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Ukraine crisis: Pillay sends urgent call for restraint

Ukraine crisis: Pillay sends urgent call for restraint after deadly clashes in Kiev

GENEVA (19 February 2014) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Wednesday called on all parties in Ukraine to exercise maximum restraint after 22 people were killed during violent clashes in Kiev between riot police and protesters on Tuesday.

“I strongly condemn the killings and urge the Government and protesters to act to defuse tensions and to take swift action to find a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis,” Pillay said.

“I also call for an urgent and independent investigation to establish facts and responsibilities, including the possible use of excessive force, and to ensure accountability for these deadly clashes,” she said.

On 18 February the situation in Ukraine took a violent turn for the worse when protesters attempted in the morning to march on Parliament ahead of a crucial debate reinstating the 2004 Constitution, which would significantly limit the powers of the president.

Violent clashes erupted between riot police and protesters near the Parliament building. The violence continued as riot police tried to clear the protesters' camp in Independence Square. Police fired rubber bullets as well as stun and smoke grenades from trucks, and some protesters threw Molotov cocktails and bricks.

At least 22 people were killed, among them journalists, police officers and protesters. The Ministry of Health reported that 241 people had been taken to hospital.

“I reiterate my call for respect for the right to peaceful assembly, as provided under international human rights law, to be respected,” said the High Commissioner.

“Ukraine needs a dialogue between these opposing voices that respects the country’s legal obligations, political commitments based on international human rights standards, and the recommendations made by the international human rights system,” she said.

“My Office stands ready to offer its assistance on possible reforms relating to human rights,” Pillay said.

ENDS

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