A report by Human Rights Watch revealed Russian authorities' ongoing conscription and forced enlistment of Ukrainian civilians, including those in detention, in occupied areas into the Russian military, Human Rights Watch. This practice, compelling Ukrainian residents in occupied areas to join the Russian armed forces, unequivocally constitutes a war crime.
Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch said “Russian authorities openly and unlawfully force men in occupied areas of Ukraine to fight against their own country... Less visible is their practice of pressuring Ukrainian civilians in detention, who have nowhere to hide or flee, to join the Russian forces.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed by phone three men in pretrial detention in parts of Donetska region that are currently under Russian occupation. All three said that they have been held there since before Russia’s February 2022 full-scale invasion, and that military officials of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic have tried to pressure them to join the so-called DNR forces, using intimidation, threats, and propaganda. The men also said that the pressure has intensified in recent months. A Ukrainian lawyer representing one of the men told Human Rights Watch that she is aware of at least 11 similar cases.
Through telephone interviews, Human Rights Watch connected with three men in pretrial detention in parts of the Donetska region currently under Russian occupation. All three reported being held captive before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022. They said they have been facing relentless pressure from military officials of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) to join their forces, employing intimidation, threats, and propaganda tactics. The men highlighted that this pressure has heightened significantly in recent months. Furthermore, a Ukrainian lawyer representing one of these individuals disclosed to Human Rights Watch her awareness of at least 11 similar cases.
Read the full report by Human Rights Watch here.