22 Mar 2022

Delegation travels to Ukrainian-Polish border in support of Ukrainian NHRI and to observe the human rights situation

On 19 March, an ENNHRI delegation visited the Ukrainian-Polish border to show support to and solidarity with the Ukrainian NHRI. The delegation heard about its work, challenges and needs for support, and delivered humanitarian aid to its representatives working in the conflict zone. The mission was also an opportunity to observe the human rights situation unfolding in Poland.

The delegation met with the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights representatives for Western and Northern Ukraine, Svitlana Semchyshyn and Viktoria Piekhova. They reported the daily shelling, loss of life, over 10 million displaced persons, and difficulties of working in such circumstances. The institution and its staff will continue work on the ground in Ukraine, despite the ongoing danger.

The Ukrainian NHRI continues to tirelessly promote and protect human rights, despite the difficult circumstances. It is closely monitoring violations of human rights, humanitarian and international criminal law, including through cooperation with networks of human rights defenders. It is processing many individual complaints on its 24-hour hotline from within and outside of Ukraine, as well as recording verified evidence for use by international accountability mechanisms. In addition, it is informing individuals within and outside of Ukraine on their rights, and providing twice daily updates on the situation in-country to international partners.

During its visit, the delegation also witnessed how the Polish NHRI is helping those seeking refuge. The NHRI is monitoring conditions at reception centres, visiting border crossing points, and connecting state authorities, civil society and business as part of the wider crisis response. Meetings with such local actors, as well as displaced persons and international actors, gave insight into the human realities on the ground. The delegation noted key concerns regarding gender-based violence and trafficking, and the treatment of minority groups, particularly those from the Roma community.

ENNHRI’s Board and members will explore future ENNHRI action to support the Ukrainian NHRI and in response to the broader human rights situation. These will be discussed at upcoming Board and General Assembly meetings, and conducted in coordination with regional partners.

The ENNHRI delegation was made up of Miroslaw Wroblewski and Dr. Hanna Machińska from the Polish NHRI (ENNHRI Board member), Sirpa Rautio from the Finnish NHRI (ENNHRI Chair-elect), Debbie Kohner (ENNHRI Secretary General), and Oleksandra Zub, consultant. ENNHRI members across Europe supported the action.