OHCHR: Report on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine
(1 August 2022 – 31 January 2023)
The thirty-fifth report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the human rights situation in Ukraine covers the period from 1 August 2022 to 31 January 2023. It is based on the work of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU).
The international armed conflict has led to a wide range of human rights violations affecting both civilians and combatants. OHCHR has verified numerous allegations of arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, torture and ill-treatment, and conflict-related secual violence (CRSV).
During the reporting period, OHCHR recorded a total of 5,987 civilian casualties, with 1,605 persons killed and 4,382 persons injured. However, actual casualty numbers are likely considerably higher, since these figures only include the cases that OHCHR has been able to verify.
Since October 2022, Russian strikes targeting critical infrastructure have killed at least 116 civilians and injured at least 379. They have resulted in serious shortages of electricity, affecting the population’s capacity to face the winter. Moreover, the hostilities have severely impacted civilian infrastructure and housing. OHCHR recorded damage or destruction to 107 medical facilities and 179 educational facilities during the reporting period.
During the reporting period, OHCHR documented the killings of 21 civilians by Russian armed forces, both through summary executions and attacks or individual civilians. It also documented 214 cases (185 men, 24 women and 5 boys) of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of civilians in territory of Ukraine that was or remains under the occupation of the Russian Federation. OHCHR documented 10 cases (7 men, 3 women) of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions of media workers and human rights defenders in territory occupied by the Russian Federation.
During the reporting period, OHCHR documented the enforced disappearances of five boys between 14 and 17 years old by Russian armed forces. The children were all subjected to torture or other ill-treatment, and, in one case, the victim was deported to Belarus.
From February 2022 to 31 January 2023, OHCHR documented 133 cases of CRSV (85 men, 45 women, 3 girls), the majority of which took place in territory occupied by the Russian Federation. 109 cases are attributable to Russian armed forces or Russian law enforcement and penitentiary staff. Sexual violence frequently occurred in a context of deprivation of liberty, as well as in residential areas of villages. It also took place during so-called “filtration” processes by Russian armed forces. During the reporting period, OHCHR documented three cases of rape against women in small communities where Russian armed forces were stationed.
OHCHR documented transfers of civilians to areas in occupied territory or to the Russian Federation, some of which may amount to forced transfers or deportations. These transfers include children and adults who lived in institutionalised settings and unaccompanied childrenfrom parts of Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kherson, Kyiv, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia regions while they were occupied by the Russian Federation or temporarily controlled by Russian armed forces.
OHCHR documented that freedom of movement restrictions imposed by the occupying authorities have jeopardised access to social security and health care. Residents of Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions were left with little or no cash to provide for their means of subsistence.
In the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine (Crimea), occupied by the Russian Federation, the occupying authorities continued to prosecute individuals on the grounds of “public actions directed at discredeting” and “obstructing” the Russian armed forces. By 31 January 2023, OHCHR had documented 210 prosecutions since the introduction of these punishable offenses in 2022. There was a progressive increase in convictions throughout 2022.
In territory of Ukraine under control of the Government of Ukraine, OHCHR documented 91 cases of enforced disappearances and arbitrary detentions (79 men, 12 women) committed by Ukrainian armed forces and law enforcement agencies. OHCHR also documented the arbitrary detention of 88 Russian civilian sailors who legally entered Ukraine before 24 February 2022, but were not thereafter allowed to disembark from their ships in Izmail, Odesa region.
In a welcome development, on 1 December, the Parliament of Ukraine adopted a law in order to align national criminal legislation with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The law notably brings the domestic definition of “torture” in line with the Convention.
Since 24 February 2022, OHCHR has documented 24 cases of CRSV in territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine. All cases occurred between March and July 2022.
OHCHR notes the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to integrate a victim-centred approach into CRSV investigations and to provide assistance to survivors. It also welcomes the Government’s ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention), which entered into force on 1 November.
OHCHR also welcomes the Government’s decision to maintain and continue to pay pensions in all areas of Ukraine, including to those who were registered as IDPs before 24 February 2022.
OHCHR documented searches conducted by the SBU as “security measures” in several monasteries, offices, education facilities and other property of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).
OHCHR continues to monitor the prosecution of war crimes in Ukraine.