The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Gail Edwards, said the widespread use of torture by Russian forces appeared to be deliberate.
A United Nations expert said that reports of Russian forces’ widespread use of torture in Ukraine could indicate that grave abuses of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilians are “state-sanctioned” by Moscow.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Alice Gail Edwards, said on Thursday that she was alarmed by “reports and testimonies” that appeared to indicate that Russian forces in Ukraine were “continuously and deliberately inflicting severe physical and psychological pain and suffering” on civilian and military prisoners. .
“The alleged practices include electric shocks, beatings, hooding, mock executions and other death threats,” Edwards said in a statement.
“If established, it … may also amount to a state-sanctioned pattern of torture,” she said.
The UN rapporteur said in a statement: “The consistency and methods of alleged torture indicate “a level of coordination, planning and organisation, as well as direct authorization, deliberate policy or official tolerance from higher authorities.”
Edwards said she and other U.N. rights experts had expressed their concerns in a letter to Moscow.
“Torture is a war crime, and the systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity,” Edwards said, warning that “compliance with a higher order or political directive” cannot be used to justify the torture of prisoners.
“Any individual involved must be promptly investigated and prosecuted,” she said.
Those who were allegedly tortured were also often held in “grossly inappropriate conditions” in facilities run by Russian forces inside Ukraine.
The UN expert said those who reported suffering under Russian torture in Ukraine were left with physical and psychological injuries, including damage to internal organs, fractures and cracked bones as well as hallucinations, sensory impairments, strokes and exacerbations of chronic diseases.
“The longer the war continues, the more reports of torture and other inhuman treatment will emerge,” said Edwards, who plans to conduct a fact-finding mission to Ukraine later this year.
“I strongly urge the relevant authorities to ensure that civilians and prisoners of war are protected and treated humanely at all times,” she added.
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