Russian forces in Ukraine faced fresh accusations of war crimes as UN-appointed independent human rights investigators released the latest findings of their ongoing probe.
According to the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, set up one year ago at the request of the Human Rights Council, Russian troops committed a wide range of violations across the country, many of which are war crimes.
These included attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas, willful killings of civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, as well as unlawful transfers and deportations of children.
In addition, Russian attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid left millions without power in freezing temperatures.
Speaking in Geneva on Thursday, Chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, Erik Mose said the Commission found that “the waves of attacks from 2022 October 10 on Ukraine’s energy-related infrastructure by the Russian armed forces, and the use of torture by Russian authorities, may amount to crimes against humanity.”
She said the Commission recommended further investigations “to ascertain whether those violations have been committed in furtherance of a specific policy.”
The Commission prepared the report, which covers nine Ukrainian regions, after visiting 56 towns and interviewing nearly 600 witnesses.
The findings build on the Commission’s first report released in October last year, which found that war crimes had been committed by Russia in the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy, early on in the conflict.
A key finding of the report relates to “widespread” unlawful confinement in areas controlled by Russian armed forces, going hand in hand with “consistent” methods of torture by Russian authorities.
The report highlights numerous instances of rape and sexual violence committed by Russian military personnel,
The Commission also documented a “limited number” of violations committed by Ukrainian armed forces.
The report highlights the “deep loss and trauma” of survivors and recommends that all perpetrators of violations and crimes are held accountable through judicial proceedings in accordance with international human rights standards, “either at the national or the international level”.
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