Russian Attacks on Civilians in Ukraine Could Amount to War Crimes

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UN investigators accused Russian officials of serious, widespread human rights violations against Ukrainian civilians, which in many cases could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In its first comprehensive report on the situation in Ukraine since Russia invaded that country on February 24, 2022, the three-member International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded that “the Russian authorities committed numerous violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights”. law, in addition to a wide range of war crimes.”

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War crimes include attacks on civilians and energy-related infrastructure, intentional killings, torture and inhumane treatment, unlawful imprisonment, rape, and the illegal transfer and deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

“The conflict in Ukraine has had devastating effects at various levels,” said Commission President Eric Mose. “The general disregard for human loss and lives of civilians is shocking.


“Europe has the highest number of people displaced or seeking asylum abroad since World War II,” he said.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that more than 5.4 million people are internally displaced, and more than 8.1 million Ukrainians have fled to neighboring European countries as refugees.

Mose said the destruction of essential infrastructure – schools, health facilities, residential buildings and other facilities – has had a huge impact on people’s lives.

“The effects of aggression on the people and on the country will not go away without great effort and commitment,” he said.

Over the past year, the commission has traveled to Ukraine eight times, visiting 56 localities and interviewing nearly 600 women and men.

“While the Commission can establish a dialogue with the Ukrainian authorities and receive answers to its questions, it regrets that it was not able to establish such dialogue with the Russian Federation,” Moss said.

In its findings, the commission collected evidence of the use of explosive weapons by the Russian Armed Forces in populated areas “with a clear disregard for civilian harm and suffering”.

The report said the attacks were indiscriminate and disproportionate “in violation of international humanitarian law.”

According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, such attacks have resulted in 90.3% of civilian casualties in conflict. Since the start of the war, the United Nations has recorded at least 8,000 deaths and about 13,300 injuries, although it believes that “the actual figures are much higher.”

The Commission has gathered evidence showing a widespread pattern of summary executions, which Commissioner Pablo de Greef said “the Russian authorities have committed unlawful killings of civilians in areas under their control … which violate the right to life”. and in some cases are war crimes.”

The Commission has documented numerous cases of rape and sexual and gender-based violence by Russian authorities affecting women, men and girls aged 4 to 82 “when they committed house-to-house arrests in areas under their control and during unlawful confinement”. visited the house.”

Commission member Jasminka Zumhur said the group has examined the situation of forced relocation and deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

“The Commission documented that the Russian authorities have taken legal and policy measures with respect to Ukrainian children deported to the Russian Federation.

“This includes citizenship and family planning measures, which have profound implications for the identity of the child,” she said. “Such measures violate the child’s right to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family ties, without unlawful interference, as recognized by international human rights law … and may even amount to a war crime.”

The Ukrainian government reports that 16,221 children have been deported to Russia. The commission said it was not able to verify these figures.

The commission found that a limited number of Ukrainian armed forces violated international humanitarian law. It said they used cluster munitions, which are banned under international law, and that Ukrainian soldiers had tortured and abused Russian prisoners of war in two incidents that could amount to war crimes.

The commission has drawn up a list of the identities of those responsible for war crimes. That list will not be made public and will be handed over to the UN Human Rights Office for future prosecution.

The commission is calling for the investigation of all violations and crimes and for holding those responsible accountable at the national or international level.

The report will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council next week.

Russian Attacks on Civilians in Ukraine Could Amount to War Crimes

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