REUTERS

Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and Head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), delivered an address to the high-level videoconference Arria-formula meeting titled "Crimea: 7 years of violations of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity", held on Friday, March 12.

The official recalled that the UN had been monitoring the situation in the occupied Crimea since 2014, and continued to do so, an UNIAN correspondent reports.

Read alsoUkraine approves strategy to end Russian occupation of CrimeaDue to the lack of unfettered access to the occupied peninsula, the UN Monitoring Mission has been forced to conduct its work remotely – do interviews with victims and witnesses of human rights violations, as well as other stakeholders, collect public information, such as court registries and official statistics, and analysis of legislation which impacts human rights in Crimea.

"OHCHR continues to receive credible information alleging torture and ill-treatment by the Russian Federation's security service and police in Crimea of individuals deprived of liberty," the official stated, adding that such methods were used to force people to self-incriminate or testify against other persons, as well as retaliation for their political stance.

She underlined that such incidents are not investigated and none of those responsible of torture and other rights violations was ever held accountable.

Also, detainees, their families and lawyers have complained about the conditions of detention in Crimea which could amount to inhumane or degrading treatment.

"The Russian Federation continues to apply the entirety of its legislation, including criminal law, in Crimea contrary to its obligations as an occupying power under international humanitarian law. This has particularly impacted pro-Ukrainian activists, critics of the occupation of Crimea, and individuals believed to be members or sympathizers of religious organizations banned under Russian law but legal in Ukraine," Brands Kehris added, noting that most Crimea residents subjected to persecution are Crimean Tatars.

Pressure is being exerted on local journalists, some of whom are accused of extremism, while others are deported from the peninsula and banned reentry.

The UN Secretary General's assistant has added that the occupation authorities had been exerting major pressure on the Ukrainian church in Crimea and parishioners with the Crimea diocese of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

She also recalled that Russia had been unlawfully conscripting Crimea men to the Russian army, while prosecuting those dodging draft.

Background

The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, Liudmyla Denisova, said 114 Ukrainian nationals were being illegally held in the occupied Crimea and mainland Russia, including 78 ethnic Crimean Tatars.