Torture and inhumane treatment of Ukrainian civilians and prisoners of war by the Russian authorities cannot be assessed as an accident, but rather as an organized part of state policy to instill fear.

This was emphasized by the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Alice Jill Edwards, at a press conference in Kyiv, reports an Ukrinform correspondent.

Speaking about torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, she found that the number of reports of torture and other inhuman acts by the Russian authorities against civilians and prisoners of war is constantly increasing.

“In my opinion these grievous acts cannot be assessed as being random or incidental but rather an orchestrated part of state policy designed to instill fear, to intimidate, to punish or to extract information and confessions. I base this analysis on the scale of the allegations as well as the methods, purposes and targets of those different forms of torture,” Edwards noted.

The Special Rapporteur noted that she had heard accounts of electrocution torture, beatings, mock executions and drownings, having to hold various positions for long periods of time, threats of rape or murder, and various routines that were actually attempts to mock and humiliate the detainees. Ukrainian civilians testified about being held in cramped basements, and she also documented the weight loss of one serviceman from 100 to 55 kilograms during nine months of captivity.

Several victims told Edwards that they lost consciousness from beatings and electrocution, as well as suffered memory loss as a result of their experience in custody.

She informed that the testimonies had been collected from people from Mariupol, Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson regions.

The special rapporteur also welcomed the support and rehabilitation programs by the Ukrainian government and called impressive the work of the prosecutor’s office and non-governmental organizations in communicating with victims and investigating crimes. Following meetings with the government of Ukraine and international organizations, she noted that she was informed about the lack of criminal experts and persons qualified to provide psychological assistance, due to the surge in cases.

Edwards will file a full report of the visit with more detailed analysis and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in March.

Special rapporteurs are part of the special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Experts on special procedures work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN employees and do not receive a salary for their job. They are independent of any government or organization.


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