The investigation by the United Nations human rights office reveals abuses by both sides in the nearly nine-month conflict.
Warning: This story contains graphic depictions of torture and abuse.
Russia and Ukraine have tortured prisoners of war during the conflict in Ukraine, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said, citing examples of ill-treatment including beatings, the use of electric shocks and forced nudity. .
The findings of the Ukraine-based OHCHR monitoring team were based on interviews with more than 100 prisoners of war (POWs) on each side of the war, which will soon enter its ninth month.
On Tuesday, the office called on Kyiv and Moscow, which are parties to the Geneva Conventions that set out the laws of war, including the treatment of prisoners of war, to “investigate and prosecute all allegations of violations.”
Matilda Bogner, head of the monitoring mission, told a news conference in Geneva that the “vast majority” of the 159 Ukrainian prisoners interviewed reported torture and ill-treatment.
He gave examples of dog attacks, electric shocks with tasers and military phones, and sexual violence.
Bogner said the treatment was aimed at intimidating and humiliating the detainees.
A man who was held in a penal colony near Olenivka in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region said members of Russia-affiliated armed groups “tied wires” to his genitals and nose and applied electric shocks to him.
“They just had fun and were not interested in my answers to their questions,” the individual said.
Russian prisoners subjected to “welcoming blows”
Other Ukrainians described being stabbed, shot with a taser, threatened with mock executions, hung by hands and legs, and burned with cigarettes.
“We also documented various forms of sexual violence, such as pulling a male victim with a rope tied around his genitals, or forced nudity combined with the threat of rape,” Bogner said.
Interviews with the Ukrainian detainees were conducted after their release, as Russia did not allow investigators access to places of detention.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine on February 24, denies torture or other forms of mistreatment of prisoners of war.
On the Ukrainian side, Bogner reported “credible allegations” of summary executions of the 175 Russian prisoners held by Kyiv forces, among other abuses.
Meanwhile, Russian prisoners denounced precarious and humiliating conditions.
Some said they were put into trucks naked, with their hands tied behind their backs.
The UN team, which Kyiv granted access to Ukrainian places of detention, said it has also documented cases of so-called “welcome coups” in a penal colony.
“In several cases, prisoners of war were stabbed or given electric shocks with the ‘TAPik’ military phone by Ukrainian law enforcement officers or military personnel guarding them,” Bogner said.
Kyiv has previously said that it checks all information on the treatment of prisoners of war and will investigate any violations and take legal action.
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