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Ukraine: “Violence and death toll totally unacceptable”

Ukraine: “Violence and death toll totally unacceptable” – Key UN expert group urges restraint and real dialogue

GENEVA (21 February 2014) – Representatives of the largest body of independent experts* in the United Nations human rights system today called for an immediate end to renewed clashes in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine that have seen numerous deadly casualties and scores of injuries among the protestors and the security forces.

“We are horrified by what has been happening in Kiev,” said Chaloka Beyani, who currently heads the Coordination Committee of international experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. “We strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the security forces against the protestors. We urge restraint and an urgent, independent and thorough investigation into the forces’ action.”

“We further urge the authorities to shed full light on the several cases of enforced disappearances of protestors since late November 2013,” Mr. Beyani pointed out. “Similarly, we condemn the alleged repeated targeting by the security forces of media personnel who report on the protests, and urge the forces to respect and facilitate their work.”

The group of international human rights experts stressed that those responsible for ordering and perpetrating arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, acts of torture and other human rights violations are accountable for their actions under national and international law.

“We also condemn violence perpetrated by some protestors and urge them to renounce violence,” Mr. Beyani added, while urging the security forces to differentiate between peaceful protestors and violent elements in their handling of the situation. “Respect for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed under international human rights law, is absolutely essential,” he underscored.

The experts called on the Ukrainian Government and the opposition to resume meaningful dialogue to put an end to the appalling human rights situation. “Violence must stop now”, they said.

“Given their expertise in a wide range of human rights issues, our independent experts will continue to follow the situation closely and take any action as necessary,” Mr. Beyani noted. “They stand ready to support any initiatives to ensure the protection of human rights and engage constructively with all parties. In line with the standing invitation extended by Ukraine to special procedures, we call on the Government to facilitate their visit to the country,” the expert added.

“We welcome the efforts by the international community to help all parties to find a lasting solution to the crisis. No effort should be spared to reinstate a climate where human rights are fully protected and we call on all parties to take their responsibilities in that regard,” Mr. Beyani concluded.

ENDS

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