UN Report Reveals Russia Tortured, Executed Civilians in Ukraine; Kyiv also mistreated detainees

BERLIN (AP) — Russian forces have widely and systematically tortured civilians detained in connection with its attack on Ukraine, summarily executing dozens of them, the human rights office said on Tuesday. United Nations.

The global body interviewed hundreds of victims and witnesses for a report detailing more than 900 cases of civilians, including children and the elderly, arbitrarily detained in the conflict, most by Russia.

The vast majority of those interviewed said they had been tortured and, in some cases, subjected to sexual violence while in custody by Russian forces, the head of the UN human rights office in Ukraine said.

“Torture was used to force victims to confess to helping the Ukrainian Armed Forces, to coerce them into cooperating with the occupation authorities or to intimidate those who held pro-Ukrainian views,” said Matilda Bogner.

The report, which covers a 15-month period from the start of the Russian invasion until May 2023, also documented 75 cases of arbitrary detention by Ukrainian security forces, saying a significant proportion of them constituted also enforced disappearances.

More than half of those detained by Ukrainian forces also said they had been tortured or ill-treated, usually during interrogation or immediately after arrest, Bogner said.

Ukraine gave UN investigators “confidential and unimpeded access” to detainees in official detention centers, except for a group of 87 Russian sailors, she said.

“The Russian Federation did not grant us this access, despite our requests,” Bogner said.

The UN human rights office has previously documented the detention and summary execution of Ukrainian POWs by Russia. The latest report revealed that Russian forces also carried out at least 77 summary executions of civilians.

Among those detained were local officials, humanitarian volunteers, priests and teachers, many of whom were held incommunicado in “deplorable conditions”, according to the report.

UN experts found no evidence that Russian authorities had investigated alleged abuses by their own forces and the report expressed concern over a bill that would exempt perpetrators from criminal liability for crimes committed in occupied parts of Ukraine under certain circumstances.

“It would violate the state’s obligation to investigate and prosecute serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross violations of international human rights law,” Bogner said.

While Ukraine launched criminal investigations against Russian forces over the detention of civilians, which resulted in 23 convictions, the UN human rights office said it was unaware of any no investigation against Ukrainian forces for such violations.

Bogner said Ukraine’s national security detention laws “appear to go beyond what is permitted under international law, even in times of public emergency, and have facilitated arbitrary detention.”

She urged both parties to provide information to relatives on the whereabouts and fate of those detained and to release any civilians who remain arbitrarily detained.


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