Since 2014 in Ukraine Matilda Bogner, head of the current UN human rights monitoring mission, condemned the dramatic increase in human rights violations since Russia launched a large-scale invasion in February. Speaking to reporters from Odessa, she detailed the deaths of thousands of civilians, hundreds of arbitrary detentions and documented cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war.
If it were proven in a court of law that “a prisoner of war was tortured and ill-treated while he was in custody, it would be a war crime,” she said.
Bogner said her team had gathered evidence that Russian forces and groups affiliated with them arbitrarily detained or contributed to the disappearance of 416 people in territories they occupied or controlled. “Of them, 16 were found dead, 166 were released,” she said.
The investigative team also documented 51 cases of arbitrary arrest and another 30 cases that may amount to enforced disappearance by Ukrainian law enforcement authorities, Bogner added.
The mission had “unimpeded access” to detention facilities in Ukrainian-controlled territories, but Russia did not grant access to prisoners of war held on its territory or in areas under its control. “This is even more worrying because we have documented that prisoners of war under the authority of the Russian Federation (…) have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, and in some places of detention they lack adequate food, water, health care and sanitation,” she said. .
Ms Bogner described a “welcome process” in which new detainees were herded down a corridor flanked by armed guards who brutally beat the captives.
Ms Bogner expressed deep concern about the situation in the Olenivka colony, where she said prisoners of war were reportedly suffering from infectious diseases, including hepatitis A and tuberculosis.
The group also documented some cases of torture and ill-treatment of Russian POWs held by Ukrainians, mostly during their capture and transport to prison camps.
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