The High Commissioner told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that his office (OHCHR) has documented the arbitrary detention of more than 900 civilians between 24 February 2022 and 23 May of this year.
He added that Russia does not provide access to detention facilities, “which inevitably leads to undercounting”. The summary execution of 77 civilians in detention was also documented, along with widespread torture and ill-treatment including sexual violence by Russian security personnel.
‘Concrete steps’ needed by Russia
“These findings are shocking”, he told the delegates. “They call for concrete steps by the Russian Federation to teach and ensure that their Russian personnel comply with international human rights and humanitarian law.”
The UN rights chief also presented a report on human rights violations in Crimea, which Russia has occupied since 2014, as well as the Russian-occupied areas of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
In addition to arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture, the findings included forced displacement of the civilian population and “widespread” violations of freedom of opinion and expression.
Local officials, humanitarian volunteers, priests, teachers, and others – more than a quarter of those held by Russia – were transferred without information being given to their families. Mr. Türk said that there are many documented cases of civilians being used as “human shields”, trying to prevent an attack.
He outlined other abuses such as the forced recruitment of about 2,500 men from Crimea, while 112 people were prosecuted for so-called draft evasion, in 2022.
All rights reserved
The denial of the rights to due process and a fair trial is “a systemic issue” in Crimea, with 16 documented cases in which courts have convicted Ukrainians after trials that disregarded guarantees in a fair trial.
Accountability for violations and abuses in general, “continues to be seen in its absence”, with no ongoing investigation being carried out in Russia, to his knowledge, said the High Commissioner.
The rights chief said he was also deeply concerned by a recent Russian parliamentary law that freed perpetrators of war crimes and other international violations in occupied Ukraine, even which domestic liability.
“The issues outlined in our reports seriously harm the human rights of Ukrainians and must be dealt with urgently.”
He concluded that the only solution “to this great tragedy” is for everyone who has influence to work towards a just peace in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.