memorandum by Mr Sheridan, rapporteur
on the humanitarian situation of Ukrainian refugees
and displaced persons, adopted in January 2015, as well as in the
accompanying report (Doc.
), the Parliamentary Assembly expressed its major concerns
about “the growing number of people who are reported missing on
all sides of the military conflict in Ukraine”.
2 As a rapporteur on the subject and the former rapporteur on
Europe’s missing persons, I made a statement, following the hearing
held by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons
on 30 September 2014, in which I expressed my concern over the growing
number of persons who are reported as being missing on all sides
of the military conflict in Ukraine, and I called on the authorities
of Ukraine and the Russian Federation to undertake all necessary
measures aimed at helping the families of missing persons to find
and, where appropriate, to identify the remains of their loved ones
3 The present report stems from a motion for a resolution on
the missing persons tabled by the committee during the January 2015
part-session, which, given the urgency of the question, was referred
to the committee for report as a follow up to the previous report
on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the overall death toll during the
conflict in Ukraine now exceeds 5 486 people, with another 12 972Note
mid-April 2014. Unfortunately, this number may be much higher as
the fates of more than one thousand people missing during this conflict
5 Among those who have disappeared are not only soldiers, but
also civilians, including volunteers who were assisting the population
in the conflict areas. The information on their numbers and possible
whereabouts is fragmented and spread between different governmental
and non-governmental bodies and is hard to come by. The situation
is further complicated by the fact that most of those who have disappeared
– whether they are alive or not – remain in territory controlled
by separatist groups.
6 I consider it a matter of primary importance to call on all
parties of the conflict and relevant international organisations
to deal with this acute humanitarian problem. In the present report,
I intend to identify concrete measures to be taken and to define
urgent recommendations with a view to discovering information about
the fate of the missing persons.
7 The information contained in this memorandum is gathered from
different available sources and publications, and from the hearing
held on 23 March 2015 with the participation of representatives
of the Ukrainian authorities as well as of civil society from Ukraine
and the Russian Federation. I would also like to thank the Ukrainian
authorities for having provided me with all the requested information
needed for the preparation of the present report.
situation with regard to missing persons during the conflict in
8 As a result of the Ukrainian authorities’ decision
to declare the military actions in the east of the country as an
Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO), the institution with the foremost
responsibility for collecting data on the fate of the missing persons
is, in legal terms, the Security Service of Ukraine. However, in
practice, many other bodies, including the Ministry of Defence and
all law-enforcement agencies in Ukraine, are collecting information
on soldiers killed (Category 200), injured (Category 300) and missing
or captured (Category 400) during the conflict. The numbers in brackets
refer to the relevant category in military codes. Consequently, there
are different lists of missing persons established by different
bodies and the available information is fragmented.
9 A person is considered missing if his/her remains have not
been found. Even if there are testimonies of the death of a person,
if there are no remains, the person will still be added to Category
400 and would only be moved to Category 200 after six months. In
practice, however, sometimes the same person’s name appears in both
categories on different lists at the same time.
10 Unfortunately, it happens quite often that there are no recovered
bodies of killed soldiers, but they are reported by commanders as
having been killed. In some cases, the bodies of soldiers are abandoned
on the battle field, or they are burnt. In such situations, the
missing soldiers could appear under either of the two lists, 200
11 According to the information provided to me by the Security
Service of Ukraine, during the period from 1 April 2014 to 12 May
2015, 1 330 persons were registered as missing. Of these, 3 were
journalists; 43 Internal Affairs staff; 481 military personnel;
8 border guards; 14 fighters from volunteer regiments; 36 staff
of the National Guard; 16 volunteers; 621 civilians and 108 unidentified
persons. The highest increase in the number of missing was registered
after the attacks in August 2014. The numbers of missing are changing
every day, as many relatives especially on the occupied territories
do not register the disappearance of their missing family. Some
of them prefer not to do it for psychological reasons.
2.1 Missing civilians
As reported by the human rights activists working
on the territories occupied by separatists, a large number of activists,
journalists and civilians have been kidnapped by terrorist militants.
Many of them were beaten, tortured and even used as slaves to dig
trenches and erect roadblocks.Note
The relatives of missing civilians
are terrified of repression by the occupants and are therefore afraid
to report cases of missing persons.
