News ID: 109026
Publish Date : 15 November 2022 - 20:48

UN: Prisoners Tortured by Both Sides in Ukraine War

GENEVA (AFP) -- Prisoners held by both sides in Russia’s war in Ukraine have been subjected to torture, including beatings, electric shocks, and humiliating treatment while naked, UN investigators said Tuesday.
Under international law, “the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is absolute, even -- indeed especially -- in times of armed conflict,” Matilda Bogner, head of the UN Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, told reporters in Geneva.
She lamented that neither side in the war appeared to be adhering fully to that principle, although the abuse meted out by Russian captors was more “systematic”.
Speaking via video link from Kyiv, Bogner said the team of investigators, which has been present in Ukraine since 2014, had in recent months interviewed 159 prisoners of war -- all but 20 of them men -- held by Russia, and 175 PoWs -- all men -- held by Ukraine.
The “vast majority” of Ukrainian PoWs held by Russia described torture and ill-treatment, Bogner said, with the level of abuse often worse for those perceived to have been in positions of authority.
The investigators determined that some were beaten immediately upon capture, while many were then transported on overcrowded vehicles, sometimes lacking access to water or toilets for more than a day.
“Their hands were tied and eyes covered so tightly with duct tape that it left wounds on their wrists and faces,” Bogner said.
Upon arrival at some places of internment, the prisoners then faced so-called “admission procedures”, she said, including beatings, dog attacks, being stripped and put into stress positions.
Witnesses said that at least one prisoner of war died during this “welcome beating” at a penal colony near the eastern town of Olenivka in April, she said, adding that her team was investigating eight other alleged deaths at the same facility that month.
The investigators had identified three internment centers run by the Ukrainians where torture and ill-treatment occurred, she said, with Russian PoWs describing being punched and kicked in the face and body after surrendering, and during interrogations.
In some cases, they “were stabbed or given electric shocks with the TAPik military phone,” Bogner said.
Most concerning perhaps, the investigators had received “credible allegations of summary executions of persons hors de combat,” she said.