Rapes committed by Russian soldiers on civilians aged “4 years” to “82 years”. Torture by electric shock and beatings, indiscriminate attacks with “wide range explosive weapons in populated areas”, displacements of prisoners that end in disappearance… The sordid behavior of Russian soldiers on the field of battle in Ukraine has once again been roundly denounced by a UN Commission of Inquiry which on Friday, in a damning report, accused Moscow of “war crimes” committed in four Ukrainian regions.
In the seventh month of this war of invasion, it is the first time that a UN mission responsible for establishing the facts on the ground has concluded, without taking the usual diplomatic tweezers, that such crimes have been perpetrated by the forces of the Kremlin.
“The commission has documented cases in which children have been raped, tortured and illegally sequestered”, indicated the chairman of this commission, Erik Mose, before the members of the Human Rights Council (HRC) gathered in Geneva in Swiss. The Russian delegation boycotted this Council meeting. He added: “Children have also been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons”, recalling that “exposure to repeated explosions, crimes, forced displacement and separation from family members has deeply affected their well-being and mental health.
A long list of crimes
The investigations were carried out in the regions of kyiv, Kharkiv, Sumy and Chernihiv only by this group of experts set up last April. The Commission visited 27 towns and refugee settlements. She interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.
“We were struck by the large number of executions in the areas we visited,” continued Mr. Mose in an 11-minute statement whose tone and illustrative character were particularly powerful. Common elements of these crimes include pre-detention of victims as well as visible signs of executions on the bodies, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats. »
On sexual crimes, the commission of inquiry indicates that “there are examples of cases where relatives were forced to witness the crimes” committed, said Mr. Mose, a Norwegian judge and former president of the criminal court. international organization that prosecuted the perpetrators of the genocide in Rwanda. He added, however, that his work, by documenting the actions of individual soldiers, did not lead to the conclusion of the existence of a “general framework of sexual violence” deployed as a “strategy of war”.
The conclusions of the investigation report add to the list of crimes committed by Russian forces since the beginning of this war, particularly in the territories under its occupation. The recent liberation of several of these areas, in the regions of Kharkiv and Izium by the spectacular counter-offensive of the Ukrainian resistance army, has provided further evidence of these war crimes.
The investigation continues
On Friday, Anton Korynevych, the Ukrainian foreign ministry’s roving ambassador, called for the creation of a special tribunal “on the crime of aggression against Ukraine” to investigate senior Russian political and military officials who are its responsible. “We believe that there is no more appropriate time to fill a glaring gap in the architecture of international criminal justice,” he declared in the wake of the presentation of the commission of inquiry before the CDH.
The group of experts also indicated that it would broaden the scope of its investigation in the coming weeks into the “filtration camps” set up by the Russian authorities to force the migration of Ukrainian civilians on Russian territory and on the conditions under which the adoption of Ukrainian children by families in Russia was accelerated by Moscow.