13 I was very moved by the story of Lera Kulish from Luhansk:
“At 4 in the morning on 8 August 2014, eight armed persons forced
their way into the house of my parents in the town of Peremozhne
in the Luhansk region. I was away, but my parents and my grandfather
were at home. The terrorists were searching for weapons, but did
not find any. So they took my mother, Elena Kulish, and my stepfather,
Vladimir Alekhin, as well as two of our cars parked in the courtyard.
My mother had created a web blog giving news from the town to the
relatives living outside the occupied territory. I presume that
it is because of this activity that my parents were abducted. In
December, I was called by the LNR [Luhansk People’s Republic] authorities
to identify the bodies, but it was impossible to do so, as the bodies
were in a very poor condition. The authorities are not handling
the bodies and will not take DNA samples. They promise to send them
to Rostov oblast in Russia for the metric expertise, but nothing
There are also some reports on the cases of abduction of Ukrainian
civilians and their illegal transfer to the territory of the Russian
Federation. One of the leaders of the UNA-UNSO party, Mykola Karpiuk,
was kidnapped in Chernigiv Region (Ukraine) and moved to Russia
on 21 March 2014. His family received information from the Russian
Investigative Committee about criminal charges against him. They
were informed that he had been convicted in Yesentuki (Russian Federation,
North Caucasus) and prosecuted with so-called “banditism” charges
for alleged participation in the Chechen military campaign in 1994-1996.
Since his abduction, the family has received only one letter from
him on 6 February 2015. In breach of Russian Federation legislation,
a lawyer and Ukrainian Consul has not received permission to visit
Mykola Karpiuk. On 14 May 2015, his lawyer, Mr Illia Novikov, stated
that he did not believe Karpiuk was still alive.Note
15 I consider that the separatist groups which control the occupied
territories in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions should be called
on to refrain from violations of human rights, in particular abductions,
enforced disappearances, torture and politically motivated killings
of Ukrainian citizens. They should conduct effective investigations
and prosecutions of perpetrators in the cases of such crimes.
2.2 Missing persons
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and local non-governmental
organisations have reported several cases of missing persons in
Crimea since May 2014.Note
to the Ukrainian non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Centre
of Civil Liberties, at least 20 civilians have gone missing since
the occupation of the peninsula. The overwhelming majority of victims
are representatives of the opposition to the illegal occupation
of Crimea. Three of them were found dead, eight were released and
the location of nine people is still unknown.
17 At least six abducted persons were subjected to torture and
inhuman treatment. For example, the Crimean Tatar activist Reshat
Ametov was found dead with numerous traces of torture (his death
was caused by a penetrating stab to the eye). This provoked fear
amongst other members of the Crimean-Tatar community and drove a
lot of people to leave their native land. Almost 20 000 people have
been displaced from Crimea since its annexation by the Russian Federation,
seeking protection in other parts of Ukraine and abroad.
As reported by the Russian Ombudsperson, Ms Ella Pamfilova,Note
in her annual report for 2014, since
the establishment of the Russian jurisdiction over Crimea there
have been 13 cases of missing Crimean Tatars, 24 missing Ukrainians
and 119 missing Russians.
However, it is impossible to provide a real number of the
missing persons in Crimea, as the occupying authorities are not
investigating the cases of disappearances and are not permitting
the international human rights monitors access to the territory
of Crimea. Overall, the human rights situation in Crimea is extremely worrying,
as confirmed by the recent report by the Council of Europe Human
and the United
Nations High Commissioner for Human RightsNote
2.3 Missing Russian
20 There is no official information on missing Russian
soldiers provided by the Russian authorities, as so far, they do
not recognise their involvement in this conflict. Nevertheless,
Russian officials, in particular President Putin, has on several
occasions recognised the existence of Russian “volunteers” helping
their “brothers” in the east of Ukraine.
21 On the other hand, the Ukrainian Security Service has created
a hotline for the relatives of missing Russian soldiers. Since its
creation, it has received more than 20 applications from Russian
families seeking information on Russian soldiers who have disappeared
in Donbas. The Security Service of Ukraine informs the Russian Consulate
in Kyiv about all cases of captured Russian citizens, so that they
can inform their relatives about their present location.
Here is one story of a Russian soldier who disappeared in
Ukraine, published in Deutsche Welle
on 4 March
2015: “An orphan by the name of Petr Khokhlov signed a limited contract
in 2014 with the Russian army. One day, he disappeared from his
base, without saying a word to either his fiancee or his brother.
