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Council of Europe (PACE) issues – Ukraine

June 20, 2016

There seems to be a tempest brewing between PACE and the Ukrainian delegation therein.

Thus far, since the annexation of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine, PACE has taken a (perhaps surprisingly) fairly robust line against Russia – the Russian delegation being stripped of its voting rights.

As a result the Russian delegation therefore sees no reason to attend PACE sessions until their voting rights are restored (not that The Kremlin thinks particularly highly of PACE anyway), and their current voting rights ban is set to continue until the year end.

Theoretically the voting rights ban is up for renewal once again in the later part of the year and albeit despite no change in the situation that brought about the current ban in the first place, there is a perceived weakening of resolve.

Further the very recently released annual 104 page report upon Ukraine seems to have absolutely no mention of human rights abuses within either the occupied territories under Kremlin control in the Donbas, nor any mention regarding human rights abuses within the illegally annexed Crimea.

How so when such human rights abuses feature in so many reports by other entities?

If the Ukrainians are to be believed when confronting this omission, the reasons for the absence of any mention is due to the PACE leadership stating that because they were denied entry to the occupied Donbas and illegally annexed Crimea during the reporting period PACE could not and/or would not make any official comment due to lack of official access and monitoring.

COE-Logo-Quadri

“In our opinion, (Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn) Jagland made a terrible and cynical response, he said that the alleged information on the state of human rights in the occupied Crimea and Donbas is not included in the annual report on human rights because no mission was allowed to enter Crimea and Donbas last year, so no information is entered in the report ” – I.Geraschenko (Permanent Member of PACE Delegation Ukraine)

Ho humm!

Should there be any mention in an official report upon human rights if such abuses have not been witnessed and/or monitored by the reporting entity’s observers?

What of witnesses and witness statements?  Could they not be included even if access is denied?  Are there no witnesses during the past year/reporting period?  If there are, is such testimony excluded due to lack of corroboration and thus no official mention made?

There is a distinction between monitoring and witnessing – monitoring does not necessarily require being a witness, but methodological collection, collation and analysis.

If making no mention of human rights abuses whatsoever in the occupied Donbas and Crimea during the last reporting period as the Ukrainians claim, does that also imply that any territory that is subjected to human rights abuses by State or non-State actors that simply refuses to allow access to PACE (or any other institutional monitors reporting to their associated entities) will also garner no human rights abuse ,mention within the text of official reports because observers have not witnessed and assessed the situation on the ground for themselves?

Should there be citation of official reports by other recognised international institutions in the absence of PACE monitoring to at least make mention of the issues – or not?  How easy now for PACE members to condemn human rights abuses within the occupied Donbas or illegally annexed Crimea with no mention of such in the institution’s latest official report?

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