In a statement to the press Thursday, the Council of Europe joined other international bodies, including, recently, a UN investigative team, in expressing concern about reports of widespread human rights violations being committed by Russians on the Ukrainian territories it occupies:

In a decision adopted in the light of a report by Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Committee of Ministers has expressed deep concern over the deterioration of the human rights situation in the territories of Ukraine temporarily controlled or occupied by the Russian Federation, including the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, with evidence of multiple and grave violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

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The Committee of Ministers recalled that the large-scale human rights violations committed by the Russian occupying authorities include, but are not limited to, the systematic use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary executions, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, sexual and gender-based violence, as well as forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens from Ukraine to Russia and Belarus, forceful conscription of Ukrainian citizens to the Russian army, violations of the rights to property and freedom of movement, abusive measures and practices of discrimination against the residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea, including ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars, as well as persons belonging to other ethnic groups and religious communities.

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In particular, the Committee members are concerned by the evidence of killings, injuries, sexual abuse of children and their deportation by Russian forces, and call for their return to their families.

The Committee of Ministers stressed the need for prompt, independent and impartial national and international investigations into reported violations and abuses of international human rights law, violations of international humanitarian law and related crimes. It recalled the strong commitment of European political leaders – at the 4th Council of Europe Summit of Heads of State and Government (Reykjavik, 16-17 May 2023) – to support Ukraine, ensure that Russia and its leaders are held accountable and that the victims have access to justice and reparation. The Registry of Damage for Ukraine is the first component of a future international compensation mechanism.

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