Events in Ukraine have surely dominated the Council of Europe’s human rights news agenda this year, as this review makes clear.
15.01.2014 : Report of the Committee of Experts on the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
10.02.2014 : “Excessive force was used against protesters by law enforcement officers and others working with them in recent months in Ukraine,” the human rights commissioner says at the end of a five day visit to the country.
20.02.2014: Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur appeals for an end to the violence and bloodshed in Ukraine, to save the country from “heading into an abyss.”
26.02.2014: Ukraine implements “satisfactorily, or dealt with in a satisfactory manner, only three of the 16 recommendations,” made in a 2011 evaluation survey by the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
04.03.2014: Long-standing core human rights challenges in Ukraine, have been brought to the fore by civil unrest in the country, the human rights commissioner declares today.
08.03.2014 : “To hold a referendum, at such short notice, using closed questions, without consultation with the national authorities and in the unauthorized presence of military forces, in flagrant violation of international law, is a travesty of the democratic process and one that I condemn,” said Herwig Van Staa.
13.03.2014: Judges award a total of €37,000 to four Communist activists who made human rights complaints against Ukraine.
18.03.2014 “I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of Crimea and annex it into the Russian Federation,” says Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur.
19.03.2014: Application no. 20958/14, Ukraine v. Russia I, regarding the events in Crimea – Application lodged following the events in Crimea and subsequent developments in South-Eastern regions of Ukraine. The Government of Ukraine also submitted a request under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court for an interim measure indicating to the Russian government, among other things, that it should refrain from measures which might threaten the life and health of the civilian population on the territory of Ukraine.
The court decides to apply Rule 39. With a view to preventing violations of the Convention, it calls upon both Parties concerned to refrain from taking any measures, in particular military actions,
which might entail breaches of the convention rights of the civilian population, including putting their life and health at risk, and to comply with their engagements under the convention, notably in respect of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) (P7).
21.03.2014 : The Venice Commission gives its opinion on ‘Whether the decision taken by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine to organise a referendum on becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation or restoring Crimea’s 1992 Constitution is compatible with constitutional principles.’
24.03.2014: Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland warns of the impact on other countries of calls from within the United Kingdom to abandon the European human rights system. In an interview with the Financial Times newspaper, Jagland states: “There are forces in many countries that dislike being under an international court. If one country starts to withdraw, then others might like to do the same. It is very important that we have a common legal basis, especially when you consider what’s happening in Crimea.”
25.03.2014 “The number one priority here has to be the adoption of a new constitution, followed by the adoption of a unified electoral law that can enable the forthcoming elections to proceed smoothly,” assembly president Anne Brasseur declares, at the end of a three-day visit to the country.
26.03.2014: A ‘Statement on Ukraine,’ is published by Russia’s delegation to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, following the organisation’s strong opposition to the country’s actions in Crimea.
31.03.2014: A Rianovosti news report claims that a proposal to suspend Russia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly or remove voting rights, would be considered a “provocation,” by the country’s authorities.
02.04.2014 The Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities reports on ‘The Situation In Ukraine’ to the Committee of Ministers, following its ad hoc visit (21-26 March)
07.04.2014: Concerns about “the safety and access to rights of minority populations in Crimea, in particular the Crimean Tatars and persons belonging to the Ukrainian community,” are revealed in a new report from the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM).
09.04.2014: The International Advisory Panel meets for the first time to begin work on the judicial investigations of violent clashes in Ukraine between protesters and security forces.
10.04.2014: Assembly parliamentarians vote decisively to suspend the voting rights of Russia’s delegation following the country’s annexation of Crimea.
13.06.2014: An interim measure is requested by Ukraine in a new application lodged with the court against Russia concerning 16 children and two teachers reportedly transferred from Ukraine to Russia. On the same day, the court decides to apply an interim measure under Rule 39 asking Russia to ensure respect for the convention rights of the persons concerned and immediately return them to Ukraine.
At the same time, the court asked Russia to submit information on the circumstances of these persons’ transfer to and their stay in Russia and on how compliance with the interim measure has been ensured. The interim measure has now been lifted as it has been confirmed that the persons concerned have been returned to Ukraine. The case lodged remains pending. (p.7)
20.06.2014 : Signature of the Protocols No. 15 and 16 amending the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. These amendments signed by Ukraine maintain the effectiveness of the European Court of Human Rights and allows it to give advisory opinions on questions of principle relating to the interpretation or application of the rights and freedoms defined in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
09.07.2014: An interim measure is requested by Ukraine in a new application lodged with Court against Russia concerning the detention in Simferopol of Hayser Dzhemilov. Separately, an individual application (no. 49522/14) is lodged against both Ukraine and Russia concerning the same subject-matter, accompanied by a request for an interim measure to be issued.
10.07.2014: The European Court of Human Rights applies Rule 39 of the Rules of Court and indicated to the governments of Russia and Ukraine that they should ensure respect for the convention rights of H. Dzhemilov including, in particular, respect for security of his person and his right to legal assistance (p.7-8).
17.07.2014 : Human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks writes to Ukraine’s Prime Minister, to express concerns over the situation of the country’s internally displaced people.
18.07.2014 : Council of Europe leaders unite in their condemnation of the attack on the Malaysia Airlines civilian flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, which killed 298 people.
07.08.2014: The annexation of Crimea is the backdrop to a downbeat assesment of the state of democracy in Europe, by Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur, as the organisation celebrates its 65th anniversary.
12.08.2014: Some 55 individual applications were lodged with the court either against both Ukraine and Russia or one of those States exclusively which are related to the events in Crimea and South-Eastern regions of Ukraine. In a number of these cases, where there has been an imminent threat of a breach of Articles 2 or 3 of the Convention in particular, the court applied Rule 39 and indicated that the respondent government(s) should take, without delay, actions with a view to ensuring respect for the convention rights of the persons concerned and inform the court of the measures taken. (p.8)
08.09.2014: Drug-policy expert Robert Teltzrow outlines how the Ukraine government is tackling illegal drug abuse and the threat of HIV transmission.
10.09.2014: European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) evaluation
15.09.2014: “It is crucial to conduct an effective investigation into possible violations of the right to life and the prohibition against torture and to ensure accountability for the perpetrators,” says the Commissioner for Human Rights, at the end of his 7 – 12 September visits to Kyiv, Moscow and Simferopol.
19.09.2014 : Report concerning the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by Ukraine
29.09.2014 : Democratic countries must unite to stop Russia and save Ukraine, says the country’s former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
October update: European Court of Human Rights country profile
02.10.2014: Airline workers win the backing of human rights judges in their protest at a strike ban imposed by Ukraine authorities.
27.10.2014: Serious human rights violations and attacks on minorities and journalists in Crimea require urgent action, the Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks declares.
30.10.2014: Human rights judges today ruled that the Ukrainian authorities breached human rights law by detaining for 10 days a political opponent of former President Yanukovych.
26.11.2014: The European Court of Human Rights confirms actions it has taken on complaints concerning Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
28.11.2014: A Parliamentary Assembly committee urges all sides in the conflict in Ukraine to fully respect the Minsk ceasefire and to refrain from the use of force and violence, particularly against civilians.
30.11.2014: The Council of Europe marks the anniversary of the events at the Kyiv Maidan between 30 November 2013 and 22 February 2014, which resulted in the deaths of over 100 civilians and some 13 members of the police force and in grave injuries of very many more.