Matilda Bogner, head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, said her team had interviewed 159 prisoners of war – or prisoners of war – both men and women, held by Russia and 175 male prisoners of war held by Ukraine over the past few months .
Ukraine gave the Mission access to Russian prisoners of war where they were being held. Russia did not do this, so interviews were conducted with Ukrainian POWs when they were released.
Beatings, dog attacks
Ukrainian prisoners of war have said they frequently faced prolonged beatings, threats, electric shocks and dog attacks. Nine people are said to have died in such attacks in April this year.
Female POWs told interviewers that they were not subjected to physical violence but described being mentally tormented by the screams of male POWs being tortured in nearby cells. Both male and female prisoners reported having been subjected to various forms of sexual violence.
The vast majority of Ukrainian prisoners interviewed said they had been tortured and ill-treated during their detention.
They said their treatment was used not only to compel them to provide military intelligence or testimony about alleged crimes, but to intimidate and humiliate them on a daily basis.
Prisoners of war reported being beaten, including with batons and mallets, kicked, and electroshocked with tasers and a military phone known as TAPik.
Russian prisoners of war held by Ukraine told interviewers about summary executions and several instances of torture and ill-treatment, mainly when captured, first interrogated, or taken to transit camps and detention centers. In some cases, they reported being punched and kicked in the face and body after the surrender and during interrogations.
In several cases, Russian POWs said they were stabbed with the “TAPik” phone or shocked with electric batons by Ukrainian law enforcement officers or military personnel guarding them.
Ms. Bogner said that states must treat all prisoners of war humanely at all times from the time of their capture through their release and repatriation and that the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment applies absolutely even in times of armed conflict.
She also said accountability is key to deterring and preventing further violations, adding that parties to the conflict have clear legal obligations to investigate any allegations of violations of international humanitarian law relating to the treatment of prisoners of war under their control and criminally to pursue.