Newspaper article International New York Times

Report Details Torture in Ukraine ; Rights Groups Cite Abuses by Both Sides, Including Use of Waterboarding

Newspaper article International New York Times

Report Details Torture in Ukraine ; Rights Groups Cite Abuses by Both Sides, Including Use of Waterboarding

Article excerpt

A report by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International cites abuses by both sides in the war, including waterboarding.

A report by two leading human rights groups has accused Ukraine's Western-backed security services of practicing abuse and torture in a manner similar to that of the rebel groups they are fighting.

In the report about disappearances and torture in the Ukraine war titled "You Don't Exist," Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International document harrowing abuse by both sides, including waterboarding and the use of electrical shocks. The report was released on Thursday.

Ukraine has been battling Russian-backed separatists in the country's east since 2014, with fighting grinding on despite a cease- fire. This past week, seven Ukrainian soldiers died in a single day of fighting.

The front line zigzags through several towns, so worries about spies and surreptitious artillery spotters among the civilian population run high in the armies of both sides, and abuse follows, the report said.

"People in eastern Ukraine who are being seized and hidden away by the warring sides are at the mercy of their captors," Tanya Lokshina, a researcher with Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report, said in a statement.

"It is never legal or justified to seize people off the streets, cut them off from contact with family and lawyers, and beat and abuse them," she said.

Ukraine's domestic intelligence agency, the Security Service of Ukraine, denies illegally detaining suspects in the conflict. And yet as recently as May, it refused to allow a United Nations delegation investigating reports of torture access to sites where suspects were alleged to be held illegally.

During the two-year conflict, much attention had fallen on the abuses of Russian-backed rebels, who routinely rounded up and held in basements civilians expressing pro-Ukrainian views, freeing them after a ransom had been paid or in prisoner exchanges. …

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