Ukraine

The situation of human rights in Ukraine in the context of the armed attack by the Russian Federation, 24 February to 15 May 2022 [EN/UK]

Attachments

I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

  1. 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 have occurred in the course of the ongoing armed attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. It covers the period from 24 February 2022 until 15 May 2022 and is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.1 2. In the morning of 24 February, the Russian Federation launched an armed attack against Ukraine.2 The armed attack and associated hostilities have led to a grave deterioration in the human rights situation across the country.

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

  3. As a result of hostilities, civilian infrastructure and housing have been severely impacted. OHCHR recorded damage or destruction to 182 medical facilities and 230 educational facilities as a result of attacks. The attacks also endangered the lives of civilians and infringed on the enjoyment of other human rights, including the rights to health, work, education and housing.

  4. Hostilities have also had a severe negative impact on people and groups in situations of vulnerability, including persons with disabilities and older persons. OHCHR has found that many of them were not able to access bomb shelters or quickly evacuate and had to rely on the assistance of their family members and others, when such assistance was even available.

  5. The intensive and wide-scale hostilities have caused mass displacement of the civilian population, with grave implications for the enjoyment of their human rights, including economic and social rights. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that over 6.2 million persons had fled the country by 15 May, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicated that over 8 million were internally displaced.3 OHCHR also has concerns that the volatile security situation and other factors are restricting freedom of movement to and from regions occupied by Russian armed forces or affiliated armed groups, reducing civilians’ access to medical assistance, social protection and other basic services in Government-controlled territory. OHCHR has received reports that people attempting to leave Kherson, for example, have been denied permission to exit the region at checkpoints.

  6. OHCHR monitored the processes of evacuating civilians from Mariupol towards Government-controlled territory, or towards territory controlled by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups and further towards the Russian Federation. OHCHR is concerned about the manner in which the ‘filtration’ process, which evacuees are obliged to go through when passing Russian armed forces’ checkpoints, is carried out.8. The armed conflict has led to a wide range of human rights violations of both civilians and combatants, including the rights to life, liberty and security of persons.
    OHCHR verified numerous allegations of killings and summary executions, of arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, of torture and ill-treatment, and of conflict-related sexual violence.

  7. 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 in late February and March. In Bucha alone (Kyiv region), OHCHR documented the unlawful killings, including summary executions, of at least 50 civilians. Most victims were men, but there were also women and children. As the recovery, exhumation and identification of mortal remains is not yet over, the scale is yet to be fully assessed.

  8. OHCHR is also concerned about the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of representatives of local authorities, journalists, civil society activists and other civilians by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.
    OHCHR documented 248 cases of arbitrary detention (214 men and 33 women, 1 boy), some of which may amount to enforced disappearance, attributed to Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups. Among those 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 of people suspected of providing support to Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.

  9. OHCHR documented numerous cases of the widespread use of extrajudicial punishment against individuals alleged to be marauders, thieves, bootleggers, fake volunteers (fraudsters), drug dealers 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.

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

  11. The treatment of prisoners of war by the parties also raised serious concerns. OHCHR viewed an abundance of videos publicly available online depicting interrogation, intimidation, insults, humiliation, ill-treatment, torture and summary executions of prisoners of war on both sides. It has also received numerous other allegations of torture of prisoners of war by both sides, including through 44 interviews with prisoners of war. As of 15 May, OHCHR still had no reliable information about the exact numbers of prisoners of war on both sides.

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