UN accuses Ukrainian authorities and rebels of torture

3rd June 2016, Comments 0 comments

The United Nations on Friday accused both the Ukrainian authorities and pro-Russian rebels of torturing fighters and their sympathisers captured in the separatist east.

The condemnation from the world governing body came with violence once again flaring after a period of relative calm in the 25-month war.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said 9,371 people have been killed and 21,532 wounded since the revolt against the pro-Western government in Kiev began in Ukraine's industrial heartland in April 2014.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of plotting and backing the conflict in order to keep its former Soviet neighbour in its historic sphere of influence.

Moscow denies the charges and accuses the United States of orchestrating three months of bloody protests that brought down Ukraine's Russian-backed administration in February 2014.

The latest update on the human rights situation in the European Union's backyard came nine days after a UN torture prevention group suspended a visit to Ukraine because it was denied access to requested government detention sites.

"Enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment remain deeply entrenched practices, both in the territories controlled by the armed groups and in the territories controlled by the government," the report said.

Yet much of the criticism in the 53-page study was directed against the Kiev authorities and its SBU security service.

"Individuals detained by Ukrainian authorities in connection with the armed conflict have been tortured and ill-treated, and continue to face systematic violations of their due process and fair trial rights," the report said.

It added that "Ukrainian authorities have often run afoul of the principle of nondiscrimination through adopting policies that distinguish, exclude, and restrict access to fundamental freedoms and socio-economic rights to persons living in the conflict-affected area."

The OHCHR accused the self-declared leaders of the separatist Donetsk and Lugansk regions of undermining the human rights of the estimated 2.7 million people living under their control.

"They have imposed an arbitrary system of rules, established a network of places of deprivation of liberty where detainees are tortured and ill-treated, and cracked down on dissent," the UN report said.

There was no immediate response to the accusations from Kiev or the insurgents.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was due to brief reporters later Friday.

© 2016 AFP

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