OHCHR: Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine (1 February – 31 July 2023)
This thirty-sixth report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the human rights situation in Ukraine covers the period from 1 February 2023 to 31 July 2023.
Between 1 February and 31 July 2023, OHCHR recorded 4,621 civilian casualties, with 1,028 persons killed and 3,593 injured (1,883 men, 1,294 women, 139 boys, 94 girls, and 1,195 adults and 16 children whose sex is not known yet). Actual casualty numbers are likely higher. 64 per cent of civilian casualties caused by shelling and multiple launch rocket system attacks recorded during the reporting period occured in communities on or near the frontline, mainly in Donetsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Kharkiv regions.
Missiles, air strikes and loitering munitions launched by the Russian Federation resulted in at least 262 civilians killed and 990 injured, and inflicted broad economic and social harm. Following its withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative in July 2023, the Russian Federation launched missile strikes targeting the Odesa region, causing civilian casualties, large-scale damage to historic buildings, port facilities and surrounding civilian infrastracture, and the destruction of grain and other products destined for export.
The breach of the dam at the Kakhovska Hydroelectric Power Plant in June 2023 resulted in massive flooding downstream, triggering an environmental disaster. The incident is expected to have long-term implications for a wide range of human rights, in particular the rights to health, water and an adequate standard of living.
Between 1 February to 31 July 2023, members of Russian armed forces and Russian penitentiary services committed acts of conflict-related sexual violence against four menand one woman. OHCHR also documented 35 additional cases that occured before the reporting period. Sexual violence was often reported in the context of deprivation of liberty. In residential areas where they were stationed, members of Russian armed forces also committed sexual violence against women and one girl.
OHCHR documented that 996 civilians were subjected to arbitrary detention since February 2022. Eighty of them died in detention or were found dead with signs of violence on their bodies, and 468 remain in arbitrary or incommunicado detention.
OHCHR documented six cases of arbitrary detention by Ukrainian security forces.
OHCHR documented six additional cases of summary executions of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs). Of the 56 Ukrainian servicemen interviewed by OHCHR during the reporting period, 51 described being subjected to various forms of torture and ill-treatment. OHCHR also interviewed 26 Russian POWs (all men).
With respect to the explosions which killed at least 51 Ukrainian POWs and injured at least 139 during the night of 28-29 July 2022 at the penal colony near Olenivka, in Russian-occupied Donetsk region, OHCHR assessed that the incident was not the result of HIMARS rockets launched by Ukrainian armed forces.
Since 24 February 2022, OHCHR has documented several cases of children and groups of children from Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Kyiv regions being transferred to other regions in Russian-occupied territory, or deported to the Russian Federation or Belarus. Some children described experiencing or witnessing psychological or physical violence by educational staff there.
OHCHR documented the intimidation of men residing in occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions in order to pressure them to serve in Russian armed forces.
The policy of mass conferral of Russian citizenship to residents of occupied areas of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions exacerbated the coercive environment there. Those who refused Russian passports were denied access to public services, notably social security, healthcare, and education, and risked unemployment. They also faced a heightened risk of arbitrary detention when crossing checkpoints.
In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, occupied by the Russian Federation, the occupying authorities continued to prosecute individuals on the grounds of „public actions directed at discrediting“ and „obstructing“ the Russian armed forces.
In occupied territory, Russian armed forces detained a clergyman belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) whose whereabouts remained unknown as of 31 July 2023. In Crimea, occupying authorities evicted the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) from the Cathedral of the Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Prince Volodymyr and Princess Olga in Simferopol.
Russian authorities in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as in the Russian Federation, convicted 37 Ukrainian POWs on various criminal charges, including terrorism.
In criminal cases related to the law on collaboration activities, Ukrainian courts continued to render guilty verdicts in all cases except one. This law criminalised a wide range of conduct and actions that civilians carried out while they lived under Russian occupation.