Volker Türk on the situation in Ukraine: escalation of war should not become the norm

Фолькер Тюрк о ситуации в Украине: эскалация войны не должна стать нормой

Consequences of the attack in Kyiv. Volker Türk on the situation in Ukraine: escalation of war should not become the norm Peace and security

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk presented at the 56th session of the Human Rights Council the report of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for the spring of this year and the interim report of the Secretary-General on human rights in temporarily occupied territories.

Commenting on recent attacks on medical facilities, he expressed his outrage that children suffering due to war are being put in danger while undergoing treatment.

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May recorded the highest monthly number of confirmed civilian casualties in nearly a year, with 174 civilians killed and 690 injured in Ukraine, according to the Monitoring Mission. A total of 436 cases of civilian killings and 1,760 injuries were recorded between March and May. Actual numbers are likely higher.

Escalation of Violence

The increase in net civilian casualties is largely the result of ground offensives and air attacks, including the use of powerful aerial bombs, in the Kharkov region. Since May 10, almost 12 thousand people have been evacuated from border areas, and several thousand more have fled their homes on their own.

In addition, the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have become the largest from winter 2022–2023. Since March 22, eight large-scale series of attacks have been recorded.

“It is necessary to immediately stop the use of explosive weapons with a large area of ​​destruction in populated areas. During the reporting period, 96 percent of civilian casualties resulted from the use of such weapons,” the High Commissioner said.

Torture of prisoners of war

According to Turk, released Ukrainian prisoners of war report torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence. He called on the Russian Federation to immediately stop such practices, improve conditions of detention, create mixed medical commissions and provide full access to all places of detention of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians to the UN Office for Human Rights (OHCHR) and independent observers.

OHCHR also continued to document torture and ill-treatment of Russian prisoners of war, including beatings and electric shocks. According to the Department, torture stopped upon arrival at official places of detention. Ukrainian authorities must investigate these cases and ensure that the treatment of prisoners of war at every stage complies with the requirements of international law, Turk stressed.

“Collaboration activities”

In government-controlled territory, Ukrainian authorities continued to prosecute people on charges of “collaboration activities,” including for carrying out public service work such as restoring gas supplies or distributing firewood for heating.

The High Commissioner welcomed the guidelines recently issued by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine aimed at ensuring that prosecution of such cases complies with international law and called for their full implementation.

Human Rights Violations

In the occupied regions, OHCHR documented increasing pressure on residents to obtain Russian passports. Turk emphasized that forcing residents of the occupied territory to obtain the citizenship of the occupying power is a violation of international humanitarian law.

In the report of the Secretary-General on the human rights situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, including Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the Russian Federation has documented ongoing violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law, including arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and torture, as well as violations of the right to freedom of opinion.

“The desire for war and escalation must not become the new normal,” the High Commissioner said.

“War is the greatest enemy of human rights,” he added .


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