Ukraine faces massive challenge in bringing home civilian hostages – Ombudsman Lubinets
Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets explains why returning Ukrainian civilian hostages from Russian captivity is the greatest challenge for the country
He shared the information with Espreso TV.
"Returning civilian hostages is a particularly challenging task. As for prisoners of war, there are at least the Geneva Conventions, there is an exchange procedure: we return their prisoners of war and take ours. As for the children: after the arrest warrant for Putin and Lvova-Belova was issued, after a public information campaign, a worldwide information campaign, I can confirm that we have managed to do our job more effectively," he said.
The Ombudsman mentioned that Ukraine now manages to return children on a weekly basis, and they have received assistance in this regard. However, civilian hostages represent the most challenging category of Ukrainian citizens, as there is no established exchange or return procedure for them.
"The Russians claim these individuals are criminals by their legal standards. However, there is no established procedure to ascertain that these individuals are Ukrainian citizens who were merely living under temporary occupation and admitted to singing Ukrainian songs at home. Subsequently, they were detained and are now facing attempts to initiate criminal proceedings against them, alleging that they are Ukrainian spies. And such cases are not isolated," Lubinets said.
The Ombudsman noted that as of now, according to Ukrainian data, over 25,000 civilian hostages remain in captivity.
"We have repatriated 144 civilians out of a total of 2,598 individuals who have been returned so far. And out of those who were held captive since 2014, before the full-scale aggression, we returned only 2 Ukrainian women," he said.
Lubinets noted that he could not elaborate on the details of how exactly they were released, but emphasized that Ukraine has never violated international humanitarian law and is trying to establish a separate platform where it can not only raise the issue of civilian hostages, but also find a mechanism for their effective return.
"As of now, we have not found such a mechanism. And I cannot say that I see a prospect that we will be able to do this in the nearest future," Lubinets said.
On July 7, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said that Ukraine had managed to identify most of the bodies of prisoners of war killed in a Russian terrorist attack in the village of Olenivka, Donetsk region.
On July 12, Ukraine managed to return the bodies of 19 people who died in Russian captivity.
In August, 22 defenders returned to Ukraine from Russian captivity.
- A representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Andriy Yusov, said that about 2,600 prisoners of war have returned home in the context of a full-scale war. But Russia refuses to return some of them without explanation.
- On Friday, September 15, Ukraine managed to bring home 51 more bodies of fallen soldiers.