UN reports on ‘growing evidence’ of war crimes in Ukraine
Geneva, April 22 (EFE).- The United Nations human rights chief on Friday accused Russia of ignoring international humanitarian law in its invasion of Ukraine and reported on “growing evidence” of war crimes.
“Over these eight weeks, international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
The UN agency said Russian forces had indiscriminately bombed residential areas, shelled hospitals and schools and killed civilians in “actions that may amount to war crimes.”
“What we saw in Government-controlled Kramatorsk on 8 April when cluster submunitions hit the railway station, killing 60 civilians and injuring 111 others, is emblematic of the failure to adhere to the principle of distinction, the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and the principle of precaution enshrined in international humanitarian law,” Bachelet added.
The UN’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has documented and verified 5,264 civilian casualties – 2,345 killed and 2,919 injured – since the war began on February 24 when Russian forces invaded the eastern European nation.
“We know the actual numbers are going to be much higher as the horrors inflicted in areas of intense fighting, such as Mariupol, come to light,” Bachelet warned.
“The scale of summary executions of civilians in areas previously occupied by Russian forces are also emerging. The preservation of evidence and decent treatment of mortal remains must be ensured, as well as psychological and other relief for victims and their relatives,” she added.
The agency reported that during a mission to Bucha on April 9, officers documented the unlawful killing, including by summary execution, of some 50 civilians.
“Almost every resident in Bucha our colleagues spoke to told us about the death of a relative, a neighbor or even a stranger,” the human rights chief said.
Experts working on gathering testimonies and evidence say Bucha is just the tip of the iceberg and not an isolated incident.
The death toll in Ukraine has been aggravated by Russia’s recurrent attacks on medical facilities. So far, the HRMMU has documented 114 such attacks.
“We estimate that at least 3,000 civilians have died because they couldn’t get medical care and because of the stress on their health amid the hostilities,” Bachelet said.
Reports of Russian forces using sexual violence as a weapon of war have also surfaced.
The HRMMU has logged 75 allegations of rape, the majority of which were in the Kyiv region.
Bachelet added that reports on the alleged “arbitrary and incommunicado detentions” by Ukrainian forces and international battalions had emerged and called on all parties in the conflict to adhere to and respect international humanitarian law and human rights.
“Those in command of armed forces must make it clear to their fighters that anyone found to have been involved in such violations will be prosecuted and held accountable,” Bachelet said.
“I call on the parties to the conflict to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law allegedly committed by their nationals, armed forces and affiliated armed groups, in line with their obligations under international law.”EFE