Some time later, he surfaced again on a video made by Ukrainian
authorities as a prisoner of war. Later, his brother learned that
Petr had been exchanged for Ukrainian soldiers and had been handed
to the separatists. But the Russian army representative didn't want
to know about it. Officially, Khokhlov was a deserter. His trail
went cold again until months later, when a New
reporter found Khokhlov at a separatist checkpoint
in eastern Ukraine. He told the reporter that he was there voluntarily.”Note
3 Response and actions
to identify missing persons
3.1 Ukrainian authorities’
3.1.1 Co-ordination mechanism
and lists of the missing
23 The Ukrainian authorities have created a specific
structure tasked with co-ordinating and providing assistance in
the search for captured and missing persons. On 2 September 2014,
on the instruction of the President of Ukraine, an Interagency Centre
for Assistance in the Release of Captives and Hostages and the Search
for Missing Persons was set up under the auspices of the Ukrainian
Security Service. The deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service,
Vitaly Yalovenko, has been appointed as Head of the Centre.
24 The Centre examines applications from Ukrainian and foreign
nationals who are looking for missing persons and assists and advises
them. It is also tasked with drawing up a list of missing persons
during the conflict in Ukraine. As at 12 May 2015, the Centre had
received 1 172 e-mail appeals, 1 390 hotline calls and 1 033 personal
25 In the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, the Division of the
general department of military forces of Ukraine has established
a “hotline” for the exchange of information about military personnel
killed or missing-in-action. This hotline is designed to assist
military personnel, representatives of security forces and their
26 The Ministry of Internal Affairs has established several territorial
working groups in the regions, in the city of Kyiv and at railway
stations, whose main task it is to collect information on missing,
abducted and imprisoned persons and to register it in the Unified
register of pre-trial investigations. These groups also have a mandate
to start operational investigation cases.
27 For the purpose of focusing the attention of the public and
the mass media on searching for persons who have disappeared in
the anti-terrorist operation region, the official web page of the
Ministry of Internal Affairs published guidelines for those citizens
whose relatives had disappeared in the anti-terrorist operation
region, the procedure for identifying bodies, a list of missing
persons, and phone numbers of the heads of working groups.
28 The main concern with regard to all the above lists is that
they are partly established on the basis of oral or written reports
from citizens without prior thorough verification. As a result,
they are not totally reliable. As the relatives of missing persons
often contact different institutions, the same names may be mentioned
in different lists. Furthermore, it may happen that a person whose
fate has been established still remains on one or more lists.
29 To my knowledge, there is no consolidated list of missing
civilians during the conflict established by the central authorities.
The names of missing civilians can be found in many different lists,
including the lists of non-governmental and volunteer organisations
working on this problem.
30 It is understandable that the Ukrainian central authorities,
who have been confronted with the need for an emergency response,
have reacted by instructing all relevant bodies to deal with the
issue of missing persons in the frameworks of their respective competencies.
However, some possible improvements in the current mechanisms and
co-ordination system can be made. First of all, I consider that
the co-ordinating body should be placed within the institutional
framework and under the responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers,
in order to have the institutional capacity to work with all governmental
bodies involved in the solution of the problem of missing persons.
It should include representatives of civil society and the families
of missing persons. This body should be given the necessary power
and resources to carry out its work. It should also maintain a unified
data register of all missing persons during the anti-terrorist operation.
3.1.2 Tracing, identification
and management of human remains
31 A number of measures have been undertaken by the
Ukrainian authorities aimed at enabling the tracing and identification
of missing persons, both military and civilian. On 1 October 2014,
the President of Ukraine designated the State Forensic Research
Center of the Ministry of the Interior as the only institution tasked
with maintaining a database of DNA cards containing genetic characteristics
of unidentified bodies and of relatives of people who had disappeared
in the anti-terrorist operation region.
