Evidence mounts of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

A new UN report has found continued evidence of war crimes and human rights violations committed by Russian authorities in Ukraine, including torture, rape and the deportation of children. The latest report by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, published on Oct. 20, documents additional indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons, resulting in deaths, injuries and the destruction and damage of "civilian objects." For example, 24 people, mostly women and children, were killed in an attack on a block of residential apartments in Uman, a city in the Cherkasy region, in April. 

New evidence, same torture pattern
Commissioners spoke with residents during their recent visit to the country. Their investigations also confirmed previous findings that Russian authorities have used torture in a widespread and systematic way in various types of detention facilities. New evidence collected in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions found Russian authorities used the same pattern of torture in areas under their control, mainly against men suspected of passing information to the Ukrainian authorities or supporting the Ukrainian armed forces. The commissioners said their interviews with victims and witnesses revealed "a profound disregard towards human dignity by Russian authorities." Witnesses reported situations in which torture had been carried out so brutally that the victim died.

Lasting traumatic impacts
Recent investigations in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions showed that rape and other sexual violence were often committed together with additional acts of violence, including severe beatings, strangling, suffocating, slashing, shooting next to the head of the victim, and willful killing. Such traumatic experiences have severe and long-term consequences for the physical and mental health of the survivors, the report said.

Unlawful child deportations
The commissioners investigated further accounts of Ukrainian children being transferred to Russia or to Russian-occupied areas in Ukraine. They concluded that the transfer of 31 children to Russia in May 2022 was an unlawful deportation, and thus a war crime.

The UN Human Rights Council established the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine in March 2022, shortly after the start of the full-scale Russian invasion. The mandate was extended in April for an additional year.

Condensed from UN News, Oct. 20

See our last report on evidence of Russian  war crimes in Ukraine.

The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin in March over the forced deportation of children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

US charges four Russian soldiers with war crimes in Ukraine

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) formally unsealed war crime charges against four Russian soldiers on Wednesday. The soldiers charged with three war crimes each—unlawful confinement, torture and inhuman treatment—and one count of conspiracy to commit war crimes. The defendants face a maximum penalty of life in prison. None are currently in custody.

In April of 2022, less than two months after Russia invaded Ukraine, an American who lived in Mylove, Ukraine, was allegedly abducted by Russian soldiers. The American had not fought or participated in the conflict. He lived with his wife in the small southern Ukrainian village. According to the indictment, the American was a "protected person" under the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Two Russian commanders and two low-ranking soldiers reportedly went to the home of the American. The DoJ claims that the Russians handcuffed him naked, photographed him, and beat him with the stocks of their guns. In a makeshift Russian compound, the soldiers allegedly tortured him, subjected him to manual labor, threatened to sexually assault him, and continued their beatings.

"Torturing and unlawfully confining a protected person are serious human rights abuses that must not go unpunished," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the DoJ's Criminal Division. (Jurist)