The human rights situation in Ukraine in the context of the armed attack by the Russian Federation, from February 24 to May 15, 2022 – Ukraine

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I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  • This report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) covers violations of international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law that occurred during the ongoing armed attack on the Russian Federation versus Ukraine. It covers the period from 24 February 2022 to 15 May 2022 and is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine1. 2. On the morning of February 24, the Russian Federation launched an armed attack against Ukraine2. The armed attack and associated hostilities have led to a serious deterioration of the human rights situation throughout the country.

  • During the reporting period, OHCHR recorded a total of 8,368 civilian casualties, including 3,924 killed and 4,444 injured. At least 95 girls, 98 boys, 985 women, 1,519 men and 1,227 people whose sex is still unknown were killed from February 24 to May 15, and at least 104 girls, 126 boys, 604 women, 907 men and 2 703 people whose gender is still unknown were injured. However, the actual number of victims is much higher, as these figures only include cases that OHCHR has been able to fully verify.

  • As a result of the hostilities, civilian infrastructure and housing were seriously affected. OHCHR recorded damage or destruction to 182 medical facilities and 230 educational institutions as a result of attacks. The attacks also endangered the lives of civilians and undermined the enjoyment of other human rights, including the rights to health, work, education and housing.

  • The hostilities have also had serious negative impacts on individuals and groups in vulnerable situations, including people with disabilities and the elderly.
    OHCHR found that many of them were unable to access bomb shelters or had to quickly evacuate and had to rely on help from family members and others, even as a such assistance was available.

  • The intensive and large-scale hostilities have caused massive displacements of the civilian population, with serious consequences for the enjoyment of their fundamental rights, including economic and social rights. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that more than 6.2 million people had fled the country as of May 15, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that more than 8 million were internally displaced persons.3 the security situation and other factors restrict freedom of movement to and from areas occupied by the Russian armed forces or affiliated armed groups, reducing civilians’ access to medical assistance , social protection and other basic services in the territory controlled by the government. OHCHR has received reports that people attempting to leave Kherson, for example, have been denied permission to leave the area at checkpoints.

  • OHCHR monitored the evacuation processes of civilians from Mariupol to territory controlled by the Government, or to territory controlled by the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups, and then to the Russian Federation. OHCHR is concerned about the manner in which the “filtration” process is carried out, which evacuees are obliged to follow when passing through Russian armed forces checkpoints.8. The armed conflict has resulted in a wide range of violations of the human rights of civilians and combatants, including the rights to life, liberty and security of person.
    OHCHR has verified numerous allegations of murders and summary executions, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related sexual violence.

  • OHCHR has documented and verified allegations of unlawful killings, including summary executions of civilians in more than 30 settlements in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, committed while these territories were under the control of Russian armed forces late February and March. In Bucha (Kyiv region) alone, OHCHR has documented the unlawful killings, including summary executions, of at least 50 civilians. Most of the victims were men, but there were also women and children. As the recovery, exhumation and identification of the mortal remains have not yet been completed, the extent has not yet been fully assessed.

  • OHCHR is also concerned about the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of local government officials, journalists, civil society activists and other civilians by the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.
    OHCHR has documented 248 cases of arbitrary detention (214 men and 33 women, 1 boy), some of which may amount to enforced disappearance, attributed to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups. Of these cases, OHCHR recorded that six victims (one woman and five men) were eventually found dead. OHCHR also documented 12 cases of enforced disappearance (11 men and 1 woman) by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies of persons suspected of providing support to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.

  • OHCHR has documented numerous cases of the widespread use of extrajudicial sanctions against individuals suspected of being marauders, thieves, smugglers, bogus volunteers (fraudsters), drug traffickers and curfew violators. During the reporting period, OHCHR documented 89 such cases (80 men and 9 women) in territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine and 3 cases in territory controlled by the Russian Federation and affiliated armed groups.

  • OHCHR is also looking into growing allegations of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV), although it remains difficult to properly assess the extent of violations, as survivors are often unwilling or unable to be interviewed. Many referral pathways are not functional and law enforcement authorities have limited capacity to deal with CRSV cases. OHCHR has verified 23 cases of CRSV, mostly attributable to the Russian armed forces. They performed in different regions of Ukraine, including Kyiv and Chernihiv regions. Women and girls make up the majority of victims, with rape, including gang rape, being the most common form of CRSV. A few cases relate to acts such as forced public nudity, where the victims (male and female) were alleged to have broken the law both in government-controlled territory of Ukraine and in territory controlled by the Russian armed forces.

  • The treatment of prisoners of war by the parties has also raised serious concerns. OHCHR has viewed a multitude of publicly available videos online depicting interrogations, intimidation, insults, humiliations, ill-treatment, torture and summary executions of prisoners of war on both sides. He also received numerous other allegations of POW torture from both sides, including through 44 interviews with POWs. As of May 15, the OHCHR still did not have reliable information on the exact number of prisoners of war on either side.

  • OHCHR is alarmed by the security risks faced by journalists and media professionals in Ukraine. OHCHR documented 16 cases of deaths of journalists and media workers during the hostilities and recorded 10 other cases of injured journalists (21 men and 5 women), including four cases where survivors said they were targeted because of their status as journalists. Additionally, many human rights defenders (HRDs) have been unable to carry out their work due to ongoing hostilities and large-scale displacements, which in turn have deprived vulnerable groups of their support. There are growing concerns about possible reprisals and reprisals against HRDs in areas controlled by the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.


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