated May 14, 2021," the human rights coalition said.

They also said that according to the Law on Sanctions, the public authorities that applied the sanctions can lift them."