A United Nations monitoring mission in Ukraine finds Russia and Ukraine guilty of violating international law.
A United Nations mission in Ukraine expressed grave concern over the summary execution of more than 70 Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces, while documenting other violations of international law by both sides of the conflict.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) published on Tuesday its findings compiled between the start of Russia’s large-scale invasion of its neighboring country in February last year and May this year.
“OHCHR is gravely concerned by the summary execution of 77 civilians (72 men and 5 women) while arbitrarily detained by the Russian Federation, and the additional death of one detainee (a man) as a result of torture, the inhumane conditions of detention and/or denial of necessary medical care,” the report read, referring to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The UN agency also documented 864 cases of arbitrary detention by Russian troops, many of which also amount to enforced disappearances.
It also reported the detention of 260 civilians “based on their perceived political views or other legitimate exercise of freedom of expression.”
The actual number of cases may vary considering that Russia did not provide the OHCHR with any access to conflict-related detainees, despite repeated requests, the UN agency said.
More than 90 percent of the reported cases described being subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence.
“Such treatment appeared to have been carried out in order to force the victims to confess to having provided assistance to the Ukrainian armed forces, to force them to cooperate with the occupation authorities, or to intimidate those considered to hold pro-Ukrainian views,” the statement says. report.
Ukrainian security forces have also been found guilty of illegally detaining at least 75 people, mostly suspected of conflict-related criminal offences. They also held 65 civilians incommunicado to extract confessions.
“Fifty-seven percent of the detainees interviewed described having been subjected to torture and ill-treatment by Ukraine, predominantly in unofficial places of detention and, to a lesser extent, in pre-trial detention centers,” it said.
OHCHR also expressed concern about the “vague and overly broad” wording of a law introduced in Ukraine in March last year establishing the criminal liability of collaborators.
Under this law, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine opened more than 5,400 criminal proceedings resulting in 500 guilty verdicts.
“The vagueness and overly broad terminology of the legal provisions raise concerns regarding the principle of legality and have led to arbitrary detentions in several cases,” the UN agency said.
Ukraine has so far sentenced 23 Russians, the OHCHR said, adding that it was not aware of any criminal proceedings launched against Ukrainians involved in arbitrary detention or enforced disappearances.