War in Ukraine: Amnesty International denounces forcible transfers and deportations of Ukrainian civilians to Russia

Three months after implicating the Ukrainian forces, accused of having established military bases in residential areas, Amnesty International is once again looking into the conflict. In a report (in English) published Thursday, November 10, the NGO documents the deportations of Ukrainian populations by Russian forces, as well as the “filtrations” to which they are subjected.

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To carry out their investigation, the authors interviewed 88 people, including 48 from Mariupol, from where the inhabitants were taken against their will to the annexed territory of Donetsk or to Russia. The NGO explains how the “Russian and pro-Russian forces left civilians no choice” during these transfers, in particular by preventing them from fleeing to areas controlled by Ukraine at the start of the invasion.

In March, for example, residents of an institution for the elderly and disabled were first evacuated to a youth camp in a village west of the city. Once the civilians are there, Five armed men burst in, forcing them to board an evacuation bus, without explaining anything to them and taking their passports, said a staff member interviewed by Amnesty International.

Detention and abuse during “filtration”

During these transfers, Ukrainian civilians often had to pass through “filtration” points, where they were subjected to questioning, searches or fingerprinting. Some people explain having had to wait a week during these halts towards the Donetsk territory, being deprived of their freedom. Otherwise, “children have been separated from their families (…) in violation of international humanitarian law”.

Amnesty International says it has also documented “six cases of persons arbitrarily detained and subjected to torture or inhuman treatment” by Russian or pro-Russian authorities. Once in Russia, some civilians “were sent to towns far from the border with Ukraine and placed in centers run by the Russian government”where they were under surveillance.

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Amnesty International mentions cases likely to constitute a “war crime”. The NGO calls on Russia to immediately stop the deportation or forced transfer of civilians, and to release those held illegally.

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