[Brussels] 25 February 2022.-
Protection International stands with the people in Ukraine and strongly calls for the government of Russia to immediately stop its military attacks and put an end to the violent use of force, which has already had a terrible impact on civilian lives, goods, and infrastructure.
Protection International calls upon all the parties in this conflict to resume the diplomatic path, as the only way to protect human rights and for a just, sustainable, and peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Protection International calls on all the parties and multilateral institutions and mechanisms to prioritize and safeguard the lives and work of people who defend human rights in the region, including in Russia, Ukraine, and its neighboring countries.
As the UN General Assembly recently stated, “States should develop and implement appropriate and effective protection mechanisms for human rights defenders at risk or in vulnerable situations”. Such situations include conflict and post-conflict settings. Therefore, PI calls for all parties involved to ensure protection mechanisms and to provide extraordinary support for human rights defenders in Ukraine. Such mechanisms should address the fact that, in some cases, in conflict contexts, state and non-state actors orchestrate opportunistic ways to either make defenders appear to be supporting hostilities or to label attacks against defenders as “collateral damage” of the hostilities, as a way to disguise direct attacks against their work.
The international community should also advocate for and commit resources to strengthen the resilience capacity of civil society and HRDs in Ukraine and Russia, including support to combat criminalization, surveillance, and digital attacks, as well as to access psychosocial support.
Finally, Protection International urges all parties to negotiate the establishment of humanitarian corridors that allow people who want to leave the country to do so safely, and for humanitarian organizations to carry out their activities without fear of reprisal or attacks. Any approaches to security matters should be based on the preservation of human life and human rights and should ensure security forces operate in line with International Humanitarian Law (IHL), human rights, as well as the UN Declarations on Women and Children in Emergencies and Conflict and on Human Rights Defenders.