OHCHR report: Militants establish their courts to legitimize human rights abuses by illegal armed groups
So-called “administration of justice” structures in the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” have been established to impose the authority of the armed groups over the population and legitimize human rights abuses by illegal armed groups.
This is stated in the 14th report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, covering the period from 16 February to 15 May 2016.
The report’s authors note that such structures contravene the spirit of the Minsk Agreements.
On 6 April 2016, the ‘supreme court’ of ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ reported that, from the beginning of 2016, ‘courts of general jurisdiction’ had ‘considered’ 3,318 criminal cases, including 11 pre-conflict cases.
It is reported that the ‘courts’ had reportedly delivered ‘decisions’ in 461 cases, including two convictions regarding seven preconflict detainees.
As noted, in 2015, the ‘courts’ had reportedly ‘considered’ 18,678 criminal cases and delivered decisions in 1,935 cases, including in 60 cases initiated before the conflict.
“OHCHR has not been able to verify that the ‘judicial system’ of ‘Donetsk people’s republic’ and ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ meets the key due process and fair trial standards in particular in relation to the non-derogable writ of habeas corpus,” the report says.
The UN reminds that in the context of an armed conflict, only an impartial and regularly constituted court may pass judgment on an accused person.
Unfair trials cannot provide justice to victims of serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, and further contribute to the lack of rule of law and accountability that has come to characterize the armed group-controlled areas, the OHCHR stresses.
The report also notes that human rights of people in high-security prisons are further violated in the territory of Donetsk region controlled by the illegal armed groups.