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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Amnesty: Torture of POWs is Rife in Ukraine Conflict

by VOA News May 22, 2015

Rights group Amnesty International says it has gathered 'overwhelming evidence' that Ukrainian forces, pro-government militias, and anti-government separatists have tortured or mistreated prisoners, describing it as 'widespread' and 'frequent.'

Amnesty released a report Friday detailing information from interviews with former captives of both the separatists and government forces.

​​"In the shadow of eastern Ukraine's still-smouldering conflict, our on-the-ground research shows that accounts of detainee torture are as commonplace as they are shocking.' said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Program Director at Amnesty International. 'More than 30 former prisoners held by both sides gave us consistent and harrowing accounts of their captors' abuse."

Accounts of torture

The report said 'accounts of detainee torture are as commonplace as they are shocking.' The interviewees said they had been hung from the ceiling, deprived of sleep for days, and threatened with death.

The report said prisoners described being beaten until their bones broke, tortured with electric shocks, kicked, stabbed, and subjected to mock executions.

Amnesty said some of the worst reports of torture involved the Right Sector militia, which is allied with Ukrainian government forces. It said Right Sector has reportedly held 'dozens of civilian prisoners as hostages, brutally torturing them and extorting large amounts of money from them and their families.'

Concern about prisoner mistreatment comes as Ukraine's security services are being criticized for publicly showing off two prisoners alleged to be Russian soldiers, captured while fighting alongside pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Calls for investigation

Amnesty called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate all allegations of war crimes and other abuses and bring to justice those responsible.

"Pro-Kyiv and separatist forces alike must put an end to these crimes and ensure that all fighters under their control are aware of the consequences under international law of abusing prisoners amid an armed conflict,' said Amnesty's John Dalhuisen.

The Amnesty report urged 'relevant U.N. agencies and experts to undertake an urgent mission to Ukraine to visit all detention sites for prisoners held in connection with the conflict.'

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