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OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Secretary General call for immediate release of detained OSCE officials in areas of Donetsk and Luhansk

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WARSAW/VIENNA, 24 April 2022 - OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, and OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid call for the release of four national members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine detained in in non-government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk.

“The detention of SMM national mission members in Donetsk and Luhansk is unacceptable, and we call for their immediate release,” said Rau. “They were taken for engaging in administrative activities that fall within their official functions as OSCE staff. They have been held without charge for a period of time now and the OSCE and their families have not been sufficiently informed of the situation.”

While all mandate activities ceased on 1 April, the SMM continues to carry out minimum necessary administrative tasks.

“I condemn the deplorable acts of intimidation, harassment, and hostile public rhetoric against the SMM and mission staff in non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk. All of our national mission members remain OSCE officials and should be afforded functional immunity, including during this period when the mandate has lapsed,” Schmid said. “Their work has been crucial in many areas, including maintaining contacts with relevant stakeholders and civil society, and facilitating localized ceasefires for vital infrastructure repair, directly helping to alleviate human suffering.”

Out of concern for the safety of the staff, the OSCE is not able to release any additional information about the situation at this moment.

Background information

On 31 March 2022, during discussions at the OSCE Permanent Council, no consensus was reached on the extension of the mandate of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, owing to the position expressed by the Russian Federation. Therefore, as of 1 April, no mandated activities have taken place and the SMM has moved to an administrative mode. This involves carrying out a limited number of essential administrative functions, including those focused on efforts to ensure the safety and security of its mission members, assets and premises, throughout Ukraine, including in areas not under the control of the Government.

While the OSCE Chairmanship continues to engage with participating States, the SMM is discharging its obligations in the management of its human, financial and material resources pending a conclusion on the future of the Mission.

Contacts

Communication and Media Relations Section
OSCE Secretariat
press@osce.org

Bartosz Kempiński
Press and Communication
Polish OSCE 2022 Chairmanship
Phone: +43 660 207 4782
bartosz.kempinski@msz.gov.pl