32 The Ministry of the Interior is also in charge of a whole
range of measures on DNA expertise of the remains of the missing
soldiers. It has at its disposal seven modern laboratories for DNA
analysis (in Vinnycka, Zaporizhska, Lvivska, Mykolaivska, Kyivska
oblast and the city of Kyiv). The relatives of missing persons,
both military and civilian, can address local police stations with
information about a missing relative, where, after completing all
procedural matters, they should obtain permission for a DNA test
free of charge. The results of the test are added to the unified
Collection of samples and molecular genetic testing for the
purpose of identifying a person killed in the anti-terrorist operation
region on the motion of an investigator are completely free with
all the associated expenses covered by the State. Since April 2014,
the Interior Ministry agencies have launched over 5 000 criminal
proceedings into the disappearances of citizens; DNA samples have
been collected from over 1 130 relatives of missing persons, over
1 000 biological samples have been received from other law-enforcement agencies,
and almost 652 DNA profiles of unidentified bodies have been entered
into the database to conduct a comparative analysis. A total of
325 bodies have been identified.Note
34 One of the significant problems is that of mass graves. After
the Ilovaysk tragedy, where 243 Ukrainian soldiers were killed,
the morgues were unable to accommodate such a huge number of corpses.
According to the rules, if a body stays unidentified for more than
10 days it must be buried. Therefore, those bodies of unidentified
soldiers were buried in three temporary mass graves (at Krasnopilsk
cemetery in Dnipropetrovsk (more than 170 bodies), at the central
cemetery in Kushugum (54 bodies) and in Starobilsk (37 bodies)).
In each case, the DNA samples have been collected and registered
in the unified data base. Among them, 47 bodies have been identified.
To simplify and speed up the identification procedure of the unidentified
remains, it would be necessary to create an additional DNA laboratory
35 One of the main obstacles in the identification of bodies
of Ukrainian soldiers is the absence of military badges. Until recently,
only officers of the Ukrainian army had them, and even now they
are not commonly used.
36 It is also reported that several mass graves exist on the
occupied territories in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, but at
this stage there is no possibility to conduct exhumation and identification
of these human remains. According to NGOs, in the Donetsk region
there is a Centre for return and search for missing under the so-called
“ministry of defence of the DNR”, while in Luhansk region many bodies
are sent to the Rostov oblast of the Russian Federation. It is clear
that the agreement of all sides of the conflict is needed in order
to co-ordinate the exchange of information on missing persons, at
least at the level of humanitarian organisations.
3.2 Legal situation
37 International humanitarian law, in particular the
Protocol I (1977) Additional to the Geneva Conventions (Articles
32 and 33) very clearly defines the right of families to know the
fate of their missing relatives. All parties of the conflict have
“to search for the persons who have been reported missing by an
adverse Party, as soon as circumstances permit, and at the latest
from the end of active hostilities”, “to facilitate the gathering
of information necessary for such a research”, “to notify every
arrest, transfer, release or death in captivity to the Central tracing
Agency of the ICRC” and “to carry out a search for persons having
died in other circumstances as a result of hostilities”.
The European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) imposes
numerous obligations on its signatory States regarding missing persons.
For example, according to the case law of the European Court of
Human Rights, insufficient investigation into the fate of a missing
person or the failure of the authorities to hand over the information
in their possession may be considered as a form of torture of the
missing person’s family and friends (Article 3). Likewise, any detention
which is not officially recognised by the authorities and which
is followed by the person’s disappearance constitutes a violation
of the right to liberty and security (Article 5) and also of the
right to life (Article 2). Finally, observance of the right to an
effective remedy (Article 13) requires the authorities not only
to pay damages but also to conduct a thorough and effective investigation
with a view to identifying and punishing those responsible, if a
relative claims, on reasonable grounds, that a member of his or
her family disappeared when in detention.Note
39 According to the Civil Code of Ukraine (Part 1, Article 43),
a person can be recognised by the Court as missing if, during one
year after his/her disappearance there has been no news of his/her
location at the place of his/her permanent residence. The person
can be declared dead if there has been no information about his/her
whereabouts at the place of his/her residence for three years since
his/her disappearance. In some situations, this period could be
shortened to six months (if his/her disappearance can be linked
to a situation threatening his/her death).
40 As regards people who go missing during military actions,
Part 2, Article 46 of the Civil Code of Ukraine provides that such
persons can be declared dead by the court in two years. However,
in specific circumstances (during combat, missing in action), the
person can be declared missing in six months’ time, but not before.
The person is declared missing from the date of his/her probable
death and not from the date of the court decision.
41 The Civil Procedural Code of Ukraine regulates the order of
recognition of a person as missing or dead. According to its Article
246, it is necessary to submit a relevant application to the court
in the last known place of residence of the missing person. After
that, the court will start the investigation and will hand down
its decision. If the person is recognised as missing, the notary
will start the procedure to establish guardianship of the missing
person’s property. If a person is recognised as dead, the court
will send its decision to a relevant organ of the State registration
of civil acts and to the notary, who will define the beneficiaries
of the property of the dead person.
