What Are Putin’s ‘Filtration Camps’ And Why Are They Concerning?

Ten months of Putin’s war in Ukraine have seen a litany of atrocities including summary executions, unlawful confinement, torture, ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, forced displacement of people, removal of children, and illegal adoptions, among others. These atrocities meet the legal definitions of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and of the serious risk of genocide and incitement of genocide. Over recent months, yet another aspect of the atrocities came into the spotlight, the issue of the so-called “filtration camps.”

What are filtration camps?

During a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on September 7, 2022, Ilze Brands Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, described filtration camps as “a system of security checks and personal data collection. Individuals subjected to filtration include those leaving areas of ongoing or recent hostilities and those residing in, or moving through, territory controlled by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.” Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, explained that filtration camps are special locations where “Russian authorities or proxies search, interrogate, coerce and reportedly sometimes torture subjects.” However, as she added, “those horrors are not limited to the centers that have been set up. Filtration may also occur at checkpoints, routine traffic stops or on the street.” According to Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, “those operations aim to identify individuals whom Russia deems insufficiently compliant or compatible with its control. (…) One eyewitness said that she overheard a Russian soldier say ‘I shot at least 10 people’ who had not passed filtration.”

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) indicated that filtration camps are a common place for egregious human rights violations, including of the rights to liberty, security of person and privacy. OHCHR documented that such filtrations involve “body searches, sometimes involving forced nudity, and detailed interrogations about the personal background, family ties, political views and allegiances of the individual concerned. They examined personal belongings, including mobile devices, and gathered personal identity data, pictures and fingerprints. In some cases, those awaiting filtration spent nights in vehicles or in unequipped and overcrowded premises, sometimes without adequate access to food, water or sanitation. We are particularly concerned that women and girls are at risk of sexual abuse during filtration procedures.”

During the U.N. Security Council meeting in September 2022, Ms. Oleksandra Drik, Coordinator for international cooperation, Center for Civil Liberties, cited several cases of filtrations. One young man, Taras Tselenchenko, 21, from Mariupol, and his 80-year-old grandmother, were subjected to the filtration process twice. “He was fingerprinted, photographed, interrogated and psychologically pressured through interrogation by a former member of the Ukrainian military, along with a Russian wearing civilian clothes and holding a baseball bat in his hands.” Marya Vychenko, 17, was subjected to filtration in a camp in Mangush. Apart from the usual humiliating procedure, “she was also sexually harassed during her interrogation but was spared violence because the Russian soldiers did not find her pretty enough. ‘Maybe the next one will be prettier’, they said to her.”

Those who do not pass filtration may be detained in filtration camps for months. From there they may be sent to detention centers or prisons in the occupied territories or Russia. A survivor, 16-year-old Vadym Buriak, testified that he “had to live in a prison cell without even a working toilet. Almost daily, he would hear and see the torture of Ukrainian prisoners of war and then be forced to clean up the blood in the torture rooms.”

Reports suggest that Russian authorities have interrogated, detained and forcibly deported between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainian citizens from their homes to Russia. It is a systematic, planned and organized crime. Such filtration camps are not a new development. Indeed, Russia has been using them in the occupied territories since the invasion in Ukraine in 2014.

As evidence of egregious human rights violations is being collected and preserved, specific focus must be paid to the situation in filtration camps and what happens to the individuals who are processed there.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2022/10/30/what-are-putins-filtration-camps-and-why-are-they-concerning/