The press release issued by the President of Ukraine on 9 November 2022.
Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak held a video conference meeting with representatives of Ukrainian and international human rights organizations devoted to the issue of ensuring the rights of Ukrainian military and civilian prisoners held by the Russian Federation.
Andriy Yermak emphasized that Russia’s forced detention of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians in inhumane conditions is the most acute human rights issue in Europe since World War II.
“In the XXI century, we lived to the point where there are concentration camps in the center of Europe. I mean not only Olenivka, but also other terrible places,” said the Head of the President’s Office.
He noted that the International Committee of the Red Cross did not agree to delegate its representatives to the mission, which was supposed to go to the delimitation line and demand from Russia access to places of detention of Ukrainian prisoners.
At the suggestion of Andriy Yermak, the meeting participants decided to create an information human rights headquarters, which will regularly publish data on human rights violations during Russian aggression that are important for the global human rights community and the media.
The Head of the Office of the President called on Ukrainian and international human rights organizations to join the work of the headquarters.
It will work continuously and will become a platform for information support of Ukrainian prisoners held by the Russian aggressor.
“We have to put pressure on the Russian Federation from all sides, keep this issue in focus at all international platforms and do everything that depends on us to get information and work on the emergence of an international mission,” emphasized Andriy Yermak.
The Head of the Office of the President also proposed to create an interactive exhibition dedicated to the issue of Ukrainian prisoners held by Russia. According to Andriy Yermak, Ukrainians released from captivity and relatives of prisoners will be able to participate in the exhibition.
“When people see what is happening today, in the XXI century, in the center of Europe, it is better than any political tools,” he said.
Human Rights Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Dmytro Lubinets expressed his belief that the International Committee of the Red Cross has demonstrated its inefficiency and even unwillingness to monitor Russia’s compliance with the norms of humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention.
“As human rights defenders, we must look for new platforms, new mechanisms to cope with this challenge. Therefore, I invite everyone to join this initiative and involve colleagues from all over the world,” said Dmytro Lubinets.
The commissioner also reported that the international community of ombudsmen supports the creation of new missions and platforms where the issues of the rights of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian hostages, as well as deported children, whom Russia continues to take from the temporarily occupied territories, will be raised.
As noted by First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Emine Dzhaparova, joining the efforts of state and non-governmental human rights organizations will make it possible to develop new approaches to protecting the rights of Ukrainian prisoners.
“Only when we join forces can we have a result,” she said.
Head of the board of the Crimean human rights group Olga Skrypnyk also called for attention to the protection of the rights of Ukrainian activists and Crimean Tatars who are subjected to constant repression by the Russian occupiers in Crimea. She supported the initiative to constantly inform the international community about the issues of Ukrainian prisoners held by the aggressor.