In December, 2022, Ms.Leniye Umerova, a Crimean Tatar, who lived in Kyiv at that time, had to leave for the occupied Crimea due to her father’s cancer disease. Once she crossed the national frontier between Georgia and the Russian Federation, she was detained allegedly for violating the rules of staying in the regime zone. On December 4, 2022, The Prigorodnyi District Court of the Republic of Northern Ossetia found the detained guilty of “violating the state border regime” (Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation, Article 18.1) and fined her RUR2,000. Ms.Umerova was held in the Center for Temporary Detention of Foreign Citizens near Vladikavkaz until March 13. At night she was released from the Center territory, but four men waited for her at its gate. They rushed her, put a bag on her head, forced her to sit in the car, took her mobile phone card off, brought her to the city of Vladikavkaz area where she was first in her life, and left her there. The police patrol she met ordered her to sit in the police car. She asked about the reasons for taking her to the police station, and showed her passport, then she was detained. Her question about the detention reasons resulted in an administrative report drawn on her for ‘disobedience to the policemen’s requirements’. The Leninskiy District Court of the city of Vladikavkaz imposed an administrative punishment on her – 15 days of arrest.
While Ms.Umerova was in the detention center, she was again charged with an administrative offense. According to the March 26 report, Ms.Umerova, while staying in the detention center in the city of Vladikavkaz, and having exercised her right to a telephone conversation for a total duration of max 15 minutes, allegedly refused to return the phone to a policeman when the time expired, and thus committed disobedience to his lawful requirements. According to Ms.Umerova, she was talking on the mobile during the allowed time while she was walking, and directed to the cell as required by the policeman holding the phone in her hand – the policeman did not demand its return at that time. Ms.Umerova returned the mobile as demanded by the policeman when she had returned from the walking area to the floor where her cell was, and after some time she was informed that an administrative report for disobedience to the policeman’s requirement had been drawn up on her. The court did not consider explanations of the detained, and on March 27 issued a judgment on 15 days of administrative arrest based on the detention staff testimony. Then Leniye Umerova was moved to the detention center in the city of Beslan.
When issuing the judgment, the court did not consider any factual evidence, for instance, CCTV camera records.
On April 9 a new report for disobedience to the police was drawn up on Ms.Umerova. And on April 11, the Sovietskiy Court of Vladikavkaz again sentenced her to 15 days of arrest. It is worth noting that Ms.Umerova pleaded not guilty, and her lawyer noted that the client did not disobey police officers. However, the court found her guilty on the basis of the report and statements compiled by the police officers themselves, and the court determined Ms.Umerova’s non-recognition of her guilt as an aggravating circumstance.
Thus, representatives of the Russian authorities have been illegally depriving Ms. Leniaye Umerova of her freedom for four and a half months, using falsified and groundless accusations, as well as the police, governmental bodies and courts controlled by them. The testimony of Ms.Umerova and her lawyer has not been taken into account.
Pursuant to Article 4 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, persons protected by the Convention are those who at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of persons a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.
Articles 146 – 148 of the Convention determine unlawful confinement of a protected person and willfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, grave breaches and commit the contracting parties to bring the persons guilty of committing these breaches to justice.
Article 8 of the ICC Rome Statute defines willfully depriving a Convention protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial and unlawful confinement ‘war crimes’.
In addition, the Russian Federation violates commitments undertaken according to Articles 9 and 14 of the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights.
We, representatives of human rights organizations, condemned criminal actions of the Russian authorities representatives and demand:
- to release immediately Ms.Leniye Umerova, citizen of Ukraine;
- to investigate effectively and impartially the circumstances of the unlawful confinement of Ms.Umerova;
- to immediately release all political prisoners and civilian hostages who are being held in places of unfreedom on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, other occupied territories of Ukraine or on the territory of the Russian Federation.
We call on the competent bodies of the Ukrainian power:
– to investigate effectively the circumstances of the unlawful confinement and deprivation of Ms.Leniye Umerova, citizen of Ukraine, of the rights of fair and regular trials, and launch criminal proceedings due to the crime committed against Ms.Umerova as stated in Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine;
– to introduce personal sanctions against persons – citizens of the Russian Federation, involved in the unlawful confinement and deprivation of Ms.Leniye Umerova, citizen of Ukraine, of the rights of fair and regular trials;
– to investigate effectively facts of unlawful confinement and other gross breaches of the fundamental human rights by the Russian Federation in relation to citizens of Ukraine who appeared under Russia’s control.
We address governments of international powers and international organizations, including the International Crimea Platform members, with the request:
- to apply the competent persons of the Russian Federation with a demand of releasing Ms.Leniye Umerova immediately;
- to impose personal sanctions on the persons involved in the unlawful confinement and deprivation of Ms.Leniye Umerova, citizen of Ukraine, of the rights of fair and regular trials;
- to hold international consultations aimed at finding instruments to release unlawfully confined and to monitor their health condition on the territory of the Russian Federation;
- to strengthen diplomatic, sanction, and other types of pressure on Russia to prevent new gross violations of human rights in relation to citizens of Ukraine staying on the territory of the Russian Federation and on the Russia occupied territories;
- to support the Government of Ukraine in investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights in the occupied Crimea and on the other occupied territories;
- to maximize the use of International Crimea Platform, the procedures of the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE, other international organizations aimed at speeding up the release of the Crimean political prisoners, civilian hostages on the occupied territories, responding effectively on human rights violations in the occupied Crimea, and promoting the de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine;
- to further increase comprehensive, including military, support of Ukraine aimed at de-occupation of all territories of Ukraine including the AR of Crimea and City of Sevastopol as a must condition to protect human rights and to stop politically reasoned persecutions of Ukrainian citizens.
We also apply to Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, with a request to support a faster liberation of Ms.Leniye Umerova, a Crimean Tatar and citizen of Ukraine, unlawfully deprived of liberty in Russia, via negotiations with President of Russia.
Crimean Human Rights Group
DIYA Human Rights Center
ZMINA Center for Human Rights
PLATFORM FOR RELEASING POLITICAL PRISONERS
Association of Relatives of Political Prisoners of Kremlin
Center for Civil Liberties
Media Initiative for Human Rights
Institute of Peace and Common Ground
Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center
ALMENDA Center for Civil Education
Regional Center for Human Rights
Human Rights House CRIMEA