Sun | Oct 2, 2022

UN rights experts present evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

Published:Friday | September 23, 2022 | 1:31 PM
Erik Mose, center, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, Jasminka Dzumhur, left, and Pablo de Greiff, right, Commissioners of Inquiry on Ukraine, talk to the media during a press conference following an update to the UN Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

GENEVA (AP) — A team of experts commissioned by the UN's top human rights body to look into rights violations in Ukraine said Friday its initial investigation turned up evidence of war crimes in the country following Russia's invasion nearly seven months ago.

The experts from the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, mandated by Human Rights Council earlier this year, have so far focused on four regions — Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.

Presenting their most extensive findings so far, they cited testimonies by former detainees of beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity in Russian detention facilities, and expressed grave concerns about executions the team was working to document in the four regions.

“Based on the evidence gathered by the commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Erik Mose, the commission's chairman, told the Human Rights Council.

Commission member Pablo de Greiff told reporters the team had “found two instances of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian soldiers. ... We have found obviously significantly larger numbers of incidences that amount to war crimes on the part of the Russian Federation.”

During a 10-day June trip to Ukraine, the team visited Bucha, a city outside Kyiv where Ukrainian authorities found mass graves and bodies strewn in the streets after Russian forces pulled out in late March.

“We were struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited. The commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements,” Mose said. He didn't specify who or which side in the war allegedly committed the killings.

The findings echo reports by news outlets and others of the destruction, death and despair in Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion on February 24.

The commission's work could ultimately contribute to the work of International Criminal Court prosecutors who could bring charges over war crimes in Ukraine, although it remains uncertain whether Russia or other alleged perpetrators will ever face justice.

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