European human rights court will review a complaint on the illegal detention of a Crimean journalist Iryna Danylovych

Дата: 21 June 2023
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The European Court of Human Rights took into consideration a complaint submitted by lawyers this January from a Ukrainian human rights group Crimea SOS about the illegal detention and persecution by Russian occupying authorities of a civic journalist Iryna Danylovych from Feodosiya in the Eastern part of the Crimean peninsula.

In late April of last year, officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) kidnapped Danylovych and kept her in the basement of the FSB without any status or legal assistance for almost ten days.

Human rights organization Crimea SOS cites Danylovych’s lawyer Sergii Zaiets who believes that “important for those suffering from Russian repression.”

Iryna Danylovych. Photo: Crimean Process

According to the lawyer, the Russians detained the civic journalist without any registration of this fact. The woman was kept and tortured in the basement of the local FSB unit in Simferopol, a center of occupied Crimea. For almost ten days, Danylovych’s family did not know about her whereabouts, and she did not have any access to a lawyer.

'Such treatment of Danylovych is a violation of fundamental human rights. Still, the Russian occupying forces tried to deny the fact of the violation, claiming that Iryna was in the FSB basement voluntarily, of her own free will.'

Sergii Zaiets

In January 2023, human rights defenders from Crimea SOS prepared and submitted a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, also known as the Strasbourg Court. Lawyers state that a number of Danylovych’s fundamental rights, coded in the European Convention on Human Rights, were violated by Russia.   

Namely, Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees “the right to liberty and security” for a person. 

“The fact that Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe does not mean that we should fold our hands. The struggle is important for those who suffer from Russian repression. Although this appeal will not affect Iryna’s situation for now, the struggle is important to increase international pressure, and sooner or later, Russia will be forced to respond,” the lawyer added.

A lawyer Sergii Zaiets

Since September 2022, the Russian Federation ceased to be the party of the Council of Europe and the Convention due to its unlawful aggression against Ukraine. 

Iryna Danylovych was a nurse and a civic journalist from Feodosiia. Over the last several years, Danylovych collaborated with several independent Crimean human rights initiatives such as INzhyr Media and a human rights project, Crimean Process. Danylovych covered corruption and violations in the sphere of public health, such as the underpayment to medical professionals for work with sick patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last year, FSB officers kidnapped Danylovych on April 29 and kept her in the basement of the FSB until May 7 without any status or legal assistance. She was continuously interrogated, abused, and threatened to be starved, taken to the forest, or to the frontline city under siege in Ukraine, such as Mariupol. On May 7 of last year, the so-called “Kyiv District Court” of Simferopol took Danylovych into custody for a period of two months since the Russian occupying authorities allegedly found explosives in her glasses case.

Later, she provided a detailed account of the circumstances of her illegal detention during one of the court hearings in Feodosiia. The journalist stated that FSB officers continued to put pressure on her in the Simferopol pre-trial detention center. In particular, she was injured before the court hearing in July of last year.

Despite the indignation from the international community, the so-called “Feodosian City Court” announced the sentence to a civic journalist Iryna Danylovych. She was sentenced to seven years in prison and fined 50,000 rubles for allegedly “storing explosives.”

Since her illegal detention, Danylovych has suffered from strong headaches and suspects having severe inflammation of the middle and inner left ear. Russian occupying forces failed to provide her with proper medical care.

Human rights defenders believe that the non-provision of medical aid to a person in critical condition is a form of torture and inhumane treatment, categorically prohibited by international law. 

Recently, Danylovych stated that officials in Simferopol pre-trial detention center No. 1, where she is currently kept, silence those who seek to protect their rights. According to her, officials ignore the appeal of the person, and his complaints to the authorities to which the pre-trial detention center is subordinate are destroyed.

According to the Mission of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, at least 181 individuals are held in custody or imprisoned on the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea or Russia.  

Based on assessments of a human rights organization Crimea SOS, 35% of political prisoners from Crimea charged with politically motivated grounds became imprisoned after Russia’s full-scale invasion. Most of them are people who were accused of alleged involvement in the Islamic political organization Hizb ut-Tahrir or the volunteer Crimean Tatar battalion named after Noman Çelebicihan.

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