Ukraine conflict

Torture is unacceptable, says Steffen Seibert

The German government is concerned at reports compiled by Ukrainian human rights organisations, which point to torture on a hitherto unknown scale in parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Parties to the conflict must put a stop to the process of brutalisation, declared federal government spokesperson.

Federal government spokesperson, State Secretary Steffen Seibert

The German government is following media reports of alleged torture extemely closely, said Steffen Seibert

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

The German government has very carefully noted the media reports of alleged torture, stated government spokesperson Steffen Seibert in Berlin. This also applies to the reports of Marieluise Beck (member of the German Bundestag), Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on "Legal remedies to human rights violations on the Ukrainian territories outside the control of the Ukrainian authorities".

End the process of brutalisation

The accusations levelled against the parties to the conflict must be taken very seriously indeed, said Steffen Seibert. "We are of the firm opinion that the fate of every single one of these individuals must be investigated, and that the guilty parties must be held to account." The parties to the conflict are called on "to end the process of brutalisation in the conflict-affected area, which is reflected in these reports".

Russia in particular is called on to bring to bear its influence on the separatist groups in eastern Ukraine - "to foster moderation and restraint".

Federal Foreign Office spokesperson Martin Schäfer added that the German side was surprised to read the figures quoted. The scale of human rights violations is, in the final analysis, the result of the conditions in the Donbas, which are akin to civil war. The people in charge do not respect law and order "as we would expect, and as we take for granted here".

Political progress must be made

The cases of abduction and torture outlined confirm the conviction of the German government "that it is absolutely vital to make progress on implementing the Minsk agreements". This applies, in particular, to the ceasefire, but also to political negotiations. Negotiations have been stalled for months, said Steffen Seibert. "Progress is minimal. We do see a little progress every so often, but we must at last begin to move forward effectively."

Putting in place a secure environment for local elections

The reports demonstrate that security is needed, and that there must be an effective ceasefire in eastern Ukraine before local elections can be held at all. "That is why this is one of the main demands in the implementation of the Minsk package of measures."

Federal Foreign Office spokesperson Martin Schäfer added that this is why, at its last meeting, the Normandy group asked the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) to draw up appropriate security concepts for the separatist-controlled areas. The meeting also looked at the form local election legislation could take in order to comply with European democratic and rule-of-law standards.

This involves giving people the opportunity to make use of their active and passive right to vote, and to ensure that the election campaign can take place within a secure environment. This is not yet the case; this is what we have been trying to achieve for months, announced Martin Schäfer.

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