During the last PACE Autumn session (30-4 October, 2019), together with the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) and the Italian Federation for Human Rights (FIDU) we had the pleasure to host: Oleg Sentsov, Ukrainian filmmaker recently released from Russian custody; Kazakhstani human rights defenders Bota Jardemalie and Daniyar Khassenov, and representatives of the Turkish NGO Arrested Lawyers Initiative (ALI). Our side event on Thursday 3 October was sponsored by MPs Frank Schwabe (Germany; SOC), Roberto Rampi (Italy; SOC) and Martin Poliačik (Slovakia; ALDE) and it tackled the effectiveness of international human rights mechanisms considering the challenges posed by non-democratic states.
During the side event and bilateral meetings, including with PACE President Liliane Maury Pasquier and Permanent Representatives to the Council of Europe, we underlined how Russia, Turkey and Kazakhstan disregard international organisations such as the UN, the ECHR or the EU. Institutions, like the ECHR, have de facto lost their preventive role in protecting the citizens’ rights in non-democratic countries. Opinions or resolutions by the EU or the UN are being systematically ignored, thus allowing authoritarian governments to pursue anti-human rights policies. For example, Turkey is one of the leading countries, together with Russia, under enhanced supervision for non-implementation of ECHR rulings. Similarly, the Kazakhstani government has not yet implemented 25 out of 30 UN recommendations on grave cases of human rights violations, including the one concerning the urgent release of three Kazakhstani political prisoners: Iskander Yerimbetov, Mukhtar Dzhakishev and Max Bokayev.
On 1 October, Oleg Sentsov, Lyudmyla Kozlovska of ODF and Oleksandra Romantsova of CCL were received by President Emmanuel Macron at the premises of the French Permanent Representation to the Council of Europe. Using this opportunity, we informed the President about the 86 cases of Ukrainian political prisoners still kept in Russia and on the territory of occupied Crimea, as well as of the 227 remaining hostages in the occupied Donbas.
The next day the delegation took part in a press conference on the topic of Ukrainian prisoners of the Kremlin, addressing the question of how to release them all. The event was hosted by PACE MPs Martin Poliačik and Roberto Rampi. French and foreign media raised numerous questions about the release of these Ukrainian prisoners as well as the delegation’s views on the so-called Steinmeier formula and elections in the occupied territories of Ukraine’s Donbas. We also briefed members of the EPP and ALDE political groups on the same day.
We are particularly grateful to PACE MPs Frank Schwabe, Roberto Rampi and Martin Poliačik and all the other MPs who have supported the two written declarations “The Russian Federation Must Release All Ukrainian political prisoners” and “The International Community Must Respond to Mass Arrests and Political Prosecution in Kazakhstan”. In both written declarations, lawmakers called upon the international community to apply sanctions on those Russian state officials and their collaborators responsible for gross human rights violations, as well as on the Kazakhstani authorities who arrested thousands of peaceful protesters and sentenced 21 prisoners on political charges.
Watch the video recording of the events:
- Press conference: Ukrainian Prisoners of the Kremlin: How to Release Them All?
- Side event: Challenges for International Human Rights Mechanisms
- Our first meeting with Oleg Sentsov
- Oleg Sentsov greets and thanks the Poles
- Bundestag event and meetings in Berlin with Oleg Sentsov, CCL & FIDU
- The coverage of Emmanuel Macron’s meeting with ODF President and Oleg Sentsov in the French and international media
- PACE written declaration: “The Russian Federation Must Release All Ukrainian political prisoners”
- PACE written declaration: “The International Community Must Respond to Mass Arrests and Political Prosecution in Kazakhstan”
- ODF’s report: List of Kazakhstani political prisoners and other politically prosecuted persons (03.10.2019)
- ODF and The Arrested Lawyers Initiative (ALI) joint submission for Turkey’s UPR
French and international media press coverage: