Following the launch of Russia’s military aggression on Ukraine, Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter issued a letter of support to the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Lyudmyla Denisova, whom she met last fall in Greece. In the letter, Ombudswoman Šimonović Einwalter expressed her solidarity with the people of Ukraine and Commissioner Denisova in these challenging times.

Institutions such as human rights commissions and their work are especially important in war and conflict situations. Strong and independent institutions the citizens have trust in play an important role in supporting the individuals affected by the conflict, especially those most vulnerable, as well as in promoting the respect for the culture of law in the most difficult of times.

In her letter to Commissioner Denisova, Ombudswoman Šimonović Einwalter said she would  closely monitor the arrival of Ukrainian refugees to Croatia and extend her support to them. At the same time, by issuing recommendations, warnings and opinions, she will engage in cooperation with Croatian Government, with the aim of ensuring that the organization of the support for the people fleeing war is at the highest possible level.

Support to Commissioner Denisova was also expressed by ENNHRI, the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, whose Board membership includes Ombudswoman Šimonović Einwalter, as well as by the International Ombudsman Institute (IOI) and the Association of Mediterranean Ombudsmen (AOM), whose messages stressed the importance of safeguarding fundamental rights as well as the efforts of the ombudsman institutions in the states bordering with Ukraine in assisting the persons fleeing conflict and called for the immediate establishment of fully operational reception centers for the refugees offering medical and health services, psychological support, adequate housing and meals.

In their statement on the matter the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANNHRI) voiced concerns over the civilian casualties in Ukraine, called for an immediate end of hostilities and for full respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law and expressed support to Commissioner Denisova, reiterating the 2015 Kyiv Declaration on the Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations , which calls on international bodies, national authorities, and representatives of the conflicting parties to support the activities of national human rights institutions in a conflict or post-conflict situation.

In its reaction the European Network of Equality Bodies (Equinet) warned that in conflict situations certain marginalized groups can face disproportionate risk of abandonment, violence, death, and a lack of access to safety, relief, and recovery support. Racial profiling, or any other forms of discrimination, at the borders, in asylum applications or in daily life, cannot be tolerated, stresses the statement, and the states receiving the refugees should pay special attention to accommodating those that are in a particularly vulnerable situation owing to their racial or ethnic origin, gender, gender identity, age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, health status, any other characteristic or a combination of these.