42 The Law of Ukraine “On the pensions for the persons, demobilised
from military service and some other persons”, in its Part 2, Article
29 provides that the families of military personnel who have died
in service will be equal to the families of soldiers killed in action.
Therefore, if the person went missing during the military action,
she or he could be recognised as having perished immediately, without
being recognised as missing. Thus, the family of such a person will
have a right to receive a pension for the missing serviceman or
woman. To get this pension, the family member must make an application
to the local department of the Pension Fund of Ukraine.
43 The main problem is that the families of missing persons are
very often unaware of these legal provisions and also their implementation
by the relevant authorities is unsatisfactory. Also, the system
of the recognition of the rights of families for State support is
very complicated and should be revised with a view to simplifying it.
It should be recognised that Ukraine’s legislation was not prepared
for the situation of military actions on its territory and could
not foresee all the different legal aspects of problems incurred.
Therefore, the experience of other European countries which have
lived through the situation of military conflict could be of help
in adapting the national legislation to the current situation. The
legal expertise of the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC) and its Model Law of Missing could be used by the Ukrainian
lawmakers in strengthening the legal measures to deal with the problem
of missing persons.
3.3 Response of civil
society and volunteer organisations
3.3.1 Response of Ukrainian
44 A number of Ukrainian NGOs, human rights organisations
and volunteer groups are working to identify and collect information
on missing soldiers and civilians. They also provide logistical,
legal and material assistance to the families of the missing.
45 The data base of the NGO “Good Action”, created by a volunteer,
Anna Mokrousova, includes missing persons mainly form the Luhansk
and Donetsk regions. It includes 371 missing military personnel,
260 military hostages and 883 perished military personnel (who were
considered as missing). It also has information on 239 missing civilians
and 73 hostages.
46 Organisations such as the humanitarian mission “Black Tulip”,
“Donbas-SOS”, “Crimean field mission” and “The Centre for Civil
Liberties” are also collecting information on missing persons from
their relatives. It should be stressed that not all relatives of
missing persons go to NGOs for help, as many of them are living
on the occupied territories and have no access to the Internet.
47 The main concern of these NGOs is that each organisation has
a different list of missing persons and there is no systemic action
on comparing and compiling these lists. This work should be ensured
by the Ukrainian Government.
48 I would like to pay special tribute to the work of the all-Ukrainian
organisation “The Union of People’s Memory” and Mr Yaroslav Zhylkin,
Head of the Board. Since the beginning of the conflict these courageous people
have been dealing with the tracing, exhumation and evacuation of
bodies from the occupied territory. More than 450 bodies of Ukrainian
soldiers have been found and exhumed. In fact, they are doing the
work which should be done by the State and do not even receive financial
support from the State. Sometimes the Ministry of Defence provides
them with petrol for the transportation of the bodies and the ICRC
provides them with body bags. The monthly cost of such operations
is around €20 000. For the moment, all tracing missions are financed
by donations from private individuals.
Ukrainian volunteer organisations and NGOs try to respond
to the immediate needs of the families of missing persons. On the
initiative of Ms Olha Bohomolets, a Ukrainian member of parliament
and adviser to the President of Ukraine, a charity Internet project
“Public Platform People Help the People” (www.lpl.com.ua
) was created. It aims to provide targeted assistance
to the families of those who have died or gone missing during the
conflict in eastern Ukraine. The disabled family members of the
missing persons are also granted the right to take part in this
programme, as under the current legislation they are not eligible
to any social and financial support in the situation of the loss
of a breadwinner.
3.3.2 Response of Russian
50 The Russian NGO “Soldiers Mothers of Saint Petersburg”,
which defends the rights of recruits and soldiers, has established
a telephone hotline for relatives of missing Russian soldiers and
has received information about at least 100 killed and 300 injured
Russian soldiers. It has appealed to the Russian military authorities
to investigate these cases.
3.3.3 Reactions of international
organisation and NGOs
The ICRC has deployed its missions in Kyiv, Luhansk,
Donetsk and Kharkiv. It has been active in documenting and compiling
cases of missing persons together with the Ukrainian Red Cross Society
and is currently following 300 individual cases of missing persons.
