In its violent and unlawful invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia has launched indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian targets, including hospitals, schools, and humanitarian corridors. Hundreds of civilians, including children, have been killed and many more injured, and thousands are in danger of dying in besieged areas cut off from water, food, and electricity. Millions more remain at grave risk.
PHR has been speaking out against Russia’s actions against Ukraine since 2014, when Russia moved to annex Crimea and backed separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The armed conflict catapulted Ukraine into the ranks of countries deemed by the U.S. Holocaust Museum’s Early Warning Project as being most at risk of perpetrating a mass killing against its own citizens.
A PHR team that travelled to Ukraine in 2015 found that the number of dead and missing overwhelmed the country’s limited capacity to identify them all. There was poor information management between government agencies and departments working on the identification of the dead and missing, frequent duplication, and poorly maintained databases.
The conflict-ridden east was plagued by devastated infrastructure, including of medical facilities, lack of medical supplies, militarization, restricted freedom of movement, and the blocking of western humanitarian aid organizations from delivering critical medical supplies and drugs.
The team also found that while Ukraine’s legal framework provides for safeguards against torture, the country falls short in several key areas, especially in regards to access to medical care in detention – an important safeguard against torture and other ill-treatment.