On 28 February 2017 in the Geneva Palace of Nations in the framework of the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council a Ministerial Side-event on human rights situation in Crimea was held.
The main panelists of the event were Mr. Pavlo Klimkin, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Mr. Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Mr. Linas Linkevičius, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Mr. Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms. Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Iryna Gerashchenko, First Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Mr. Refat Chubarov, Chairman of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatars, Ms. Emine Dzhepparova, First Deputy Minister for Information Policy of Ukraine; over 70 representatives of the UN member states and several international NGOs have attended the event.
The speakers who represented the Ukrainian side informed the participants about the real situation on human rights in Crimea, including the repressions of the Crimean Tatar community by the occupation authorities, illegal cases against the leaders of the Mejlis, pressure and harassment of lawyers, illegal arrests, displacement of the citizens of Ukraine, in particular Crimean Tatars, who are held in custody or convicted, outside of the occupied Crimea, including to the territory of Russia, use of torture towards them, forced imposition of citizenship etc.
The Foreign Ministers of Latvia and Lithuania, recalling occupation of their countries by the Soviet Union, noted that they would never recognize the legitimacy of the annexation of Crimea, just like a number of states, which at that time hadn’t recognized the occupation of Latvia and Lithuania. The representatives of international organizations, in particular Secretary General of the Council of Europe T. Jagland and UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights K. Gilmore stressed the need for providing further steps in order to secure the international human rights monitoring of the peninsula. During the discussion the delegations of around 10 countries also took the floor.
The event has demonstrated international solidarity with Ukraine: all speakers with no exception expressed support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine; condemned Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea; expressed indignation with Russia’s denied access to the territory of the peninsula for the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, journalists and human rights defenders; emphasized that the real improvement of human rights situation in the occupied Crimea will be achieved only through its de-occupation.