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Russia/Ukraine: human rights laws must be respected as 'potential for full-blown conflict now a devastating reality'

Responding to news that President Vladimir Putin has ordered “peacekeeping operations” to the so called “Donetsk People’s Republic” and “Luhansk People’s Republic” in eastern Ukraine, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, said:

“After weeks of fruitless negotiations, the protection of civilians in Ukraine must now be the absolute priority.

“While the potential for full-blown conflict is now a devastating reality, every effort must be made to minimise civilian suffering and prioritise humanity in this crisis. It is a legal obligation of all parties to do so.

“We urge all parties to adhere strictly to international humanitarian and human rights law. They must ensure the protection of civilian lives and refrain from indiscriminate attacks and the use of prohibited weapons such as cluster munitions. We also call on all parties to allow and facilitate access of humanitarian agencies to provide assistance to civilians affected by hostilities.

“Amnesty International will be monitoring the situation closely to expose violations of international law by all parties.”

Background

Amnesty International has previously warned of the devastating human rights risks of further armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including threats to civilian lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, and potential acute food shortages and mass displacement. The organisation has documented the severe human rights toll of the 2014-2015 conflict in eastern Ukraine, in which war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed.

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