“Prisoners on both sides have been beaten and subjected to mock executions. We have also documented summary killings of those held by separatist groups. It is a war crime to torture or deliberately kill captives taken during conflict.
“Pro-Kyiv and separatist forces alike must put an end to these crimes and ensure that all fighters under their control are aware of the consequences under international law of abusing prisoners amid an armed conflict. The Ukrainian authorities must investigate all allegations of war crimes and other abuses, open files and collect evidence of abuses by separatist forces and bring to justice all those responsible for perpetrating such heinous acts.”
Out of 33 former prisoners interviewed by Amnesty International, 32 described severe beatings or other serious abuse being meted out by separatist and pro-Kyiv groups alike. All of them were held captive at some point between July 2014 and April 2015, and the organization conducted most of the interviews in March, April and May of this year.
Amnesty International corroborated the victims’ testimonies against additional evidence, including x-rays of broken bones, hospital records, photographs of bruises and other injuries, scars, and missing teeth. Two of the victims were still nursing their wounds in hospital at the time of their interviews.
A broad range of captors aligned with both sides in the conflict are allegedly carrying out this torture and ill-treatment. Of the former prisoners Amnesty International interviewed, 17 had been held by separatists and 16 by pro-Kyiv military and law enforcement officials, including the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).