Tags: Ukraine | Russia | crisis | UN | rights

UN Accuses Ukraine Forces, Pro-Russia Rebels of 'Torture'

Monday, 15 Dec 2014 06:16 AM

The United Nations on Monday released a damning report accusing Ukranian forces and Russian-backed rebels of torturing and indiscriminately shelling civilians in the bloody conflict in the separatist east.

The U.N. estimates the eight-month conflict has killed at least 4,634 and wounded 10,234 people — although Monday's survey said "the actual numbers of casualties is likely to be considerably higher."

And it said the lives of 5.2 million residents living in the devastated region was deteriorating further with the onset of winter and a complete breakdown of local infrastructure that left homes without water or heat.

The "situation is becoming extremely dire for the population, particularly older persons, children and people in institutional care, many of whom are on the brink of survival," the United Nations' human rights office said.

But the 27-page U.N. study was careful to assign blame for the humanitarian crisis on both the pro-Western government in Kiev and the mostly Russian-speaking insurgents who rose up in April against its rule.

"The efforts of the government to safeguard the territorial integrity of Ukraine and restore law and order in the conflict zone have been accompanied by arbitrary detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances of people suspected of 'separatism and terrorism,'" the report said.

"Most of such human rights violations appear to have been perpetrated by certain voluntary battalions or by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU)."

The United Nations said the guerrillas in turn were guilty of creating a criminal state in parts of the industrial regions of Lugansk and Donetsk they control with the help of "foreign fighters" — a reference to Russian crack troops whose presence Moscow denies.

"As law and order increasingly broke down, so more human rights abuses, such as killings, torture, abduction for ransom and forced labor, started to be committed by members of armed groups, supported by increasing numbers of foreign fighters," said the report.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko — elected in a snap May ballot that followed the downfall after months of street protests of a Moscow-backed leadership — has promised to examine allegations of abuses by his troops.

But rights groups believe that some of the gravest crimes are being committed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalist volunteers who joined the fighting after taking an active part in last winter's popular uprising in Kiev.

Moscow also accuses the SBU — Ukraine's chief successor to the Soviet-era KGB — of abducting rebel sympathizers and detaining without charges Russian reporters covering the war.

The U.N. report also pointed to "limited progress" by Kiev in investigating more than 300 cases of indiscriminate shelling of residential areas identified by foreign monitors since the start of the year.

© AFP 2017

 
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The United Nations on Monday released a damning report accusing Ukranian forces and Russian-backed rebels of torturing and indiscriminately shelling civilians in the bloody conflict in the separatist east.
Ukraine, Russia, crisis, UN, rights
434
2014-16-15
Monday, 15 Dec 2014 06:16 AM
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