Human Rights Watch: Ukraine's use of force beyond what is 'absolutely necessary'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stressed the need to restore the Ukrainian border and for separatists to peacefully lay down their arms.
By Aileen Graef  |  June 9, 2014 at 5:03 PM
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DONETSK, Ukraine, June 9 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch sent a letter to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko Friday asking that he de-escalate government forces in eastern Ukraine, claiming the country has gone beyond what is "absolutely necessary" to defeat the separatists in the region.

The government in Kiev has been running an "anti-terror operation" in the region to crush the pro-Russian separatist movement that has been ripping the country apart. Human Rights Watch investigated the fallout from the fighting in the area and said there are concerns about whether the government has been disproportionately assaulting the pro-Russian insurgents. They claimed that mortar shelling has destroyed or damaged hospitals and dozens of homes.

"Human Rights Watch recognizes that the actions of the insurgents violate Ukrainian law and that the Ukrainian government is entitled to carry out law enforcement and military operations to counter the armed insurrection. We also recognize that the actions of the insurgents, operating in a populated residential area, setting up roadblocks in residential areas, and moving in, around, or near to hospital grounds may endanger residents, patients, and healthcare workers at such facilities," Hugh Williamson, director of the Europe and Central Asia Division, said in the letter.

They reminded Ukraine that under Article two of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Ukraine cannot use any force more than "absolutely necessary" for the purpose of "quelling a riot or insurrection."

He also asked that Kiev ensure that "Ukrainian forces are fully aware of all their obligations under international law and that the use of lethal force that may result in the death or injury of civilians or may cause unjustified harm to civilian property and infrastructure is strictly justified under international law."

Though Poroshenko has called for peace, many of the separatists have dismissed his notion, saying they will never surrender.

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