UN confirms "foreign armed actors" in Donbas
Foreign armed actors in Donbas range from volunteers to paid-service men and women, and from independent militants to professional militaries, according to preliminary findings by the United Nations Working Group on mercenaries.
"The Working Group was informed by the authorities of Ukraine of at least 176 identified foreigners serving in armed groups of the self-proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic' and the self-proclaimed 'Luhansk People's Republic.' These reportedly include large numbers from the Russian Federation, Serbia, Belarus, France, and Italy, among others," the report says.
The Working Group also received data that foreign women have also been combatants in the armed conflict, in much smaller numbers.
"What is particularly concerning is that with the diverse array of foreign armed actors who joined the conflict, reports on human rights violations by these individuals have not been properly investigated or brought to justice," Group delegate, human rights expert Patricia Arias said.
In her words, foreign fighters have been prosecuted for various crimes including terrorist-related offences, but no prosecutions have been in relation to the human rights violations that took place.
The Working Group did not find any particular data on private military companies, which are currently prohibited by Ukrainian law.
It was informed that only private security companies operated in Ukraine, and that the government oversees their activities. While a licensing regime regulates private security companies, the operation of private military companies is currently prohibited.
The Working Group strongly recommends the regulation of this sector in the interest of preventing potential human rights violations.