Ukraine sexual violence cases "may amount to war crimes": UN

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Many homes on the front line in Ukraine have been so badly damaged by shelling that they remain abandoned. Photo: Daniel Gerstle/IRIN

Survivors of sexual violence committed in the context of armed conflict in Ukraine are often denied justice and left without adequate care, causing them to be victimized twice.

That's according to a report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in the country, released on Thursday, which also warns that some of these cases "may amount to war crimes."

The majority of the documented cases of conflict-related sexual violence happened when both men and women were detained by either Government forces or armed groups.

Jocelyne Sambira reports.

Beatings, electrocution on the genitals, rape and forced nudity are some of the methods of torture that were used to punish, humiliate or extract confessions from people during the crisis in Ukraine, the report by the UN human rights monitoring mission details.

The three-year investigation covers all of Ukraine, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, with a special focus on the eastern regions, parts of which are under the control of armed groups. 

 Nataliya Pylypiv is a Human rights officer with the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

"We can conclude that at this stage there are no grounds to believe that sexual violence has been used for strategic and tactical ends, at the same time a number of documented cases do amount to torture, cruel or degrading treatment and some can amount to war crime."

Ukraine's justice system lacks the laws, capacity and professional experience to effectively investigate and prosecute allegations of sexual violence, resulting in widespread impunity for perpetrators, the report concludes.

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.

Duration: 1’07”

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