Statement on enforced disappearance of Iryna Danilovych in occupied Crimea

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On April 29, 2022, activist and citizen journalist Iryna Danilovych went missing in the occupied Crimea while returning home from work. On the same day, Russian security forces searched Iryna’s house in the village of Vladyslavivka near Feodosia, where she lived with her parents, and seized her phone and equipment.

The representatives of the occupying power showed a search warrant but did not give Iryna’s parents a copy of the document. In addition, security officers did not inform them of the daughter’s whereabouts, only stating that she was allegedly arrested for 10 days for passing some “non-confidential information” to a non-governmental organization. As of May 7, the ninth day after she went missing, it is known nothing about where Iryna Danylovich stays and in what status.

The law enforcement agencies of the occupying power do not take effective measures to search for Iryna Danilovych. Iryna’s father and lawyer filed a report on the abduction with several agencies in Crimea but received no response. In addition, there is information that a video capturing the moment of Iryna being abducted appeared, but Russian law enforcement agencies for a long time refused to attach this video to the case file and provide her father with a copy.

The abduction of Iryna Danilovych has signs of enforced disappearance under the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. During the search, Russian security officers informed Iryna’s parents about her arrest, but for nine days in a row they have not provided information about her whereabouts, charges brought against her, and the place and time of possible court hearings in her trial. In addition, the detainee does not have access to a lawyer, as a result of which she is deprived of legal aid.

Iryna Danilovych worked as a nurse. She was also a citizen journalist, covered the problems of the health care system in Crimea and disseminated information about the war in Ukraine. Before the war, Danilovych cooperated with several media and human rights initiatives (InZhyr-Media, Crimean Trial) and ran her own project, Crimean Medicine Unwrapped, speaking about the rights of health professionals. Danilovych also took an active part in the trade union movement and headed the Crimean branch of the Alliance of Physicians. Hence, Danilovych was subjected to administrative pressure and was fired from the substance misuse department of the Feodosia Medical Association. She was threatened with a lawsuit because of her trade union activities.

As a reminder, the Russian Federation has imprisoned 13 Crimean journalists. These are Crimean Tatar citizen journalists Osman Arifmetemetov, Marlen Asanov, Asan Akhtemov, Remzi Bekirov, Tymur Ibrahimov, Server Mustafayev, Seyran Saliyev, Ruslan Suleymanov, Rustem Sheikhaliyev, and Amet Suleymanov, as well as journalists Oleksiy Bessarabov, Vladyslav Yesypenko, and Nariman Dzhelyal. Dzhelyal is the First Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a former journalist.

While the main attention of the international community is focused on the mass atrocities of Russian troops on mainland Ukraine, the reprisals pursued by the Russian occupying power in Crimea remain virtually unnoticed. Arbitrary searches, arrests, torture in places of detention, sentences in politically motivated criminal cases and other gross human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to be committed on the occupied peninsula.

The abduction of Iryna Danilovych in Crimea amid large-scale enforced disappearances in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, and other occupied regions of Ukraine testifies to a real threat to life, health, and freedom of civil society activists, human rights defenders, and other people in all territories temporarily controlled by Russian-occupation forces. In 2014-2021, according to CrimeaSOS data, 44 people became victims of enforced disappearances in the occupied Crimea, the fate and whereabouts of 15 of them are still unknown.

In view of the above, we call on the international community, including UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe Steering Committee on Media and Information Society, PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, PACE General Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, representatives of the EU, European External Action Service, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe, and International Committee of the Red Cross, within all their possible powers and mandates to:

  1. Demand that the Russian Federation urgently determine the whereabouts and release Irina Danilovych and all other victims of enforced disappearances in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
  2. Assist the Government of Ukraine in finding and investigating cases of enforced disappearances in the occupied territories.
  3. Provide comprehensive support to victims of enforced disappearances, their relatives, as well as victims of other gross human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
  4. Continue to monitor and document human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in the occupied Crimea and include their regular reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine.

We call on the governments of foreign countries to:

  1. Increase diplomatic, sanctions, and other pressure on the Russian Federation to accelerate the de-occupation of Crimea, Donbas, and all other territories of Ukraine.
  2. Impose personal sanctions on Russian officials and employees of the occupation administration involved in enforced disappearances and other gross human rights violations in all occupied territories of Ukraine.
  3. Provide comprehensive support to victims of enforced disappearances, their relatives, as well as victims of other gross human rights violations, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in all occupied territories of Ukraine.
  4. Use the mechanism of universal jurisdiction to prosecute persons involved in enforced disappearances, torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in all occupied territories of Ukraine.

Crimea-SOS

Regional Center for Human Rights

Human Rights House Crimea

Human Rights Centre ZMINA

Center for Civil Liberties

Institute of Mass Information

Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research

Cherkasy Human Rights Center

Open Dialogue Foundation

Regional Council of Ukrainians of Crimea

Taurian Humanitarian Platform

Human Rights Center “Action”

Crimean Human Rights Group

“Almenda” Civic Education Center

Sova Expert Group

Association of Relatives of the Kremlin Political Prisoners

Media Initiative for Human Rights

Union of Internally Displaced Persons

Crimean Center for Business and Cultural Cooperation “Ukrainian House”

Legal Advisory Group

PEN Ukraine

National Union of Journalists of Ukraine

NGO “D.O.M.48.24”

Media Club of Zaporizhia Region