New York, NY, November 30, 2015 – In the spring of 2015, an international team of lawyers, with the support and endorsement of the New York University School of Law, prepared a human rights report entitled “Human Rights in Occupied Territory: Case of Crimea,” issued in June 2015 under the auspices of the Ukrainian-American nonprofit organization Razom, Inc. The report analyzes the current human rights situation in Crimea, and provides recommendations on how to address the situation to local and regional governments, international community, civil society and media, and the population of Crimea.
The occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in March 2014 has led to unprecedented number of human rights violations that effectively limit and encroach on individual rights and freedoms. In the uncertain legal environment, the population of Crimea, Ukraine, needs assistance with educating individuals about their rights and about the local and international legal mechanisms and procedures available to them. The report was prepared with these considerations in mind.
To enhance the practical realization of human rights, the legal team also developed a “Guide to Protect Human Rights in Occupied Crimea” as part of the report. It provides some general instructions, as well as specifically details each key human right, its meaning, and possible strategies and venues of protecting it. In June 2015, the legal group of Razom, led by Ivanna Bilych, presented the first edition of the report in Ukraine and Europe, eliciting feedback and distributing the report and the Guide to Crimeans, Ukrainian civil society organizations, and representatives of the Ukrainian government, as well as the members of the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
Since June, Ivanna Bilych and Bohdan Pechenyak, formerly Board members at Razom, joined by several colleagues, decided to focus their efforts on starting a new organization dedicated to generating and promoting intellectual leadership in the fields of civil society, human rights and the rule of law. Thus VOLYA Institute for Contemporary Law and Society was launched in the fall of 2015.
The Board of Razom welcomes and fully supports the efforts of the newly created VOLYA Institute, and looks forward to a fruitful cooperation in the future. “We are very pleased that Razom was able to be a platform to help launch VOLYA Institute. Razom brings together people to design and implement projects that build a prosperous Ukraine. Ivanna Bilych led teams of international lawyers to write two successful reports on the situation in Ukraine. Now, as an independent think tank, VOLYA plays a vital role by articulating important thinking about civil society, rule of law and human rights in Ukraine,” said Dora Chomiak, Razom Board Member.
The second edition of the Crimea human rights report accounts for the feedback received in Ukraine and Europe and will be presented at the United Nations Headquarters on Wednesday, December 9, followed by an official briefing at the U.S. Congress on Friday, December 11, co-sponsored by the U.S. Helsinki Commission. These presentations will be the first formal instance of cooperation between Razom and VOLYA Institute. As the human rights situation in Crimea deteriorates and the conflict with Russian-backed insurgents in Eastern Ukraine lingers, addressing the issues raised in this report remains an urgent task.
Razom is a nonprofit organization that emerged in the United States during the Euromaidan movement with the mission of building democracy and developing civil society in Ukraine. Razom’s activities fall into four general areas: humanitarian assistance, public education, community dialogue, and civil society development. Web: www.razomforukraine.org
VOLYA Institute for Contemporary Law and Society is a newly formed nonprofit organization dedicated to generating and promoting intellectual leadership in the fields of civil society, human rights and the rule of law through rigorous and relevant research that informs scholarship, policy making, advocacy and practice. Organizational activities focus on creating strategic and sustainable solutions to specific societal issues related to Ukraine, in local, regional, and global contexts. Contact: email@example.com
Report and manual can be downloaded HERE.