Collaboration between the authorities on all sides is ongoing in
order to clarify the fate of those persons. The ICRC has also delivered
500 body bags to the Civil-Military Directorate of the Ukrainian
Armed Forces for their use in the east of Ukraine and materials
for stock refilling.Note
52 Human Rights Watch is actively involved in the monitoring
of human rights abuses in Crimea and released a report “Rights in
Retreat”, in which a special part is dedicated to enforced disappearances
3.4 Assistance to the
families of missing persons
This is only one short story of a family tragedy
provoked by this conflict: “Tatiana Efremova got the first worrying
call a few hours after the group left Poltava, when her 48-year-old
mother, Irina Boiko, phoned to warn her daughter that they had been
detained by rebels and accused of supporting the “enemy” Ukrainian
army. A few hours later, a rebel called and said it was over: Efremova’s
mother had already been shot dead. But hours later came another
call, this one saying Irina Boiko had been released. When Efremova
asked frantically where she could come to collect her mother, the
caller hung up. Another agonising dead end, and Efremova’s seemingly
endless nightmare of uncertainty dragged on.”Note
Ms Efremova said that the “government prioritises the release
of journalists or military personnel, but hardly mentions the volunteers
who are missing”Note
55 The NGOs working with families of missing persons also claim
that the State does not provide necessary support to the families
of missing persons. Sometimes, the families of soldiers whose remains
are returned have to collect money to organise a funeral.
56 The primary need of the families of missing persons is to
get true information on the fate of their loved ones and the need
for accountability. They also should be informed about all procedures
to be taken to register missing persons.
57 Another main priority for the families of missing persons
is to receive an official acknowledgement of the status of “missing
person” and governmental support linked to it. The undefined legal
status of a missing person's spouse or descendant may have consequences
on property rights, the guardianship of children, inheritance and
the possibility of remarriage.
58 Today, the families of missing civilians do not get any financial
or other support from the government, while the families of missing
military staff at least obtain the salary of their missing relatives.
There is also a great need for psychological support for the relatives
of missing persons. In the face of such tragedy, many of them refuse
to give samples of their DNA, as they link this test to a sort of
acknowledgement that their relatives are not alive. Almost all families
of missing persons are facing the problem of fraud. They receive
calls from unidentified persons claiming money from them for information
on their loved ones. In such cases, they should be helped by law-enforcement
agencies to stop such harassment.
59 Thirdly, in the case of people who are missing as a result
of abduction or forced disappearances, or inaction by the State
authorities or military groups, the families often want acknowledgment
of the missing person's dignity and intrinsic value, of the crime,
of the State authorities' or military groups' responsibility and the
steps that need to be taken to address the crime.
4 Necessary actions
to be undertaken in identifying the fate of missing persons
60 International humanitarian law should be respected
by all actors in the situation of armed violence. Nevertheless,
the State authorities and the military groups participating in the
conflict always bear primary responsibility for preventing people
from going missing and for providing true information on their fates
to their families. They are in charge of investigating the cases
of disappearances which occurred on territory and/or by military
groups under their control. They must determine the whereabouts
or the fate of the person and inform and support the relatives.
Where necessary, the authorities must ensure that criminal proceedings
are initiated and reparation paid. The State authorities are thus
also responsible for co-ordinating the work of all humanitarian
organisations or other actors involved in the process of resolving
cases of missing persons.
61 A ceasefire is the main condition for successful operations
of exhumation and identification of the remains of missing persons.
The August 2014 ceasefire allowed the NGOs and voluntary groups
working in Donbas to speed up their work and to exhume and bring
more bodies to the DNA laboratories for the identification procedure.
62 It is of primary importance that the authorities of Ukraine
and the Russian Federation undertake all necessary measures to help
the families of missing persons to find and, where appropriate,
to identify the remains of their loved one’s without delay. The
authorities should also create the necessary legal framework and
national mechanisms to solve the problem of missing persons.
63 It is very regrettable that there is still no unified list
of persons who have gone missing during the military actions in
Ukraine. The tracing of those who have disappeared is undertaken
by various volunteer and human rights organisations and their work
is not co-ordinated by the authorities. The relevant information
on missing persons should be shared among those in the field, the
morgues and the DNA laboratories of the Ukrainian authorities, but
also between the Ukrainian authorities and separatists.
64 An important measure helping families faced with the disappearance
of their relatives is the creation of hotlines in all regional and
oblast centres, where they can obtain all available information
about the situation in the combat zones of the anti-terrorist operation,
namely about the soldiers and volunteers present there. All these
services should be co-ordinated at regional and national levels.