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NewsTürk: Accountability needed for ‘shocking’ violations by Russian forces in Ukraine

Türk: Accountability needed for ‘shocking’ violations by Russian forces in Ukraine

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The High Commissioner told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that his office (OHCHR) had documented the arbitrary detention of more than 900 civilians between 24 February 2022 and 23 May this year.

He added that that Russia gave no access to places of detention, “which leads inevitably to undercounting”. The summary executions of 77 civilians in detention were also documented, along with widespread torture and ill-treatment including sexual violence by Russian security personnel.

‘Concrete measures’ needed by Russia

“These findings are shocking”, he told delegates. “They call for concrete measures by the Russian Federation to instruct and ensure their Russian personnel comply with international human rights and humanitarian law.”

The UN rights chief also presented a report on human rights violations in Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, as well as Russian-occupied areas of the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In addition to arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture, the findings included forced population transfers of civilians and “extensive” violations of the freedom of opinion and expression. 

Local officials, humanitarian volunteers, priests, teachers, among others – more than a quarter of those held by Russia – were transferred without any information provided to their families. Mr. Türk said there had been several cases documented of civilians being used as “human shields”, attempting to deter attack.

He outlined other abuses such as the forced conscription of around 2,500 men from Crimea, while 112 people were prosecuted for so-called draft evasion, in 2022. 

Rights denied

Denial of the rights to due process and fair trial are “a systemic issue” in Crimea, with 16 cases documented where courts convicted Ukrainians following proceedings that disregarded fair trial guarantees.

Accountability for violations and abuses overall, “continues to be conspicuous by its absence”, with no ongoing investigation being carried out by Russia, to his knowledge, said the High Commissioner.

The rights chief said he was also deeply concerned over a recent Russian parliamentary law exempting perpetrators of war crimes and other international offences in occupied Ukraine, of any domestic liability.

‘Immense tragedy’

“The issues outlined in our reports are profoundly harmful to the human rights of Ukrainians and must be addressed with urgency.”

He concluded that the only solution “to this immense tragedy” was for everyone with influence to work towards a just peace in line with the UN Charter and international law.

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