Statement from Daria Morozova on SBU secret prisons in Kharkov region

Comments and statements of the Ombudsman Detention News

The Report by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances that visited Ukraine between June 11 and June 20, 2018 became another proof of the flagrant violation of human rights in Ukraine.

Experts of the Working Group heard numerous allegations from people about the existence of unofficial places of deprivation of liberty, especially at the beginning of the conflict, a prison administered by the Security Service of Ukraine in the Kharkov region between 2014 and 2016. Human rights defenders also obtained credible and detailed descriptions of SBU Kharkiv as a major clandestine detention centre for conflict-related detainees. The detainees were systematically tortured while in custody. In particular, observers documented cases of suffocation with a gas mask, the dislocation of joints, the administration of electric shock, and mock executions. Detainees also received death threats and threats of a sexual nature against themselves and members of their families and were denied access to medical care. “Torture would usually continue until the detainee signed a self-incriminating statement. This facility was later allegedly refurbished to alter the former cells to cover up the crimes committed there,” the Report said.

According to experts of the Working Group, authorities have either denied this or indicated that the investigation could not verify the existence of such a place. “There were also several allegations of individuals being held in other unofficial detention facilities, including in Kramatorsk, Mariupol, Odessa and Pokrovsk,” the paper says. Human rights defenders noted that “all these allegations should be promptly and independently investigated”.

I have sent letters to the ICRC, representational offices of the OSCE and the United Nations with regard to allegations of existence of secret prisons in Mariupol.

 Once again, I urge international human rights organizations to pay special attention to these facts of violation of human rights and freedoms by Ukrainian security forces. The lack of response to such violations entails an increase in cases of torture and illegal detention in Ukraine and leads to their aggravation.