UN Investigates Human Rights Violations Regarding Water Crisis in Crimea

Crimean Tatars
Canan Sarıtepe
31 May 2021, 16:52
Canan Sarıtepe
31 May 2021, 16:52

The Association of Reintegration of Crimea (ARC) provided a document for consideration to UN Special Rapporteur on Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Mr Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, for his report on climate change to be presented at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

The ARC said that its submission highlighted the situation regarding the ongoing water crisis and related oppressions of human rights in Crimea, including peaceful assembly and association. 

"It deals with the issues of ineffective humanitarian, financial, industrial, environmental and social policy of Russia’s de-facto 'authorities' in Crimea that caused the water crisis which aggravates from 2020 in Ukrainian region," the Association wrote in a statement published on Monday.

According to ARC, climate justice activism, including the peaceful assemblies and associations, is impossible in today's Crimea. Because Russian occupation authorities ban and punish any civil activity on the peninsula, that is not controlled by them.

"Such 'authorities' banned the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar People in 2016. And since 2014, they punished hundreds of persons who tried to hold the meetings, including the meetings against the water policy in Crimea in 2020. Crimean residents tried to collect signatures against the ill management of de-facto 'authorities' in 2020 in Simferopol, and against the construction of water desalination station in Yalta. The organisers of those signature collections were fined illegally," the ARC said.

Association added that the restriction of civil activism in Crimea includes; a total ban on the meetings and NGOs, the illegal fines against its participants and organisers and the oppressions the civil activists and bloggers, who highlight the climate changes and water crisis issues, including arrests, raids and criminal proceedings. 

In 2020, Russian occupation police raided civic activist Ludvika Papadopulu's flat in Yalta, for her publications on human rights and the environment. In 2021 Russia’s de-facto “authorities” proclaimed the criminal proceeding on “international terrorism” and “extremism” charges against some Ukrainian activists and bloggers, including members of ARC who reflected the negative impact of Russia’s policy on the water crisis in Crimea.

"Also, we reminded the Rapporteur that indigenous Crimean Tatar people have their representative body, Mejlis, in Crimea with a system of local governmental bodies. They all were banned by Russia’s de-facto “authorities” in 2016 as “extremist structures.” Now, these indigenous people have no practical possibility to make any influence on Russia’s industrial, social and military policy that caused the water crisis in Crimea in the climate change situation," the ARC added. 

The Association stressed its belief that special research on civil and ecological rights to water and sanitation in situations such as climate change, armed conflict and related “grey zones” like Crimea, conducting by the UN Special Rapporteur, might be a starting point for improvement.

"We invited the Special Rapporteur to Ukraine and Crimea. That will contribute to the collection of information, and allow the Rapporteur to make a first-hand impression of the situation in the region. Also, we recommended in the submission to UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine to monitor more actively the issues of the water crisis in Crimea and human rights violations of Russia’s de-facto “authorities” regarding this issue," the statement emphasised.

Association’s submission on the water crisis issues was already elaborated by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, and by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment in 2021. The relevant reports of Rapporteurs were presented to the UN Human Rights Council.

The 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) is scheduled to open on 14 September 2021.