Ukraine: senior UN official decry use of excessive force as protests intensify

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. UN Photo/E. Debebe/E. Schneider (file photo)

20 February 2014 – As the casualties mount in and around crisis-riven Kiev, so have the calls for restraint from senior United Nations officials, who today once again urged the authorities in Ukraine to exercise restraint amidst a fiery stand-off with anti-Government protestors.

“I continue to strongly appeal to all involved to cease the violence, and for the Ukrainian authorities to refrain from excessive use of force,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

“I am appalled by the use of firearms by both the police and protesters,” stressed Mr. Ban, who has been in contact with President Viktor Yanukovych. “I urge all parties to immediately resume a genuine dialogue.”

Mr. Ban has offered to send a mediator to promote dialogue, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, who told UN Radio that she has also offered “all the knowledge, skills and tools” of her Office to help.

“I think the situation is serious and warrants immediate attention to restoring peace,” she said.

The UN’s highest official on human rights matters said she readily acknowledges the challenges that the Government is facing, including violence from protestors, which has resulted in the deaths of police officer and at least 70 others injured.

“On the other hand, 47 journalists were injured and all evidence points to that being perpetrated by law enforcement officials,” she said.

The situation remains fluid in Kiev and other cities where protests have been reported, with Ms. Pillay stressing that “sometimes it is difficult to obtain impartial investigations from parties involved.”

She urged authorities to investigate cases of deaths, disappearances and human rights violations, and to place human rights at the centre of any solutions.

“I’m not as yet calling for an independent investigation, but I am offering to assist the authorities in Ukraine to conduct impartial investigations by drawing attention to the standards set by the international community for what constitutes an impartial [inquiry],” she noted.

Meanwhile, there are reports of children being caught up and even injured in the violence in Kyiv, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The UN agency is seeking to confirm those reports and is closely monitoring the situation.


News Tracker: past stories on this issue

Ukraine: top UN officials urge peaceful resolution of crisis after deadly clashes in Kiev

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