Human Rights Watch: Absolute numbers of civilian casualties in Donbas drop.

Human Rights Watch notes the decrease in civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine, though "civilians’ lives and well-being at risk."

As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, presented the HRW World Report 2020 at the UN Headquarters.

“Hostilities in eastern Ukraine entered their sixth year and continued to put civilians’ lives and well-being at risk, even as absolute numbers of civilian casualties dropped,” reads the section on Ukraine.

As noted, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky “demonstrated commitment to carrying out anti-corruption reform and ending the armed conflict with Russia.” Among positive achievements, the report mentions prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia, as a result of which eleven prisoners held by Russia on politically motivated charges and 24 Ukrainian sailors Russia captured in the Kerch Strait in 2018, were released.

The hardship for many older people in accessing their pensions is underscored. However, crossing the delimitation line through the checkpoints was simplified.

The report emphasizes that justice for crimes committed during the 2014 Maidan protests and violence in Odesa remained largely unaddressed. Among the positive development, the cancellation of immunity for lawmakers and granting independence to the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine are highlighted.

“Independent media remained under pressure. The Institute of Mass Information, a media watchdog, documented at least 11 cases of journalists beaten or injured and one killed, between January and July 2019. In June, investigative journalist Vadym Komarov died from severe head injuries he sustained in a May attack by an unidentified assailant,” reads the reports.

A separate section is dedicated to human rights abuses in the occupied Crimea.

“Throughout the year, Russian authorities in occupied Crimea continued to harass Crimean Tatars, prosecuting dozens on trumped-up terrorism charges. In March alone, Russian authorities arrested 24 men, most of whom were active in Crimean Solidarity, a legal and social support group for families of those arrested for political reasons. All were charged with association with Hizb ut-Tahrir, a pan-Islamist movement that is proscribed in Russia as a “terrorist” organization but is legal in Ukraine,” the report underscores.

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