Latest news on Russia’s war in Ukraine

Russia’s armed aggression “is becoming synonymous with torture and other inhuman cruelty,” according to the United Nations official responsible for investigating torture.

“The volume of credible allegations of torture and other inhumane acts that are being perpetrated against civilians and prisoners of war by Russian authorities appears to be unabating,” UN Special Rapporteur Alice Jill Edwards said Sunday at the end of her visit to Kyiv.

“These grievous acts appear neither random nor incidental, but rather orchestrated as part of a state policy to intimidate, instil fear, punish, or extract information and confessions,” Edwards said.

Edwards said she had gathered “harrowing testimonies involving electric charges being applied to ears and genitals, beatings of all kinds, mock executions at gunpoint, simulated drowning, being required to hold stress positions, threats of rape or death, and various ceremonies of ridicule and humiliation.”

“Returned Ukrainian civilians and soldiers recounted being crowded in basements and cells, in congested conditions, and being poorly fed. Several lost dangerous levels of weight.”

Edwards also visited places in Ukraine where Russian prisoners of war are held.

“I found that sincere efforts have been made by the Ukrainian authorities to treat Russian prisoners of war respectfully. The barrack-style facilities I visited were hygienic and orderly. Prisoners were being well fed,” she said.

Growing evidence: Edwards’ comments came days after Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andrii Kostin claimed that roughly 90% of Ukrainian prisoners of war had been subjected to torture, rape and other forms of cruel treatment.

Ukraine found “evidence of these horrors in all the liberated territories,” Kostin said, during a meeting with Edwards last week.

According to Ukrainian government figures, over 103,000 war crimes proceedings have been registered so far.

“The work that the Ukrainian authorities are undertaking to document war crimes is all the more impressive given that it is being carried out ‘in real time.’ That early action is virtually unprecedented anywhere in the world,” Edwards said at the conclusion of her visit to Ukraine.

However, Edwards warned that there are major obstacles to bringing the alleged perpetrators to justice. The inaccessibility of presently-occupied areas, the loss of crucial evidence due to deterioration and lapse of time between the crime and liberation when investigations can begin, and adapting the criminal justice system to be able to process and prosecute international atrocity crimes, will all pose challenges to Ukrainian prosecutors.

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