War in Ukraine: “War crimes have been committed” in the country, say UN investigators

“Based on the evidence collected by the Commission, it concluded that war crimes were committed in Ukraine”said the chairman of the UN commission of inquiry, Erik Mose, during a first oral report (link in English) Friday 23 september. The vast majority of the abuses listed (bombing of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, sexual violence, etc.) are attributed to Russian forces.

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This UN commission of inquiry presented to the Human Rights Council (HRC) the first conclusions of its investigation into the serious human rights violations committed by Russian forces in the regions of kyiv, Cherniguiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.

A statement welcomed by kyiv

During an online intervention, the representative of Ukraine, Anton Korynevych, described the presentation of the investigators as “significant milestone” towards the establishment of responsibilities before the courts and recalled that his country is calling for the creation of a special tribunal to judge Russian crimes in Ukraine.

The commission was launched in March by the Human Rights Council, at the request of Kyiv. The Council subsequently approved a new resolution in May asking the commission to specifically investigate violations committed by Russian troops in the regions of kyiv, Cherniguiv, Kharkiv and Sumy. During the investigations in these four regions, the commission visited 27 cities and towns and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses, explained Erik Mose.

We were struck by the large number of executions in the regions we visited.

Erik Mose, Chairman of the UN Commission of Inquiry

at the UN

“The Commission is currently investigating these deaths in 16 cities and locations. We have received credible allegations regarding numerous other cases of executions, which we are in the process of documenting.”, did he declare. The bodies found have the common characteristics of having visible signs of executions, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head or slit throats.

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Torture and rape

The chairman of the commission of inquiry also denounced Russia’s use of“wide impact explosive weapons” in civilian areas. In addition, the witnesses, he said, provided consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture, which took place during their unlawful detention. Some of the victims reported that after an initial detention by Russian forces in Ukraine, they were transferred to Russia and held for weeks in prisons.

“Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity, as well as other types of violations in these places of detention”underlined Erik Mose, who also notes that after being transferred to detention in Russia, some victims would have disappeared.

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