Activists Demand Parliament Support War Crimes Bill
The bill, which determines liability for war crimes and crimes against humanity is to be considered by the Parliament on the sixth of June
Former captives, as well as human rights activists, brought these items to the building of the Verkhovna Rada and demanded that it support a bill on war criminals. If passed, the law would eliminate the statute of limitations on prosecuting war crimes.
In 2014, a mattress stained with blood and bottles for water were luxury goods for former captive Yevhen Shliakhtin.
In March of that year, pro-Russians hung his portrait in Luhansk central square and accused him of supporting Ukraine. Later, Shliakhtin was thrown behind bars for 30 days.
“The torture was constant. The militants broke my fingers and hands during the first night of my captivity. But, luckily, I survived. Though there were people, who didn’t survive. They just beat captives with clubs, and tortured them to death,” he said.
Currently, more than 80 Ukrainians are being held by pro-Russian militants for their patriotic stance. Despite prisoner swaps between Russia and Ukraine, some of them may not survive the captivity.
“Around August 20, 2014, I heard screams from a nearby cell. Then I found out that a person was tortured to death. I did not know the deceased, and I did not know who had tortured him. In the morning, his body was wrapped in a blanket. My cellmate said he had been buried in a dump,” Shliakhtin said.
Journalist Mariia Varfolomeyeva also knows firsthand what captivity is. She had been held in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic for over a year. The militants claimed she was a terrorist who had fired at the city of Luhansk.
“The part of the time I spent in a basement. There was no fresh air, no sun, no normal toilet. And after I was in jail together with people, who committed crimes in the past,” she said.
The rally, organized by Varfolomeyeva, as well as other former captives and human rights activists, was not only a reminder about the captives. It was also a call to the Verkhovna Rada to pass a bill on war crimes.
“It’s given responsibility for all actions on the international level. It means if a court delivers a decision against criminals… It means that at any time we can arrest them and punish them. Because this category of crimes doesn’t have a time of ending,” executive director of the center for civil liberties Oleksandra Romantsova said.
The bill, which determines liability for war crimes and crimes against humanity is to be considered by the Parliament on Thursday.