In the first result of an independent international inquiry into the war in Ukraine, a commission created by the UN concluded that war crimes were committed in the European country. The group, which presented its report on Friday in Geneva, listed regions that had been targeted by Russian attacks and even the rape of elderly women by Kremlin soldiers. The investigation also recorded some cases of abuse by Ukrainian troops.
Based on its investigations into events in the Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has documented violations such as the illegal use of explosive weapons, indiscriminate attacks, violations of personal integrity, including executions, torture and ill-treatment, and sexual violence.
In the document, there is still no direct accountability of who would be the authors of the crimes, since this investigation is still being carried out. But the commission makes it clear that it has recorded acts of torture and abuse in Russian-run prisons. The cities still investigated were precisely those that, at the beginning of the war, had been occupied by Russian forces.
On a visit to Ukraine in June 2022, the Commission noted the damage that explosive weapons caused to residential buildings and infrastructure in populated areas, including schools and hospitals. “Some of the attacks investigated by the Commission were carried out without distinction between civilians and combatants,” he said.
“We were impressed by the large number of executions in the areas we visited,” said Erik Møse, President of the Commission. “We are concerned about the suffering that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has imposed on the civilian population,” he said.
The Commission is currently investigating executions in 16 cities, and has received credible allegations regarding many other similar cases. +Elements common to these crimes include prior arrest of victims and visible signs of execution, such as hands tied behind the back, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats.
According to them, the witnesses provided the Commission with consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture carried out during the illegal confinement. Some of the victims reported that after their initial detention by Russian forces in Ukraine, they were transferred to the Russian Federation and held for weeks in detention centers, where they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
Rape of elderly women
One of the aspects that still shocked investigators was the widespread use of sexual violence, with Russian soldiers accused of being responsible. “The age of victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from four to 82 years,” he said.
The Commission also found that children were exposed to repeated explosions, rapes, forced displacement and separation from family members, as well as other violations.
In the four areas where the investigation was conducted — Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy — the Commission prosecuted two incidents of ill-treatment of soldiers of the Russian Federation by Ukrainian forces. Although few in number, such cases continue to be the subject of the Commission’s attention.
To carry out the work, the group visited 27 cities and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.
Moscow promotes meeting boycott
The conclusions were questioned by the Russian government, which chose to boycott the meeting in Geneva on Friday, while its allies such as Syria and Venezuela condemned the “selectivity” of the report.
The data presented by the independent commission were considered by Western powers as an important step. For the American government, the document reveals the violations committed by the Russians and for which justice is done. Washington also denounces that between 900,000 and 16 million Ukrainians are being forcibly displaced to Russian territory.
“Russia’s war of aggression is accompanied by massive atrocities, bombing of civilian targets, rape, murder, torture and forced deportations, all of which constitute war crimes, which France condemns,” the government of Emmanuel Macron said during the meeting. date.
“We also condemn in the strongest terms the atrocities committed in Izum, Ukraine, under Russian occupation. Hundreds of bodies, some of them with traces of violent death or torture, were buried there,” he warned.
“The perpetrators of these abuses must be held accountable for their actions. France supports the efforts made in this direction by Ukraine, by sending experts and equipment, by the International Criminal Court, strengthening the resources of its prosecutor and by this Commission. Its mandate is fundamental to document these unspeakable acts,” he concluded.