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Ombudsman: Hungary's transfer of Ukrainian POWs violates international law

by Martin Fornusek June 21, 2023 11:52 AM 2 min read
Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) Dmytro Lubinets attends the international conference of human rights commissioners âThe Future of Human Rights in the 21st Centuryâ in Ankara, Turkiye on January 12, 2023. (Muhammed Abdullah Kurtar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said that Budapest's transfer of 11 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) from Russia to Hungary without Ukraine's knowledge violates international law, Liga.net said on June 21, citing a televised interview.

He said that, while Ukraine welcomes all peace initiatives by its partners, Hungary's decision not to involve Kyiv constitutes a breach of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention.

"It was surprising for us that a member of NATO and the EU could do such a thing. I turned to Hungary's ombudsman to examine the conditions of the (POWs') detention, but received no answer," Lubinets said on TV.

According to the ombudsman, Budapest played along with Russian propaganda from the start.

"From the very beginning, this was an information operation of the Russian special services with Hungary's involvement. They will continue to search for new ways to discredit Ukraine."

Hungary to block sanctions against Russia, EU aid for Ukraine unless Kyiv removes OTP bank from list of ‘international war sponsors.’
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Lubinets reiterated previous statements by Ukraine's officials that so far only three prisoners have been returned home, while the rest continue to remain in isolation from Ukrainian authorities.

On June 8, the Russian Orthodox Church announced that it had handed over to Hungary a group of Ukrainian captives of "Zakarpattia origin" at Budapest's request. Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén later confirmed the transfer.

Ukraine's westernmost Zakarpattia Oblast is home to around 150,000 ethnic Hungarians, including 400 serving in the Ukrainian army.

On June 19, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry demanded immediate consular access to the POWs. According to the ministry, they were kept in isolation, not having access to open sources of information and unable to communicate with relatives without "third parties" presence. However, Hungary's Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said the Ukrainian POWs "can move freely in Hungary and do whatever they want."

On June 20, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry informed that three out of 11 POWs have been returned home, and the government continues to work to retrieve the rest of the group.

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