RIA Novosti published an article under the heading "The UN accused Kyiv of disappearances and arbitrary detentions." It says :
“Since February 24 last year, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner (OHCHR) has recorded 91 cases of enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention of people by the Ukrainian security forces, said OHCHR head Volker Türk.
“My staff documented 91 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions by Ukrainian forces. Of the 73 victims we interviewed, 53 percent were subjected to torture or ill-treatment,” he said in his speech at the 52nd session of the UN Human Rights Council.
In addition, 24 cases of sexual violence were registered. Most of them, according to Türk, consisted of threats during the initial stages of detention, as well as forced public undressing.”
The High Commissioner did, in fact, provide this information in his speech. But for some reason, RIA Novosti drew attention to only one short fragment of his speech, and it is worth quoting it in full.
“The invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine threw us back to an archaic era — an era when the territory of a neighboring country could be attacked and taken away at will. When the identity and history of communities could be discarded and reality rewritten.
The UN Charter was supposed to put an end to such atavistic thinking. But today the nation is fighting for survival. After 13 months of the Russian Federation's war against Ukraine, gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have become shockingly commonplace. People across the country are facing enormous suffering and loss, deprivation, displacement and destruction. And the ongoing consequences of this war around the world, including for countries not involved in it, are enormous.
Using the strict methodology of my office, our staff has confirmed over 8,400 civilian deaths and over 14,000 injured civilians since February 24, 2022. These figures are just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the casualties occurred as a result of the use of large-caliber explosive devices by Russian troops in residential areas.
In the occupied territories of Ukraine, since February last year, we have recorded numerous summary executions and targeted attacks on civilians by the Russian armed forces, including affiliated armed groups such as the Wagner group. We also documented 621 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions.
Interviews with 89 civilians released from custody revealed that 91% of them were subjected to torture or ill-treatment by the Russian military, including through various forms of sexual violence. Five of the missing victims were underage boys, one only 14 years old. All five of these children were subjected to torture or ill-treatment.
Of the 109 documented cases of sexual violence by the Russian military, the majority took place in places of detention. Others, including rapes, were committed in areas controlled by Russian troops, mostly against women. Among the victims of rape are three girls under the age of 18.
During the same period, my staff documented 91 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions by Ukrainian security forces. Of the 73 victims we interviewed, 53% were subjected to torture or ill-treatment. 24 cases of sexual violence by the Ukrainian military were registered; most of them consisted of the threat of sexual violence during the initial stages of detention, as well as forced public undressing.
Ukrainian civilians were moved to the occupied territory or to the Russian Federation. Among them are children and adults placed in social institutions, as well as unaccompanied children living in areas of Ukraine occupied or temporarily controlled by Russian troops. These transfers may constitute violations of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits forcible transfer to occupied territory or deportation to any other country, regardless of their motives.
Two weeks ago, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry into Ukraine briefed the Human Rights Council in sobering detail on the serious violations of international law it had uncovered over the past year, including war crimes and even possible crimes against humanity. The Council is also aware that arrest warrants have been issued by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes related to the illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
Our staff interviewed more than 400 prisoners of war from both sides. Ukraine, to its credit, provided unhindered and confidential access to the places of internment. The Russian Federation, however, despite numerous requests, did not grant us access, which means that interviews with Ukrainian prisoners of war can only be conducted after their release. This lack of access also means that the number of cases should not be compared with each other.
More than 90% of the Ukrainian prisoners of war interviewed by my office said they had been tortured or ill-treated, especially in penitentiary institutions, including through so-called - this is a terrible expression - "welcome beatings" upon arrival; torture was also frequently used during detention. We recorded the death of five prisoners of war from wounds received during torture during internment. Food and access to medical care were severely inadequate. It is imperative that international observers and members of our human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine have unhindered access to all persons detained by Russian forces.
Almost half of the interviewed Russian prisoners of war indicated that they had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment. Most of these acts of torture reportedly took place shortly after the arrest. We have not found a consistent pattern of abuse in more permanent places of internment.
We documented a mass execution by Russian POWs of Ukrainian POWs shortly after their capture, with one victim severely mutilated before being killed. Ukrainian POWs captured during the battle were also frequently tortured or ill-treated, with at least one such POW dying within hours of being tortured. We also continue to collect and analyze information about the devastating incident in Yelenovka in July 2022, which killed at least 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
We have documented the extrajudicial execution by the Ukrainian armed forces of Russian prisoners of war immediately after their capture. We are aware of an ongoing investigation by the Ukrainian authorities, but to date we are not aware of any prosecutions.
International humanitarian law includes the minimum core values that, in the most dire of circumstances, preserve our humanity. Even in conditions of bloodshed of war, the norms of international humanitarian law protect the life and dignity of civilians, wounded and sick soldiers, and prisoners of war. No one can be above these laws. Civilians and key civilian infrastructure must not be attacked. Medical and humanitarian personnel must be allowed to work unhindered. It is forbidden to deliberately kill or injure an enemy who has surrendered or is no longer able to take part in hostilities. Fundamental human rights must be respected for prisoners of war. The use of weapons or tactics that could result in unnecessary death or undue suffering is prohibited. But these laws are violated on a daily basis - against a woman with a disability who cannot leave her house under heavy fire, against tens of thousands of people whose lives and bodies are torn apart, against prisoners of war who are tortured and deprived of medical care, against children growing in fear.
On behalf of many, I say that I will never forget the photograph of a dying pregnant woman being carried out on a stretcher from the bombed-out ruins of the Mariupol maternity hospital in March 2022.
All these victims are entitled to justice and a just peace.
The war between Russia and Ukraine continues to shock the whole world. Soaring prices for food, energy, fertilizer and other essential commodities have exacerbated tensions and inequalities in all regions. The worst global cost-of-living crisis in a generation is impacting the lives and livelihoods of an estimated 1.6 billion people. This has pushed more than 71 million people below the poverty line. This threatens the stability of many countries.
It is critical to the lives of tens of millions of people around the world that the Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to support global food security—much longer than the May 2023 period for which it is designed.
Nearly 37 years after the Chernobyl disaster, another Ukrainian nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye is still at enormous risk, which could affect millions of people inside and outside the country.
At a time when humanity is facing insurmountable existential problems, this destructive war is distracting us from the work of finding solutions - the work of ensuring our survival. This war defies any reasonable explanation. This madness must end, we must find peace in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.
My management, my colleagues, my teams will continue to do everything possible to track, document and report on the reality that hundreds of thousands of people on the ground are facing.”