Over the past weeks, tension have been building up around the on-going military conflict in Ukraine, which already has resulted in the displacement of around 1,5 million people and the deaths of an estimated 15 000 soldiers and civilians. Reports say that Russia has gathered more than 100,000 soldiers near the border, as well as moving military hardware increasingly closer. Ukraine is preparing for a possible large-scale attack, and the security situation in Europe has not been so dramatic since the end of the Cold War.
In cooperation with our Ukrainian and Russian partners, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) follows the situation closely and will do what we can to prevent violations of humanitarian law and human rights that likely will follow a new phase in the war in Ukraine.
In Ukraine, the NHC has a particular focus on violations of humanitarian law and the Helsinki agreement, as a consequence of the international armed conflict that started in 2014, with the Russian occupation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine. The aim of the NHC is to promote transitional justice, accountability, and the preservation of a factual historical record. We also continue to monitor and promote human rights in Ukraine in general, including the rights of the LGBT+ community.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) has worked in Ukraine since 1994, at first mainly with election observation and human rights schools. After the orange revolution in 2004, we have cooperated with some of the main human rights groups in Ukraine, eventually also with LGBT+ organizations.
Read more about Ukraine here.
With the Maidan revolution, and the start of the armed conflict in Ukraine, NHC stepped up activities related to documentation of war crimes and other grave human rights violations, and international justice in Ukraine. We have also participated in international fact-finding missions to Donbass, and presented our findings to the International Criminal Court.
With the NHC’s core support, our main local partner the organisation Truth Hounds in cooperation with NHC-partner CILRAP’s department Case Matrix Network (CMN), has created a digital tool to analyse documentation of violations of international law and human rights in 2017, in order to facilitate accountability and transitional justice, and to preserve a factual historical record of the armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the occupation of Crimea.
The NHC has been involved in the creation and customization of the Truth Hounds’ digital database (I–DOC) for Ukraine. NHC provides legal as well administrative consultations to the Truth Hounds, and two members of the NHC’s analytical team analyse, register, and monitor all registrations of collected materials/evidence in the database. Our aim is to collect materials that have sufficient evidentiary standard to be used in criminal court proceedings and other accountability processes.
In addition, in 2020 and 2021 an I–DOC Database was developed for the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, as the Ukrainian justice authorities recognized the usefulness of our tool. The CMN and the NHC continue to provide technical and professional support to the Prosecutor’s Office, advising them about the possibilities of building international criminal cases through the functions of the Database.