Nearly half of Ukrainian detainees held in Kherson camps have been subjected to torture and sexual violence, according to a new study by an international human rights law firm.
Analysis of cases in more than 35 identified detention centers revealed that suffocation, waterboarding, electrocution, beatings and threats of rape were widespread techniques imposed by Russian guards in the occupied region.
Global Rights Compliance’s mobile justice team reviewed the stories of 320 people detained in Kherson with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPG), 43% of whom reported being tortured while in custody.
Those detained in the centers included volunteers, activists, medical officials, teachers, community leaders, law enforcement and military personnel.
Wayne Jordash KC, managing partner and co-founder of Global Rights Compliance, said: “The tactics of torture and sexual violence that the prosecutor’s office uncovers in detention centers in Kherson suggest that Putin’s plan to extinguish Ukrainian identity includes a range of crimes suggestive of genocide.
“At the very least, the pattern we are seeing is consistent with a cynical and calculated plan to humiliate and terrorize millions of Ukrainian citizens in order to submit them to the dictates of the Kremlin.”
A hallway in a place where Ukrainians were detained on Pylypa Orlyka Street, where the Russians tried to start a fire to hide the traces of their crimes and burn documents before retreating
Cobwebs smoky with soot in the basement of the detention camp on Pylypa Orlyka str.
The Mobile Justice Team, part of the UK, EU and US sponsored Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA), was set up by a firm and an international foundation of human rights lawyers, Global Rights Compliancein April 2022.
It is headed by a world renowned British lawyer, Wayne Jordash KC. The team’s CRSV work is primarily funded by the EU.
Their research uncovered new evidence of horrific sex crimes committed by Russian soldiers at the centers, including genital electrocutions, threats of genital mutilation and being forced to witness the rape of another inmate with a foreign object.
A Russian soldier reportedly ordered the genital electrocution of 17 separate victims in detention centers.
Evidence of atrocities has piled up in recent months, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accusing Russia of war crimes in Kherson as early as November 2022.
Mass graves have been discovered across Ukraine since the war began in February last year.
Global Rights Compliance said the reported “patterns” of rape and other sex crimes inflicted on occupied people across Ukraine may indicate a “systemically premeditated plan”.
Anna Mykytenko, Senior Legal Counsel and Country Lead for Ukraine, Global Rights Compliance, said: “The true extent of Russia’s war crimes remains unknown, but what we can say with certainty is that the consequences psychological stories of these cruel crimes on the Ukrainian people will be ingrained in their minds for years to come.
“What we are witnessing in Kherson is just the tip of the iceberg of Putin’s barbaric plan to wipe out an entire population. Justice will be served for Ukrainian survivors as we continue our mission to identify and hold authors.
“Impunity is not an option.”
The group said the “hunt” for perpetrators was “well underway”.
This news follows an announcement by Global Rights Compliance in February 2023 that revealed evidence revealing financial records directly linking the torture chambers to the Russian state.
A building of a detention center in Kherson where Ukrainians were detained
Ukrainian detainees were forced to write and learn Russia’s national anthem while in custody
In April, Ukrainian power plant workers also claimed they were tortured by Russian invaders after they refused to “help” them during last year’s occupation.
Employees of the Zaporizhzhia power plant in Russian-occupied Enerhodar told how they were brutalized by invading forces.
An anonymous alleged victim told the Times: ‘I had bruises and blood on my face. I had been hit in the head and body with a rubber truncheon…they held a gun with rubber bullets about a meter or two from my leg and fired.
Some claimed that their colleagues had been killed by Russian forces during the occupation.
11,000 workers were employed at the Zaporizhzhia power plant when Russian forces claimed occupation on February 24, 2022, the first day of the war.
Separately, Russian invaders last year forced 367 people into a school basement in occupied Yahidne, north of kyiv, measuring 200 square meters.
The villagers, including an 18-month-old baby, were held there for nearly a month, and 11 of them died.
One of the survivors said that some people had died from lack of oxygen in the small cellar.
Wayne Jordash KC told MailOnline at the time: ‘There is no doubt the Russian forces were working on a plan.
“At the very least, Russia intended to destroy Ukraine as a nation through a concerted campaign of international crimes.
“More than 450 civilians have died prematurely and hundreds more have disappeared, been tortured, sexually abused or injured during nearly a month of occupation at the hands of this brutal force.
“The Russian plan for Bucha is now as clear as day: they wanted to eliminate any semblance of resistance and Ukrainian identity in the city, and they were prepared for nothing – terrorism, torture and the indiscriminate killing of civilians included – to achieve it. goal.’
Ukrainian prosecutors said in May they had registered 85,000 Russian war crimes since the start of the war.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Putin for war crimes last March.
The ICC can only hear a case if the country where the offense was committed is a party to the Rome Statute – which established the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression – or if the country of origin is a party to the law.
As it stands, Ukraine has signed the 1998 treaty but has not yet ratified it.
Russia was a signatory but withdrew its signature in 2016.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky leaves the basement of a school in the village of Yahidne, Chernihiv region, where all residents were imprisoned during the Russian occupation
Halyna Tolochina stands in front of a wall inscribed with the names of people who died in a school basement, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, in the village of Yahidne
Global Rights Compliance, founded in 2013, is an international law firm and foundation specializing in international humanitarian law, international criminal law, business and human rights.
Global Rights Compliance’s mission is to achieve justice through the innovative application of international law.
Its mobile justice team provides specialized front-line operational expertise support to the Office of the Attorney General (OPG) in Ukraine.
The team is made up of a mix of expert Ukrainian and foreign investigators and lawyers.