UN investigation concludes that Russia committed war crimes in Ukraine

This article contains references to sexual violence.
UN investigators said on Friday that war crimes had been committed in the conflict in Ukraine, citing Russian bombing of civilian areas, numerous executions, torture and horrific sexual violence.
“Based on the evidence collected by the commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Eric Moss, head of the investigation team, told the UN Human Rights Council.
The categorical nature of the statement was extraordinary.

UN investigators usually formulate their findings on international crimes in conditional language, referring to the final confirmation of war crimes and similar abuses to the courts.

The council was set up by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) – the highest possible level of investigation – in May to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The team of three independent experts was giving their first oral update to the council after it began preliminary investigations looking into the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, and said it would expand the investigation in the future.

Speaking a day before the seven-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, Mr. Musa referred to “the Russian Federation’s use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas”, which he said is a “source of enormous damage and suffering to its neighbour”. civilians.”

Torture and sexual violence

He explained that a number of the attacks the team investigated “were carried out without distinction between civilians and combatants,” including cluster munition attacks in populated areas.

In particular, he said, the team was “shocked by the large number of executions in the areas we visited,” and the “frequent visual signs of executions on corpses, such as handcuffing behind the back, bullet wounds to the head, and ‘throat slits’.”

Mr. Moss said the commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements and has received credible allegations about several other cases that it will seek to document.

Move to Russia

The interrogators also received “consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture, carried out during unlawful confinement.”
Some of the victims told investigators they had been transferred to Russia and held for weeks in prisons.
Others have “disappeared” following these transfers. “Interviewers described beatings, electric shocks, and forced nudity, as well as other types of abuse in these detention facilities,” said Mr. Moss.
The head of the commission said that the investigators “also dealt with two incidents of mistreatment of soldiers of the Russian Federation by Ukrainian forces,” adding that “despite the small number of these cases, these cases are still of interest to us.”
Mr. Moss said the team has also documented cases of sexual and gender-based violence, in some cases proving Russian soldiers to be the perpetrators.
“There are examples of cases where relatives have been forced to witness crimes,” he said.
“In the cases we investigated, the ages of victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from 4 to 82 years.”
He said the commission had documented a wide range of crimes against children, including children who had been “raped, tortured and unlawfully imprisoned.”
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