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Close up of Nils Muižnieks, new Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, 2012
© CoE

Council of Europe: Commissioner for Human Rights ends his mission to Kyiv, Moscow and Simferopol

The Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, has returned from his mission to Kyiv, Moscow and Simferopol, which lasted from 7 to 12 September 2014. The mission of the Commissioner was aimed at fostering the effective enjoyment of human rights and observing the current situation in these areas.

The Commissioner highlighted that the human rights abuses in Crimea since March 2014 have remained unaddressed. On his opinion there has to be an effective investigation into possible violations with the participation of victims and their families. He also has noted that the impunity is incompatible with human rights principles, therefore the ensuring of the accountability for the perpetrators is essential. Concerning Crimean Tatars, there have been frequent intrusive searches affecting them carried out by masked persons with automatic weapons in religious institutions, businesses and private homes. The Commissioner also emphasized that it is essential to dispel the atmosphere of fear and to guarantee the security not only for the Crimean Tatars, but also for ethnic Ukrainians. He also expressed his concern regarding the recent actions targeting the journalists who have expressed critical views of recent political developments. They have been affected by the closure of several Crimean media outlets, warnings, searches of their homes, confiscation of equipment and arbitrary detention.

While in Kyiv, the Commissioner welcomed the signing of a ceasefire agreement, which in his opinion, will improve the human rights situation in the eastern part of Ukraine. He also underlined an urgent need to ensure accountability for human rights abuses in order to speed up the process of the reconciliation.

While in Moscow, the Commissioner welcomed the progress in the reform of the penitentiary system, but expressed concern about the situation of NGOs and human rights defenders. Moreover, he discussed the follow-up to his report on the administration of justice and on non-commercial organizations.

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