An alleged “torture chamber” that housed Ukrainian children has been uncovered in Kherson, according to a top Ukrainian human rights official Wednesday.
Speaking during a presentation on human rights abuses committed against Ukrainian civilians, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said officials uncovered evidence of the chamber through their investigations.
The report Wednesday centered around human rights abuses documented against civilian adults and two separate reports on abuses against children and soldiers will follow, he said.
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But in explaining the extent of the abuses uncovered in the investigation, Lubinets said authorities also uncovered “the torture of children for the first time.”
“I thought that the bottom could not be broken after Bucha, Irpen,” Lubinets told reporters, referencing areas north of Kyiv that saw mass killings and reports of torture immediately following Russia’s invasion in February.
“I personally saw two torture chambers in Balaklia, which were located opposite each other,” he added in reference to a town in the Kharkiv region, which was retaken by Ukrainian forces in September.
Lubinets described a conversation he had with a man who said he had been held in one of the Kharkiv chambers for 90 days and was tortured with a knife, hot objects, and believed he was headed for the firing line multiple times.
“He heard the screams of women and men who were being tortured 24 hours a day. I thought it was there … bottom,” he said in a press conference transcribed by Ukrainian outlet Pravda. “No. We saw the bottom in Kherson.”
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“In one of the torture chambers, we discovered a separate cell where children were kept,” he continued.
Lubinets said people who were held in the chamber described a room next to theirs where they knew children had been held and which Russian officials referred to as the “children’s cell.”
The cell was described as damp and the children left hungry.
The only difference from the conditions of the children’s cell with that of the other prisoners is they were given three “thin” mats to lay on and water every other day.
The children held in the chamber also endured “psychological” pressure and were told by the guards that their parents had abandoned them.
Lubinets described the children as those who “resisted” Russia’s near seven-month long occupation.
One 14-year-old boy was taken to the chamber after he took a picture of Russian equipment that had been reportedly damaged.
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Lubinets did not detail how long the children were held for or if there were any fatalities.
The commissioner said authorities have so far found four torture chambers in the city of Kherson and six more in the surrounding regions that Ukrainian forces have so far retaken.