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UN expert: Russia systematically uses torture in occupied parts of Ukraine

Torture by Russian forces in occupied Ukrainian territories is systematic and organized, not random, according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Jill Edwards.
UN Expert: Russia systematically uses torture in occupied parts of Ukraine
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Jill Edwards. Photo: Nexta via X/Twitter
UN expert: Russia systematically uses torture in occupied parts of Ukraine

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Alice Jill Edwards analyzed information about torture in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine and concluded that torture is being carried out systematically, indicating a “conscious policy.” Edwards drew this conclusion following her visit to Ukraine in September 2023.

“The volume of credible allegations of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment indicates that torture is part of Russia’s military policy,” Edwards stated at the UN Human Rights Council, according to BBC Russian. “These grave crimes do not appear to be random or accidental.”

She cited data from the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, which has 103,000 cases related to war crimes and crimes against humanity, 90% of which involve torture allegations. Edwards said she personally examined dozens of cases where Russian forces are accused of abuse, consistently showing torture was carried out “in an organized and systematic manner.”

The UN rapporteur was denied entry to Russia. Moscow denies torture has occurred during the war in Ukraine.

Edwards also addressed whether torture is occurring on the Ukrainian side. The conditions for Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine suggest “Ukrainian authorities are making sincere efforts to treat them with respect.”

She visited a correctional facility in Lviv holding Ukrainian citizens accused of collaborationism, receiving “a number of allegations of ill-treatment by Ukrainian officials,” mainly during apprehension, arrest and transport. She called on Kyiv to investigate these claims.

Edwards and other special rapporteurs are independent human rights experts appointed by, but not representing, the UN.

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