UN rights office alarmed by surging Ukraine violence

The UN human rights office on Tuesday condemned the surging violence in Ukraine, calling on all involved to try to defuse tensions.

Kiev: The UN human rights office on Tuesday condemned the surging violence in Ukraine, calling on all involved to try to defuse tensions.

"We are deeply concerned by the surge in violence in Ukraine, which is resulting in more and more deaths and destruction," said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

"We urge all sides to make a much greater effort to find a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, especially in the various towns in eastern and southern Ukraine that have been racked by increasingly violent confrontations," he told reporters.

Colville said Kiev must ensure that all operations by its military and police are in line with international standards.

"It is extremely important that the authorities themselves demonstrate full respect for the rule of law and scrupulously protect the human rights of all, including the Russian-speaking population," he said.

He also called for "prompt, transparent and comprehensive" probes of events in the flashpoint towns of Donetsk and Odessa -- including the death of several dozen pro-Russian activists in a building fire on Friday during clashes with pro-Kiev militants.

Colville said genuine peaceful demonstrations must be permitted, both as a matter of international law and as a "release valve for people`s legitimate fears and frustrations".

He also said pro-Russian rebels must lay down their arms and "stop all illegal actions, including detaining people and seizing public buildings in violation of Ukraine`s laws and Constitution".

Colville said it was up to leaders at all levels to ease tensions, to prevent violence and to take "serious steps to halt the rhetoric of hatred and confrontation, before the situation spirals totally out of control".

He also condemned attacks on, and harassment of, journalists, saying that freedom to report objectively was key to ending the "increasing misinformation, disinformation and hate speech" on both sides that was sowing "artificial, destructive and deeply dangerous divisions".