Back Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, 2 years on: our common struggle in defence of Ukrainian people’s human rights

Russia’s full-scale attack on Ukraine, 2 years on: our common struggle in defence of Ukrainian people’s human rights

Tomorrow marks two years since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and two years of immense suffering for the Ukrainian people. The war rages on, and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continue to be committed. Each new day brings more compelling evidence of Russia’s blatant disregard for human life and dignity.

The war has severely affected the enjoyment of virtually all human rights by people in Ukraine. Its devastating effects were already evident when, in the earliest days of the invasion, my team and I visited countries bordering Ukraine and heard the horrifying testimonies of people fleeing the hostilities. Later, during my visits to Kyiv and the areas which have been amongst those most affected by the war, I witnessed with my own eyes the staggering scale of violence, destruction, and dire human suffering. Thousands of Ukrainian children have been transferred to Russia and to territories of Ukraine under Russian occupation. While several hundred children have been reunited with their loved ones in Ukraine, thousands more, vulnerable and often powerless, are being illegally prevented from returning home.

This year also marks 10 years since Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. This illegal act has had a serious human rights impact on the inhabitants of the peninsula, including by setting in motion a tragic cascade of events and measures characterised by grave and repeated violations of the human rights of Crimean Tatars.

It is crucial that Council of Europe member states continue to address the human rights consequences of the war, both collectively and individually. Victims must continue to be supported and provided with adequate redress. Every effort must be made to hold accountable those responsible for all human rights violations and crimes committed in this war. This is necessary to respect the memory of all the victims and to honour the dignity of all the survivors.

I stand firmly in solidarity with the courageous and resilient people of Ukraine as they defend their human rights and freedoms. Their struggle is also our common struggle in defence of human rights. Their resilience stands as a testament to the invincible spirit of freedom.

Strasbourg 23/02/2024
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