Amnesty ‘used testimony from detainees in Russian camps’ in scandalous report, Ukraine government agency claims

8 August 2022, 06:58 PM
People with whom Amnesty International spoke during the preparation of the report on alleged violations by the Armed Forces spoke under pressure (Photo:Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS)

People with whom Amnesty International spoke during the preparation of the report on alleged violations by the Armed Forces spoke under pressure (Photo:Zohra Bensemra/REUTERS)

Human rights organization Amnesty International used the testimony of detainees in filtration camps and prisons in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine when compiling a report highly critical of Ukraine’s military, a Ukrainian government body has alleged.

The Ukrainian government’s Center for Strategic Communications, or Stratcom, said in a Facebook post on Aug. 8. that some of the material for the report was obtained during interviews with people evacuated to temporarily occupied territories not controlled by Ukraine: in the occupied Donbas or the Crimea.

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It said that independent journalists and volunteers in Mykolayiv and Kharkiv oblasts and the Donbas had collected the testimony – not Amnesty International workers.

“In particular, the material was collected on the territory of filtration camps and prisons, (and the) survey was conducted among those ‘willing’ to provide such information,” Stratcom claimed.

“Such information collected on the territory of the camps should not have been used in the report at all,” Stratcom went on.

“Such interviews were selected under obvious pressure from the Russian security forces.”

Stratcom claimed that in some cases people had to give interviews in order to pass the Russian filtration process and leave the occupied territories.

Also, according to Stratcom, the testimony collected by journalists and volunteers was checked by the administration of prison institutions and, in some cases, by Russian FSB agents.

Earlier, international human rights organization Amnesty International issued a press release on Aug. 4 accusing Ukraine of “violating the laws of war” due to the alleged placement of military bases in residential areas, schools, and hospitals.

The report on which the accusations are based has not been made public, but has been given to the Ukrainian government.

The Office of the President of Ukraine, in turn, has said that Amnesty International was being used in a Russian disinformation campaign.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Amnesty International had created a “false balance between the criminal and the victim,” while Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called the report “out of touch with reality and a way to destroy the authority” of the organization.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that the report, in which Amnesty International does not mention the numerous war crimes committed by Russian invasion forces in Ukraine, is an attempt to shift responsibility from the aggressor to the victim.

Amid outrage in Ukraine over the allegations in the report, Amnesty International’s Ukraine office announced that it had nothing to do with the preparation of the study, and a separate team from Amnesty’s Crisis Response Department had been responsible for its compilation.

The head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine office, Oksana Pokalchuk, announced her resignation on Aug. 5.

Numerous experts have been highly critical of the allegations made by Amnesty International against the Ukrainian military, saying the claims betrayed a lack of understanding of military tactics and of international law.

Meanwhile, Kremlin propagandists and even an official Russian delegation – the Russian Mission in Geneva – have used the claims in Amnesty’s report to undermine the Ukrainian military’s credibility and justify Russia’s own attacks on schools and hospitals in Ukraine.

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