Tags: Urkaine | Russia | crisis | rights

'War Crimes' Rampant in Ukraine: Amnesty

Friday, 22 May 2015 06:26 AM

Amnesty International on Friday accused Ukrainian forces of torture and pro-Russian rebels of even more serious war crimes such as summary executions committed both before and after a February truce deal.

The damning report adds to a growing string of independent findings suggesting that Europe is witnessing the most brutal conflict on its outer border since the 1990s Balkans crises.

"Former prisoners described being beaten until their bones broke, tortured with electric shocks, kicked, stabbed, hung from the ceiling, deprived of sleep for days, threatened with death, denied urgent medical care and subjected to mock executions," the global human rights organization said in a new report.

Almost daily exchanges of loosely-aimed heavy weapons have killed at least 6,250 people and left nearly two million homeless since the conflict broke out 13 months ago.

Much of the fighting on the pro-Kiev side is being waged by irregular forces who follow their own nationalist commanders and appear to pay little attention to orders from the Ukrainian general staff.

Kiev and the West accuse the rebels on the other side of being supported by Russian special forces who provide and often operate long-range rocket systems that have damaged thousands of homes across Ukraine's industrial east.

Both sides have been condemned for indiscriminate bombings.

A joint investigation conducted by Human Rights Watch and The New York Times released in October found several credible cases of Ukrainian forces shelling densely-packed cities with cluster munitions -- a highly destructive weapon banned by much of the world.

Friday's Amnesty report focused on explosive prisoner abuse allegations at the heart of a vicious public relations battle between Russian state television and Ukraine's predominantly pro-Western press.

Its researchers said that 32 of the 33 former detainees interviewed from both sides of the conflict described "severe beatings or other serious abuse".

"Accounts of detainee torture are as commonplace as they are shocking," Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia Program director John Dalhuisen said.

"Prisoners on both sides have been beaten and subjected to mock executions," said Dalhuisen. "We have also documented summary killings of those held by separatist groups. It is a war crime to torture or deliberately kill captives taken during conflict."

Ukraine's National Security Service said it was "open for dialogue" and ready to meet Amnesty representatives in order to improve the rights record of its troops.

 

 

Amnesty said it had identified three recent cases in which the rebels executed at least eight pro-Kiev fighters.

"Most of the worst abuses take place in informal places of detention. This typically occurs during the initial days of captivity, and groups outside the official or de facto chain of command tend to be especially violent and lawless," the report said.

One reported episode involved a Ukrainian soldier who was wounded during Kiev's failed defence of the highly-contested airport sprawled on the outskirts of the rebels' de facto capital Donetsk.

Insurgents blew up the hub on January 20 and ordered surviving members of the government contingent to load themselves onto rebel trucks. A 34-year-old soldier named Andriy Gavrilyuk had his legs crushed during the explosion and could not properly move.

"There were no stretchers, no nothing, so they couldn't carry him (Gavrilyuk) up. Seconds later I heard three shots," a fellow soldier told Amnesty.

The report said a video from the airport posted on YouTube four days later showed Gavrilyuk lying dead with "a clear gunshot wound to the middle of his forehead".

 

 

Russia casts the pro-EU uprising in Ukraine that last year ousted a Moscow-backed president and sparked the current war as having been led by armed "fascists" from the Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) paramilitary group.

Amnesty said "Right Sector members systematically extorted money from people in their custody and collected ransoms from the prisoners' relatives."

Its research discovered that the far-right fighters crammed prisoners into an overcrowded basement cell near the peaceful government-controlled city of Dnipropetrovsk.

"People had to use plastic bags to collect their urine and excrement, and they had no means of washing or showering. Some prisoners were brought outside to work; others remained inside all of the time," the report said.

The "evidence appears credible and merits a full criminal investigation," the report concluded.

© AFP 2017

 
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Amnesty International on Friday accused Ukrainian forces of torture and pro-Russian rebels of even more serious war crimes such as summary executions committed both before and after a February truce deal.
Urkaine, Russia, crisis, rights
696
2015-26-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 06:26 AM
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