This statement was drafted by me and my colleagues at the Center for Civil Liberties. I thank the Forum participants for their support of our initiative.

Address of the participants of the roundtable “Deprivation of freedom: war prisoners, civic hostages, abductions and deportations”, held on November 16, 2022 as part of the Fourth International Forum on European Ukraine.

Coordinator: Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)

For 8 years and 9 months Ukraine has been suffering from the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation! For 8 years and 9 months Ukraine has been living in terrible realities, when the aggressor-state Russia has devalued human lives and fates of millions of people!

Today we focus on two main violations by Russian troops and authorities:

1) Violation of the III Geneva Convention regarding seriously wounded prisoners of war!

According to the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, in accordance with Part IV “Termination of Captivity”, Section I “DIRECT REPATRIATION AND ACCOMMODATION IN NEUTRAL COUNTRIES”, Article 109: “Subject to the provisions of the third paragraph of this Article, Parties to the conflict are bound to send back to their own country, regardless of number or rank, seriously wounded and seriously sick prisoners of war, after having cared for them until they are fit to travel, in accordance with the first paragraph of the following Article. Throughout the duration of hostilities, Parties to the conflict shall endeavour, with the co-operation of the neutral Powers concerned, to make arrangements for the accommodation in neutral countries of the sick and wounded prisoners of war referred to in the second paragraph of the following Article. They may, in addition, conclude agreements with a view to the direct repatriation or internment in a neutral country of ablebodied prisoners of war who have undergone a long period of captivity. No sick or injured prisoner of war who is eligible for repatriation under the first paragraph of this Article, may be repatriated against his will during hostilities.

We demand from the Russian authorities to stop the blatant violations and to comply with the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian Law!

We demand from the Russian authorities to immediately release and return to Ukraine seriously wounded Ukrainian prisoners of war! 

2) Arbitrary detention and enforced abduction of civilians, their imprisonment, detention in places of captivity.

Authorized officials of the military police of Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation comment the legal status of civilian Ukrainians that these people are detained “for opposing the special military operation”. The same reason is given in the answers about the legal status of Ukrainian prisoners of war. International humanitarian law allows detention, arrest and deportation for actions related to armed conflict. However, paragraph 3 of Article 75 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1) stipulates that “Any person arrested, detained or interned for actions related to the armed conflict shall be informed promptly, in a language he understands, of the reasons why these measures have been taken. Except in cases of arrest or detention for penal offenses, such persons shall be released with the minimum delay possible and in any event as soon as the circumstances justifying the arrest, detention or internment have ceased to exist.”

This norm should be interpreted in only one way: after the cessation of hostilities in the territory where people lived before detention, arrest or internment, they must be released by the occupying power. In accordance with the norms of Protocol 1, a significant part of Ukrainian civilians who are detained should have already been released.

We demand from the Russian authorities to IMMEDIATELY return to their homes all civilians detained as a result of Russian aggression, alive and unharmed!

Berlin November 16, 2022

Photo: My speech (online) at the Berlin Forum on November 16, 2022