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UN rights office details latest abuses in Russia’s attack on Ukraine

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By Dan Peleschuk

KIEV (Reuters) – The United Nations human rights office said on Friday its investigators had confirmed thousands more civilian casualties in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including 21 people killed by Russian forces in executions or isolated strikes.

“A year after the Russian Federation launched a full-scale armed attack on Ukraine, hostilities continue to take a heavy toll on children, women and men across the country,” the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said. a new report.

It found that at least 5,987 civilians had been killed or injured between August 1, 2022 and January 31, 2023, a number it said was likely a gross underestimate because it only covered the cases which their investigators could verify.

Indiscriminate explosive weapons are responsible for large numbers of civilian casualties, the report said, and its figures showed that there were at least four times more civilian casualties in Ukrainian-held areas than in Russian-held areas.

A majority of the 133 cases of conflict-related sexual violence documented by OHCHR occurred in Russian-occupied territory, including during “so-called ‘filtration’ processes,” it said.

The Permanent Mission of Russia to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the findings.

Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations that its forces committed atrocities during the invasion, which it describes as a “military special operation”.

The report documents the disappearance or “arbitrary detention” of 214 Ukrainians in Russian-held areas and 91 such cases in areas controlled by the Ukrainian government. Most of those arrested by Ukraine are suspected collaborators, it said.

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Ukraine did not immediately comment on the report.

TORTURE

The report said OHCHR was “deeply concerned” by what it described as ill-treatment, torture and enforced disappearances of children by Russian forces, including the kidnapping of five teenage boys, all of whom were tortured.

The International Criminal Court last week issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the war crime of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The Kremlin called the move unacceptable and outrageous.

Russia has not hidden a program under which it has brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia, but presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children abandoned in the conflict zone.

A separate OHCHR report, also released on Friday, blamed both Russian and Ukrainian forces for the mistreatment of prisoners of war. The Ukrainian government has granted “full and confidential access” to the official detention centers.

It said it documented the summary executions of 15 Ukrainian and 25 Russian prisoners of war, which the agency said “could constitute war crimes,” but that the results were “significantly influenced by the extent and nature of access to detention facilities and prisoners of war.” . “.

The United Nations added that Russian POWs overall “were treated better, having once been held in transit and in permanent internment (sic) places”. It also said the Ukrainian authorities had “actively” addressed the United Nations’ concerns about the treatment of prisoners of war.

In both reports, OHCHR called on “all parties” to protect victims and punish perpetrators.

Moscow and Kiev did not immediately comment on the OHCHR report on prisoners of war.

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(This story has been refiled to add the full title of the Russian mission in paragraph 6.)

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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