The Coalition of Ukrainian NGOs that work on defense of persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons in connection with the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and contribute to their release
The occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions by the Russian Federation has led to massive and systematic human rights violations, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Politically motivated persecution of residents of the occupied territories has become a common practice, which was repeatedly noted in the UN General Assembly Resolutions "Situation with Human Rights in the Autonomous republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)" (71/205 dd. December 19, 2016, 72/190 dd. December 19, 2017, 73/263 dd. December 22, 2018, 74/168 dd. December 18, 2019, 75/192 dd. December 16, 2020). In addition, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court concluded that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed in the context of the international armed conflict in Ukraine (including the occupation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions). This was confirmed by the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in her statement on December 11, 2020 on the conclusion of the preliminary examination in the situation in Ukraine.
Politically motivated trials of Ukrainian citizens within the armed conflict take place in the Ukrainian territories occupied by the Russian Federation or in the territory of the Russian Federation; as a result, the victims of such persecution are deprived of their personal liberty both in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas, and in the Russian Federation. Representatives of the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation, the occupation authorities of the Russian Federation in the occupied territories and the so-called "DPR" and "LPR", bodies and structures that carry out effective control - use torture, psychological pressure, falsification of evidence and other illegal methods of investigation. Victims are deprived of the right to effective protection, and trials do not meet the standards of fair justice. In the occupied Crimea, politically motivated trials are held on the basis of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which Russia has spread on the peninsula in violation of international humanitarian law (hereinafter - IHL). Similarly, ignoring the norms of IHL, the Russian Federation applies the practice of considering cases of civilians by military courts. Moreover, in order to prosecute activists, the Russian Federation also violates the principle of prohibition of retrospective application of criminal legislation and prosecutes for "crimes" that were not considered criminal offense before the occupation and the spread of russian laws to the occupied territory.
During the period of occupation, a number of NGOs have been constantly working to protect persons who have been deprived of their liberty as a result of politically motivated persecution, providing them with legal and humanitarian assistance, supporting their families, collecting evidence of violations of fundamental rights during such processes. In order to consolidate their efforts and joint advocacy, these organizations united in the Coalition of Ukrainian NGOs that work on defense of persons deprived of liberty for political reasons as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and contribute to their release (short title - Coalition for Defense of Prisoners of the Kremlin; hereinafter - the Coalition).
The Coalition members, in their activities and in the development of criteria for inclusion of cases of persons deprived of liberty for political reasons in the occupied territories and in the Russian Federation to the list of the Coalition, are guided by the main documents in the field of International Human Rights Law (the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court) and international standards in the field of protection of political prisoners (Resolution No. 1900 (2012) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe "The definition of political prisoners", Resolution of the Council of Europe on Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and the situation in Crimea (2017), UN General Assembly resolutions "Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)", etc.). The Coalition members also take into account the experience of international organizations working in the field of defense of political prisoners (Amnesty International, Memorial, etc.).
The activities of the Coalition are focused on advocacy, release and protection of persons deprived of liberty for political reasons in the context of the international armed conflict in Ukraine. The main criteria for the Coalition to add people to the list of persons deprived of liberty for political reasons in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine are the criteria defined by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, namely:
Thus, citizens of Ukraine and persons legally staying in the territory of Ukraine, subject to the presence of one or a combination of these criteria, may be included in the list of persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine.
The Coalition members pay a special attention to the following signs:
A person cannot be recognized as a person deprived of liberty for political reasons in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine if there is reliable and sufficient evidence or reasoned grounds to believe that:
Taking into account that existing and possible future persecutions which have signs of being politically motivated may have different legal and non-legal grounds, as well as be carried out through different types of persecution, the decision to assign specific cases to persons deprived of their liberty for political reasons in connection with the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine is made on the basis of additional detailed criteria.