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Crimean Precedent. Forced Displacement from Crimea and its Human Rights Aspects

Report “Crimean Precedent. Forced Displacement from Crimea and its Human Rights Aspects”

Following the occupation, and shortly afterwards the annexation of the Crimean peninsula, a part of Ukraine’s territory, by the Russian Federation in 2014, many residents of Crimea[1] left the peninsula for mainland Ukraine and abroad. Many left because of persecution and fear of falling victims of violations of human rights carried out by Russia in Crimea.

This report is dedicated to the problem of forced displacement of persons from Crimea and its human rights aspects. The concept of ‘forced’ or ‘involuntary displacement’[2] in this report covers a variety of notions. It refers to expulsion and other similar instances of direct and forceful removal of the person from a territory. It also encompasses the situation where the person is compelled to leave her habitual place of residence by persecution, risk of or actual violation of her human rights, or the general environment of human rights violations, fear and insecurity created by the oppressive policies and practices of the state. In the latter instance, while the displaced person is not removed from the state’s territory by force or ordered to leave it by a state organ, as with expulsion or forced removal, her choice to leave is not genuine. The state may not intend to drive the person away from its territory but its actions may nevertheless have the consequence of compelling the person to leave the territory under the state’s control. Forced migration is often the result of human rights violations taking place in a state or a territory. At the same time, forced displacement itself may result in violations of human rights of the displaced persons. These human rights aspects of forced migration are examined in the present report.

The report, in Part I, briefly recalls the development in Crimea in 2014 before describing general trends of migration from the occupied peninsula.

Part II looks at the human rights situation in Crimea. It details the repressive actions, policies and practices of the Russian Federation in Crimea that in all likelihood led to forced displacement. The report demonstrates that these actions of the Russian Federation and the de facto authorities in Crimea can be said to amount to a violation of international human rights law. To this effect, the report examines the human rights guarantees enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights as well as in other specialised international instruments such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The interference with human rights of persons displaced from Crimea that have led to involuntary migration as well those that have resulted from the involuntary migration are imputed to the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation is bound by international law to respect its obligations under international human rights treaties in respect of every person within its jurisdiction, which includes the population of Crimea owing to Russia exercising effective control over the Crimea’s territory. The human rights issues addressed in this context include interference with right to private life, freedom from arbitrary detention and prohibition of ill-treatment, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression, religious freedoms, property rights and others. Widely reported practices of ill-treatment and the lack of their effective investigations add to the overall climate of insecurity in Crimea. The reported violations disproportionally affect certain vulnerable groups, such as Crimean Tatars, religious minorities, human rights defenders, and those publicly voicing pro-Ukrainian positions.

Part III discusses the relevant legal concepts related to forced or involuntary displacement before proceeding to the application of the general principles to the situation in Crimea. It demonstrates that the forced displacement of persons from Crimea amounts to a violation of the right to freedom of movement and a number of other human rights guarantees of the displaced person by the Russian Federation.

Read the full report at the link.

[1] The term ‘Crimea’ for the purposes of this report covers the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, unless indicated otherwise.

[2] The terms ‘forced’ and ‘involuntary’ are used interchangeably in this report.

 

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