UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will deliver his first report on the human rights situation in Russian-annexed Crimea at the international body’s next general assembly, which opens on September 17.
The report, published on August 2, says it is “limited to information collected through remote monitoring” because Russia would not give workers from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) access to the occupied Ukrainian peninsula.
Russia rejects the UN’s resolutions that call Russia an occupying force.
Conditions on the peninsula allow for “abductions and unacknowledged detention” as well as “enforced disappearance," a violation of rights to life, liberty and security, the report stated.
OHCHR identified 42 victims -- 38 men and four women -- of enforced disappearance in Crimea since March 2014.
“Torture and ill-treatment of individuals” in law enforcement detention centers was reported.
Most victims were men charged with extremism, affiliation with groups banned in Russia, sabotage, or “anti-Russian” activities.
Torture was used to obtain confessions in nearly all accounts OHCHR received.
In terms of rights to maintain one’s identity, the OHCHR “documented a narrowing space for manifestations of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar identities and enjoyment of the respective cultures in Crimea.”
On freedom of religion, the UN agency noted that the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate lost its legal status because it didn’t register with the Russian authorities.
Other churches like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church faced obstacles to register.
Congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses lost their right to operate in 2017.
Charges have been pressed selectively on people in “ways that undermine freedom of expression in Crimea,” the report said.
Individuals who’ve expressed dissenting views toward the authorities in any form of media, including online social media, have been deemed “extremist.”
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities have been denied permits to publicly assemble.