In Odessa the Administrative Court of Appeal upheld, after careful consideration of the case, the judgement of the first instance in the case of restoring the rights of fishermen from Ochakiv town and Strilkove village in Kherson Region, taken hostage by the Russian invaders in 2017 and criminally detained in the Crimea. The lawsuit was filed by the Ukrainian Maritime Independent Trade Union in the interests of hostage fishermen and it was about the fishermen’s abduction by the Russian punitive “administration” from the Ukrainian maritime waters during their lawful maritime fishery labour, and about the subsequent fishermen’s forcible detention in places of non-freedom in the AR Crimea and Sevastopol, including detention in the Russian invaders’ “military units”, together with Russia’s political demands for the release of those fishermen.

The relevant court case 420/7376/20 is extremely important for establishing the fundamental human rights violated by the aggressor, establishing the circumstances of the Russian invaders’ “border guards” of the relevant violations of international maritime law and at the same time on the international war crimes committed in violation of the Hague and Geneva Conventions and the San Remo Instruction. Although these violations of the rights of fishermen by the aggressor state are already under consideration by a number of authorized international bodies, their “Odesa” court case aimed to clearly define the limits of the powers of state bodies of Ukraine to assist the Kremlin hostages. It will be recalled that the draft of law of Ukraine 6104, which is to resolve these issues, has already been submitted to the Parliament of Ukraine by the President, but it has not yet been approved by the Verkhovna Rada. At the same time, these initiatives to protect, in particular, the Crimean hostages of the Kremlin, are undoubtedly time-consuming and are in compliance with international obligations of Ukraine, which has so far been proved by the Odesa court’s decision.

After all, in the decision of October 21, the Odessa court found, among other things, that currently, in the absence of a relevant law, records are created and maintained of persons illegally imprisoned, captured and held by illegal armed groups in Ukraine under the Regulation of April 8, 2019 № 573/152/252, but the maintenance of such records in respect of persons deprived of their liberty in the Crimea is not provided for in that Regulation. Therefore, the panel of judges noted that the lack of opportunity to be included in this record on territorial grounds, can not deprive a person of the right to consider recognizing a person who was deprived of liberty as a result of armed aggression against Ukraine on the basis of submitted documents. It is noteworthy that this approach of the Ukrainian judiciary aimed at protecting the victims of the Russian aggression is fully consistent with the current legislative initiatives of Presidential Bill 6104. The maritime trade union in this case is represented by owr Association’s expert, professor and lawyer Borys Babin.