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UN report: Credible allegations Ukrainian POWs have been tortured by Russian forces

March 27, 2024
Buildings destroyed by shelling in Izyum, Ukraine. (file). — courtesy UNICEF/Pashkina
Buildings destroyed by shelling in Izyum, Ukraine. (file). — courtesy UNICEF/Pashkina

KYIV — The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) issued a new report on Tuesday, revealing a surge in credible allegations of torture and executions of captured Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) at the hands of Russian forces.

According to the Monitoring Mission, interviews conducted with 60 recently released Ukrainian POWs painted a harrowing picture of their experiences in Russian captivity.

“Almost every single one of the Ukrainian POWs we interviewed described how Russian servicepersons or officials tortured them during their captivity, using repeated beatings, electric shocks, threats of execution, prolonged stress positions and mock execution. Over half of them were subjected to sexual violence,” said Danielle Bell, the head of HRMMU.

“Most POWs also recounted the anguish of not being allowed to communicate with their families and being deprived of adequate food and medical attention.”

The report documented “credible allegations” of executions of at least 32 Ukrainian POWs, in 12 separate incidents between December and February. HRMMU has independently verified three of these incidents.

HRMMU also noted findings from interviews with 44 Russian POWs in Ukrainian captivity, stating that while the POWs did not make any allegations of torture at established internment facilities, several provided credible accounts of torture and ill-treatment while in transit having been removed from the battlefield.

Violations in Russian-occupied territory

In addition to the findings on POWs, the report detailed continued violence against civilians in Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, citing, among other violations, killings, arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of expression.

The report highlighted the Ukrainian government’s continued prosecution and conviction of individuals for activities allegedly conducted under Russian occupation.

Civilian casualties remained high during the December 2023-February 2024 period, with conflict-related violence leading to the deaths of 429 civilians and injuring 1,374.

A significant intensification of missile and other aerial munitions (such as suicide unmanned aerial vehicles), together with attacks by Russia in late December and January, caused a spike in civilian casualties in areas far from the frontline, while the overall civilian casualty numbers remained comparable to the previous period.

Meanwhile, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Ukraine reported that attacks continued in the south and east of the country on Monday and Tuesday, impacting civilians and critical infrastructure.

Several people were injured in the cities of Odesa and Kharkiv, according to local authorities.

Hundreds of thousands of people remain without power, mainly in Odesa and Kharkiv Regions. Authorities estimate that restoring the power to its full capacity will take months. Humanitarian organizations are on the ground, providing emergency aid to people affected. — UN News


March 27, 2024
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