16/01/2024 15:01
The Russian Federation continues to violate IHL on a massive scale: 2023 review

Throughout 2023, Russian servicemen continued to commit numerous violations of international humanitarian law on the territory of Ukraine – deliberate killings and casualties among civilians, summary executions and torture of combatants, sexual violence, indiscriminate attacks, threats to high-risk facilities, looting of property, illegal deprivation of liberty. These violations are the focus of the Annual digest on human rights violations during the war in Ukraine, prepared by the Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives. It briefly outlines the main types of IHL violations that took place in Ukraine during 2023 or became known during this or that period of time.

The digest notes that throughout 2023, in the liberated parts of Kharkiv, Kherson, and Mykolaiv Regions evidence continued to be found pointing to deliberate killings and summary executions of civilians in those areas when they had been under the Russian occupation.

Reports of summary executions and torture of combatants from among Ukrainian prisoners of war were quite common in the past year.

There was a steady increase in the number of documented cases of sexual violence. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Ukrainian law enforcement agencies documented 235 facts of CRSV. Those cases were documented in 9 regions of Ukraine that were under Russian occupation at various times. The largest number of the CRSV cases was documented in the Kherson Region – 69 cases.

Throughout 2023, the entire territory of Ukraine continued to be at risk of missile and bomb attacks, including the risk of drone attacks. Missile alerts sounded in all regions of Ukraine with no exceptions. The Donetsk Region in general and since the fall last year – the city of Avdiivka and the surrounding areas, in particular, is where the fiercest battles took place. Throughout the year, heavy battles continued for the cities of Vuhledar and Maryinka. All the above-mentioned cities and surrounding villages had been almost completely destroyed.

The Russian Federation armed forces’ actions continued to threaten the safe operation of high-risk structures and facilities. First of all, this applied to the Zaporizhzhya NPP, where the Russians continued to keep military personnel, a large number of weapons and heavy equipment, having placed mines around the plant. However, the main threat in the year 2023 was the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam.

Throughout 2023, the EUCCI continued to monitor the practice of arbitrary detentions by servicemen of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, Russian Guard, FSB (Russian Federal Security Service), etc. and the detention of civilians from the occupied territories in illegal places of detention. Illegal deprivation of liberty is still being practiced all over the occupied territories and, evidently, is part of a plan or policy against certain strata of the civilian population in those areas. Almost every day, there are new reports of detention of people by the occupation authorities. Some of the detainees are subsequently released, while the fate of others remains unknown.

The Eastern Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives (EUCCI) has been documenting human rights violations committed during Russia's armed aggression against Ukraine since 2014. The purpose is to submit the collected materials to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Office of the Prosecutor General (Ukraine), international investigative commissions and other international organizations. The EUCCI provides free legal support and other types of assistance to some categories of victims. More information about EUCCI can be found on the organization’s website: https://totalaction.org.ua/.

Previous digests on human rights violations are available at the following links: