Ban speaks to Ukrainian leader, UN rights experts horrified by violence in Kiev

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/M. Garten (file photo)

21 February 2014 – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke today with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, urging him to implement a just-proposed deal with opposition leaders aimed at ending a standoff between security forces and protestors in Kiev and other parts of the country that has left scores of people killed or injured.

According to press reports, the deal, brokered overnight, calls for the formation of a new coalition government and for early elections.

In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban also welcomed the signing into law of the resolution passed by Parliament yesterday, which has led to the pullback by police from the centre of Kiev.

These developments and subsequent constructive efforts, he hopes, will lead to a definitive end to the crisis and open the way for a genuine process of reform, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system today joined senior officials in calling for an immediate end to the clashes, and urged an independent probe into the actions of the security forces.

We are horrified by what has been happening in Kiev, said Chaloka Beyani, who currently heads the Coordination Committee of international experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. Violence must stop now.

We strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the security forces against the protestors, he continued, urging authorities to provide information about several cases of enforced disappearances of protestors since late November 2013. Similarly, we condemn the alleged repeated targeting by the security forces of media personnel who report on the protests, and urge the forces to respect and facilitate their work.

The group also condemned violence perpetrated by some protestors, urging the security forces to differentiate between peaceful protestors and violent elements in their handling of the situation.

Respect for the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, as guaranteed under international human rights law, is absolutely essential, he underscored.

Mr. Ban, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and UNESCO chief Irina Bokova have repeatedly urged restraint and called for a peaceful solution to the ongoing crisis.

Despite calls for action, the country is reeling from days of intense violence, centred around the crisis-battered capital, Kiev, where the UN Human Rights Office rights said the situation took a turn for the worse on Tuesday when protesters marched on Government buildings, sparking violence that left at least 22 people dead amid smouldering debris.

The group of international human rights experts stressed that those responsible for ordering and perpetrating arbitrary killings, enforced disappearances, acts of torture and other human rights violations are accountable for their actions under national and international law.

Independent UN experts will continue to follow the situation closely and take any action as necessary, Mr. Beyani noted.

He also expressed their support for any initiatives to ensure the protection of human rights and to engage constructively with all parties.

In line with the standing invitation extended by Ukraine to special procedures, we call on the Government to facilitate their visit to the country, the expert added.

Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.


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