Ukraine unrest: UN urges restraint

Washington, Dec 14 : The United Nations on Friday called on all parties in Ukraine to exercise restraint amid reports of the use of excessive force by police and violent acts by demonstrators, and urged the Government to ensure that human rights safeguards are upheld.

"We are following closely the events in central Kiev and warn against the risk of further escalation, violence and polarisation," Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

"We are particularly concerned at reports of the use of excessive force by riot police and violent acts by some demonstrators."

The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been experiencing violent unrest, with thousands of demonstrators marching on municipal buildings in protests reportedly sparked by a Government decision not to sign an agreement on broader integration with the European Union.

OHCHR called on the authorities to conduct a thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigation into all the violent incidents of the past two weeks.

"Holding perpetrators of human rights violations and violence accountable, regardless of their status, is essential in times of social unrest and would help restore calm," said Ms. Shamdasani.

She added that the Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that human rights safeguards are upheld during arrest and detention and to avoid unlawful or arbitrary detentions. State authorities must also ensure that detainees are not subjected to torture or any other form of ill-treatment. All those injured must have prompt access to medical care and victims should be able to seek redress.

"Ukraine is bound by international conventions guaranteeing the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. We call on all parties involved to exercise restraint to create the conditions for the free expression of opinions," Ms. Shamdasani stated.

OHCHR joined calls made by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and other international officials for a meaningful dialogue between all parties to find a negotiated solution.

--IBNS (Posted on 14-12-2013)

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