UN commission sees ongoing war crimes in Ukraine
There is "continuous evidence" that Russian armed forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, including unlawful attacks with explosive weapons and attacks harming civilians or targeting energy infrastructure, as well as torture and sexual and gender-based violence, the UN Human Rights Council's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said in its latest update Sept. 25.
During a presentation to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Commission reported that it had documented explosive weapons attacks on residential buildings, a functional medical facility, a railway station, a restaurant, shops and commercial warehouses. These attacks led to civilian casualties, the damage or destruction of key facilities, and the disruption of essential services and supplies.
The Commission said it "deplores that attacks affecting civilians and medical institutions, which have protected status, continue to take place."
The Commission's investigations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia also indicate the widespread and systematic use of torture by Russian armed forces against persons accused of being informants for the Ukrainian armed forces. In some cases, torture was inflicted with such brutality that it caused the death of the victim.
One victim who suffered torture through electric shocks stated: "Every time I answered that I didn't know or didn't remember something, they gave me electric shocks … I don't know how long it lasted. It felt like an eternity."
In the Kherson region, Russian soldiers raped and committed sexual violence against women of ages ranging from 19 to 83 years, the Commission found. Frequently, family members were kept in an adjacent room, hence being forced to hear the violations taking place.
Among the many devastating consequences for children, the Commission has continued to investigate alleged transfers of unaccompanied minors by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation. The Commission said it "regrets that there is a lack of clarity and transparency on the full extent, circumstances, and categories of children transferred."
The Commission said it is also concerned about allegations of genocide in Ukraine. For instance, some of the rhetoric transmitted in Russian state and other media may constitute "incitement to genocide." The Commission said it is continuing its investigations on such issues.
The Commission reiterated its "deep concern at the scale and gravity of violations that have been committed in Ukraine by Russian armed forces," and emphasized the need for accountability. It also recalled "the need for the Ukrainian authorities to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate the few cases of violations by its own forces."
Since its establishment in March 2022, the Commission has travelled over 10 times to Ukraine. In the course of its mandate, its members and investigators have met with government authorities, members of civil society, international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders. (OHCHR)
See our last report on war crimes accusations against Russia.