OHCHR interviewed 56 detainees released by the self-proclaimed ‘republics’ (45 men, including one military, and 11 women). The most common ‘charges’ against them were ‘espionage’, ‘incitement of hatred’, ‘storage of explosives’, ‘terrorist act’, ‘assistance to terrorist activity’, and ‘public calls for extremist activities’ in ‘Donetsk people’s republic’, and ‘creation of a criminal organisation’, ‘illegal acquisition and storage of weapons and ammunition’, ‘state treason’, and ‘illegal acquisition of information comprising state secrets’ in ‘Luhansk people’s republic’.
Though individual testimonies varied, OHCHR identified and further confirmed a consistent pattern of arbitrary detention, often amounting to enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees in both self-proclaimed ‘republics’. OHCHR found that torture and ill-treatment of detainees was systematic during the initial stage of detention (which could last up to a year), with the risk for detainees to be subjected to torture and ill-treatment considerably decreasing after the ‘confession’ and especially after completion of ‘pre-trial investigations’.
Individuals interviewed by OHCHR had usually been apprehended by armed men wearing no insignia and in balaclavas who did not identify themselves. In most cases, they were not told why they were being detained. Upon apprehension or while being transported to their first place of detention, many detainees were blindfolded and/or handcuffed. Some were beaten or threatened with violence. The first place of detention was usually either the premises of the ‘ministry of state security’ (in Donetsk or Luhansk) or ‘Izoliatsiia’ detention facility (in Donetsk).
The majority of interviewed individuals were initially detained under ‘administrative arrest’ (in ‘Donetsk people’s republic’) or ‘preventive arrest’ (in ‘Luhansk people’s republic’), and held incommunicado without access to a lawyer. Some detainees were not informed about the reasons of their detention or ‘charges’ against them for a prolonged period. Relatives of those detained who enquired about their whereabouts were not provided with any information beyond confirmation, in a few instances, that the person was indeed detained.
In most cases, ‘investigative actions’ commenced immediately after the apprehension, with a few exceptions when detainees spent days or weeks in custody before any action was taken. ‘Investigative actions’ comprised mostly of interrogations either at the ‘ministry of state security’ or in the ‘Izoliatsiia’ detention facility (in Donetsk) or at the ‘ministry of state security’ (in Luhansk) by individuals who presented themselves as ‘officers’ of the ‘ministry of state security’ or did not identify themselves at all. Several detainees believed Russian "FSB officers” took part in interrogations, and some perceived them to be in a position of authority.
In most documented cases, the interrogators began by threatening detainees with violence or rape and made threats against their families if they refused to confess or otherwise cooperate with the ‘investigation’. Such threats were often accompanied by blows to the body or slaps to the face.
Fifty-two out of the 56 individuals interviewed by OHCHR reported having been subjected to torture or ill-treatment, sometimes including sexual violence, mostly during the interrogations, in order to extract confessions or information, in most cases, about working for the SBU. The frequency, intensity and length of the torture and ill-treatment varied considerably, however they usually continued until a detainee agreed to confess (orally, in writing or on video) or to provide information. Methods of torture and ill-treatment included beatings, electric shocks, asphyxiation (wet and dry), sexual violence, positional torture, removal of body parts (nails and teeth), deprivation of water, food, sleep or access to a toilet, mock executions, threats of violence or death and threats of harm to family. Testimony of the released detainees indicate that torture and ill-treatment was also carried out for punitive purposes and to humiliate and intimidate, including by personnel of some detention facilities. OHCHR identified a continuum of torture and ill-treatment that was often exacerbated by inhumane detention conditions, in particular in the ‘Izoliatsiia’ detention facility.
Quelle: OHCHR Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine from 16 November 2019 to 15 February 2020, 12.03.2020, Externer Link: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/UA/29thReportUkraine_EN.pdf.