The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is condemning pervasive arbitrary detention and torture by both government and Russian-backed separatists in the seven-year eastern Ukraine conflict. The condemnation comes in a report submitted Friday to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
The analysis by the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine finds around 4,000 of those detained have been subjected to torture or ill-treatment in both government and rebel-controlled territories over the past seven years. The analysis is based on over 1,300 conflict-related cases since the war in the breakaway eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk began in 2014.
Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif says the prevalence of the torture and ill-treatment was highest at the initial stages of the conflict and has since decreased.
“In government-controlled territory, in the early stages of the conflict, cases of arbitrary detention included enforced disappearances, detentions without court warrants, and confinement in unofficial places of detention, often secret and incommunicado. … In armed group-controlled territory, detention during the initial stages of the conflict lacked any semblance of legal process and often amounted to enforced disappearance,” she said.
The report says cases of arbitrary detention in government-controlled territory continues to this day but have substantially decreased. On the other hand, Al-Nashif notes these practices persist to a high degree in the eastern separatist areas.
“We are gravely concerned that egregious violations of torture and ill-treatment documented in the ‘Izoliatsiia’ facility in Donetsk, as well as in other places of detention in territory controlled by the self-proclaimed republics, continue on a daily basis, and are carried out systematically. These violations must stop," she said.
Al-Nashif is calling for independent monitors to be allowed access to places of detention and for perpetrators of human rights violations on both sides of the contact line to be held accountable.