UN investigators say there is evidence that the Russian army that invaded Ukraine in February 2022 committed a war crime. The independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine presented its findings to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Friday.
The commission focused its investigation on incidents in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy in late February and early March. It said it documented several human rights violations, including the illegal use of explosive weapons, indiscriminate attacks in civilian areas, torture and sexual and gender-based violence.
Commission chairman Eric Messe said Russia’s illegal use of explosive weapons has caused enormous suffering to the civilian population, and accounted for most of the deaths recorded by UN monitors.
He said investigators have been affected by a large number of executions in 16 towns and settlements.
“Common elements of such crimes include prior detention of the victims as well as visible signs of hanging on the body, such as hands tied behind the back, gunshot wounds to the head and slit throats,” Messe said. ”
The commission interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses. Messe said witnesses have provided frequent accounts of abuse and torture. Some reported that they were transferred to prisons in the Russian Federation, where they were subjected to beatings, electric shocks and other violations.
Messe said an investigation into the cases of sexual and gender-based violence found that the victims of sexual abuse by Russian soldiers were between the ages of four and 82.
“The commission has documented cases in which children have been raped, tortured and unlawfully imprisoned,” Messe said. “Children have also been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons.”
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Ambassador-at-Large Anton Korinevich said that these crimes committed by Russia should not be spared. He is calling for the establishment of a special tribunal with specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
The Russian Federation did not appear for the hearing, a fact that the President of the Council said he regretted.
Messe said that the commission’s “efforts to engage in a constructive dialogue with the authorities of the Russian Federation, sadly, have not been successful so far, but we will persist in our efforts.”
Reuters reports Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov defended Moscow’s war in Ukraine at the UN Security Council on Thursday. He accused Kyiv of endangering Russia’s security and “shamelessly trampling” on the rights of Russian and Russian speakers in Ukraine, adding that it “only confirms the decision to conduct special military operations that were inevitable.” ”