President Petro Poroshenko
11 Bankova street
26 June 2014
We, the undersigned members and partners of the Human Rights House Network (HRHN), condemned in the strongest terms human rights violations which took place throughout Ukraine since 29 November 2013, and now call upon you to extend the mandate of the International Criminal Court investigations (taking into account events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine) and to ratify the Rome Statute, in order to encourage such investigations, as an essential part of bringing peace to the country.
We welcome the repeated pledges of Ukrainian authorities to investigate all human rights violations committed since 29 November 2013 and hold those accountable, throughout the country and irrespective of which side the violator belongs to in the ongoing armed conflict in East Ukraine. The current situation of impunity must end.
The International Criminal Court is the only international body able to not only document grave human rights violations, amounting to core international crimes (war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide), but also investigate individuals responsible for such crimes. In order to restore peace and strengthen trust into State institutions, those responsible for such human rights violations have to be held accountable. We have for a long time called for a comprehensive reform of the judicial system in the country, which still remains to be initiated. Unfortunately, the national judicial system now shows its limits and in our view it is clear that it does not have the adequate knowledge, independence and resources to investigate all human rights violations since 29 November 2013 throughout the country.
Therefore, it is necessary to activate the international justice system, based on the complementarity principle, to guarantee that investigation into core international crimes committed by all parties in Ukraine, including by members of law enforcement and State agents, is credible and transparent, bringing those responsible to justice.
The Court’s jurisdiction should however not be limited in time, as it is now. On 17 April 2014, the Government of Ukraine indeed lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over crimes committed on its territory from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014. We now call upon the Government to issue a declaration extending ICC jurisdiction from 21 November 2013 until the date of the entry into force of the Rome Statute for Ukraine.
We also call upon the authorities in Ukraine to accede to the Rome Statute as soon as possible. By doing this, Ukraine will make an important step to permanently depart from the culture of impunity that is prevailing.
In addition to the investigation into human rights violations, and action taken to end the use of violence in the country, Ukraine needs to undertake a massive reform of its legislation and practice in many fields. Ukraine’s law enforcement agencies have needed radical reform for a long time now: It is not about changing the names of institutions and units or about window-dressing, but about systemic changes, starting from the principles for establishing and structuring enforcement agencies, and ending with approaches to evaluating their performance.
We therefore support Ukraine’s efforts to propose a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council’s on-going session, although we deeply regret the draft resolution’s silence about the role of civil society in the country and the need for an investigation by the Court.
In Ukraine, human rights NGOs have proven their strong commitment to the rule of law and the respect of all human rights for all people, as well as their high level of professionalism and excellence. No country can build a sustainable future without full inclusion of civil society in decision-making, especially Ukraine in its present situation. Furthermore, States and leaders in all sectors of society must acknowledge publicly the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and rule of law, and avoid stigmatisation, as stated by the Human Rights Council resolution 22/6 of 21 March 2013.
Finally, we also welcome the reference in the draft resolution on Ukraine at the Human Rights Council to the extremely worrying human rights situation in Crimea and join Ukrainian authorities, the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international voices, in condemning the enforcement of legislation of the Russian Federation on the territory of Crimea, at variance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/262.
The role of civil society is essential in documenting human rights violations in Crimea and providing support to victims of such violations. A field mission has been launched by Ukrainian and Russian human rights defenders in co-operation, with which we expect full cooperation by all governmental agents in Ukraine.
On this background, we call upon you Mr President and the Government, with no further delay, to issue a declaration to extend the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court from 21 November 2013 until the date of Ukraine’s accession to the Rome Statute either through appeal of the competent body of the Government or by adopting the Draft Law #4081a.
We further call upon you to:
Human Rights House Kyiv (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Education Human Rights House Chernihiv (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Azerbaijan Human Rights House (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius
Human Rights House Belgrade (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House London (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House Tbilisi (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House Oslo (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House Voronezh (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House Yerevan (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Human Rights House Zagreb (on behalf of the following NGOs):
The Rafto House in Bergen – Norway (on behalf of the following NGOs):
The House of the Helsinki Foundation For Human Rights – Poland (on behalf of the following NGOs):
Copies have been sent to:
About the Human Rights House Network (www.humanrightshouse.org)
The Human Rights House Network (HRHN) unites 87 human rights NGOs joining forces in 18 independent Human Rights Houses in 13 countries in Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and South Caucasus, East and Horn of Africa, and Western Europe. HRHN’s mandate is to protect, empower and support human rights organisations locally and unite them in an international network of Human Rights Houses.
The Human Rights House Kyiv and the Education Human Rights House Chernihiv are members of HRHN. 10 independent Ukrainian human rights NGOs are members of both Human Rights Houses.
The Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), based in Oslo (Norway) with an office in Geneva (Switzerland), is HRHN’s secretariat. HRHF is international partner of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders and the emerging Balkan Network of Human Rights Defenders.
HRHF has consultative status with the United Nations and HRHN has participatory status with the Council of Europe.