All Ukrainian law-enforcement and military officials engaged in an operation to restore security in eastern Ukraine must adhere to international standards on the use of force and firearms, Amnesty International has warned.
The call comes after Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs posted a statement earlier today saying that three checkpoints had been taken and five “terrorists were destroyed” by Ukrainian security forces attempting to regain control of Slovyansk, in the Donetsk region, from a pro-Russian armed group that has seized control.
Amnesty International Ukraine researcher Heather McGill said: “International standards on the use of force and firearms are clear – law-enforcement officials should resort to the use of force and firearms only in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury.
“They should apply other non-violent means before resorting to deadly force, and the use of firearms must always be the last resort.
“When the use of force and firearms is unavoidable they should exercise restraint and take steps to minimise damage and injury and preserve life.
“An independent, impartial investigation should be launched into the events leading up to today’s reported loss of life at checkpoints around Slovyansk – if it is found the Ukrainian forces violated international standards and resorted to arbitrary or abusive use of force, they must be brought to justice.
“The armed group’s hostage-taking amid their seizure of public institutions in Slovyansk and other towns and cities in eastern Ukraine is a human rights abuse, but this must not be met with human rights violations by Ukrainian security forces.”
According to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law-enforcement officials shall:
- Exercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved;
- Minimise damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life;
- Ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment;
- Ensure that relatives or close friends of the injured or affected person are notified at the earliest possible moment.