The UN deputy human rights chief on Friday said that torture and ill-treatment of detainees happen daily in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine.
Nada Al-Nashif presented a report at the 47th session of the Human Rights Council on arbitrary detention, torture in eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2021.
The report said it aims to promote the eradication of current practices of conflict-related arbitrary detention, torture, and ill-treatment.
The report is based on the findings of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, known as HRMMU.
It refers to “arbitrary detention, including secret and incommunicado detention, torture, and ill-treatment by armed groups and other actors in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed ‘republics.'”
Nashif called for “accountability for these violations, including remedy and reparation to the victims” in eastern Ukraine and in occupied Crimea.
Ukraine is seeking support from the EU and NATO alliance in the conflict that has been brewing between government forces and pro-Russian separatists for seven years in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
Thousands of victims
“While we can count victims in the thousands, perpetrators who have been brought to account only number in the dozens,” Nashif said.
She said her office estimates the total number of conflict-related detentions in Ukraine from April 14, 2014, to April 30, 2021, as between 7,900 and 8,700.
Men comprise approximately 85% and women 15% of detainees, the report said, adding some 3,600-4,000 were detained by Kyiv government actors, while 4,300-4,700 by armed groups and other actors in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed “republics.”
“From late 2016, the use of unofficial places of detention to hold conflict-related detainees for longer periods, lasting more than a few days, substantially decreased,” Nashif said.
“The prevalence of torture and ill-treatment was highest at the initial stages of the conflict and has decreased over time,” she added.
Male detainees have been detained incommunicado there for periods between two days to over a year.
Citing an example, she said that in 2016, a man spent eight months incommunicado without “charges” or orders from a court.
The Human Rights Office is also aware of 10 women detained for periods between two hours and two months.
Russian forces entered Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with Russian President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Turkey and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal, as does the EU, which imposed sanctions on Russia for the seizure.