The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights reports on serious violations of human rights and IHL in Ukraine. Report of the Monitoring Initiative

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched the Ukraine Monitoring Initiative (UMI) after the Russian invasion in February 2022. This is the fourth interim report on violations committed, covering the events of the armed conflict from June to November 2023 and focusing on issues related to IMU’s monitoring visits and remote monitoring data. 

The organization conducted 5 monitoring visits and 87 personal interviews among 52 women and 39 men. They used their own methodology, focusing on human rights, psychological trauma and the principle of «do no harm».

The report finds that Russia’s use of explosive weapons in Ukraine has resulted in massive civilian casualties and damage to the infrastructure. However, the Ukrainian armed forces have also caused destruction in the occupied territories, albeit on a much smaller scale. One of the most large-scale and destructive events was the breach of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, which led to the deaths and displacement of thousands of people, with serious humanitarian and environmental consequences. 

The number of attacks on humanitarian operations is increasing, resulting in the deaths of workers and complicating the provision of aid. The report highlights incidents of torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war, accusations of «terrorism» and the forced displacement of children. It also draws attention to the unclear nature of Ukrainian legislation, which becomes a problem in the war context.

ODIHR highlights the systematic use of torture by the Russian Federation in the occupied territories of Ukraine, including physical and sexual violence. Torture was used during interrogations to obtain information and to punish victims, and, unfortunately, the report contains evidence of some people being tortured to death. The organization also received information about cases of illegal transfer of civilians from the occupied territories. Some witnesses reported shelling of people while they were trying to escape. The occupying authorities have actively used coercive measures to force people into changing their citizenship to Russian, which constitutes a gross violation of the international humanitarian law.

ODIHR encourages both parties of the conflict to comply with international standards, prevent civilian casualties and investigate violations of international law. The organization also calls on Russia to cease the use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas, respect the rights of prisoners of war, and ensure respect for the rights of Ukrainian citizens. It also urges Ukraine to hold fair trials, harmonize legislation and avoid uncertainty in the area of «collaboration».

The Center for Civil Liberties contributed to the work of the Monitoring Initiative in Ukraine by providing information and analytical support.

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