In connection with the OSCE Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting in Vienna on 2-3 July 2015, the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) organized a side-event to present the report “When God Becomes the Weapon: Persecution Based on Religious Beliefs in the Armed Conflict in Eastern Ukraine”. The report was published in May 2015 in the framework of the Civic Solidarity Platform.
At the side-event speakers Alexandra Novitchkova (CCL) and Svitlana Valko (IPHR) highlighted key findings from the report, which provides a detailed first-hand account of religiously motivated persecution in rebel-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine based on information obtained during a field mission. They presented documentation of widespread and serious violations of the rights of non-Orthodox religious believers in the conflict-affected areas of Ukraine, where dozens of places of worship have been seized, and numerous priest and believers ill-treated, tortured and, even, killed since the conflict began. The representatives of CCL and IPHR called for international pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to formalize the process of instituting a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, which would confer jurisdiction to the International Criminal Court for the prosecution of all crimes against humanity committed on Ukrainian territory. This would serve the interest of the victims affected by the current conflict, including religious believers, and help put an end to rampant impunity in the region.