The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to Ukraine calls to intensify investigation of international humanitarian law violations during the Ilovaisk events in eastern Ukraine in August 2014, stated Ms. Fiona Frazer, Head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, presenting the thematic UN report at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
“The Ilovaisk events are emblematic of human rights violations, abuses and international humanitarian law violations that have been repeatedly committed against civilians and persons hors de combat during the conflict. These include shelling of residential areas, resulting in civilian casualties, killings, unlawful detention, forced disappearance and torture of civilians and other protected persons,” Ms. Frazer noted.
The findings of the report are based on more than 80 individual interviews with victims and witnesses on both sides of the contact line, covering violations committed between August 1 – August 31.
The report documents cases of ill-treatment of captured Ukrainian soldiers. According to interviewed witnesses, the captured Ukrainians were divided into two groups. One included professional and drafted servicemen, the second one comprised members of Ukrainian volunteer battalions. The latter were held in worse conditions, torture was used during interrogation. Members of volunteer battalions who originated from Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv regions were subjected to harsher physical treatment.
”We received allegations of the killing of three Ukrainian soldiers after they surrendered, on the 29th of August. Allegations also suggest that some Ukrainian soldiers wounded in combat were subsequently killed, despite being hors de combat. We have also documented the forced disapperarence of a male military doctor, which may have led to his death”, said Fiona Frazer. At least four Ukrainian soldiers died due to non-provision of adequate medical aid.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission documented the killing of four civilians. “Two of these were perpetrated by Ukrainian battalions, while in their custody. Two were killed in their home, but there is no certainty by whom,” Ms. Frazer elaborated. At least 36 civilians were killed by indiscriminate shelling.
The report also documented cases of 13 civilian men tortured or ill-treated by Ukrainian forces in Ilovaisk and surrounding villages, suspected of either being members of the armed groups of the so-called “LPR” and “DPR” or affiliated with them.
The report emphasizes the devastating impact of military operations on the life of civilians in Ilovaisk and surrounding villages, in addition to casualties. Six hundred of the town’s 1800 houses were destroyed, 116 multi-storey buildings were damaged. People had no electricity, gas and water supply for three weeks. The local hospital was operating in extraordinary conditions until the 10th of August and then had to close, having run out of medical supplies. Until the 31st of August, the town had no functioning medical facility.
“Four years on, and the investigation undertaken does not reflect the full scale of violations. […] It is for critical to mobilize the national and international justice systems to impartially, objectively, fairly and promptly address all human rights violations and abuses, as well as international humanitarian law violations, committed by all parties to the conflict. Those responsible must be held accountable,” Ms. Frazer emphasized.