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The UN has evidence that the Russian authorities committed war crimes in Ukraine

An international UN commission investigating Ukraine’s war crimes said Thursday that it has enough evidence to point out that Russian authorities have committed war crimes in various regions not only of Ukraine, but of Russia itself, including sexual violence and deportation of children. In addition, Russian combat forces have perpetrated crimes against humanity in the wave of attacks that began in October 2022 against energy infrastructure, as have policy makers in validating the use of torture.

“The commission has concluded that the Russian armed forces have perpetrated attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas with apparent disregard for the suffering and harm to civilians,” can be read in the report presented today and which will be presented next week to the Council of UN Human Rights. As the Russian forces advanced into Ukrainian territory, the murders of civilians multiplied, as well as their detention and confinement in facilities built for this purpose both in occupied Ukraine and in Russia, according to the document. In those places, mistreatment quickly turned into torture for reasons such as “speaking Ukrainian” or “can’t remember the words of the Russian anthem”, while outside of them raids by Russian soldiers on private homes resulted in sexual violence or threats to use it against women and men.

Of the children deported to Russian territory, the witnesses interviewed by the commission have indicated that the youngest may have permanently lost contact with their families. On the other hand, the commission’s investigations have also allowed it to establish that Russia’s invasion and attacks against Ukraine can constitute an act of aggression, which can be investigated and for which the International Criminal Court can open a case. In the course of their investigation, the members of the UN group (Erik Mse, from Norway; Jasminka Dumhur, from Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Pablo de Greiff, from Colombia) traveled eight times to Ukraine, visiting 56 cities and interviewing close than 600 people, in addition to visiting destroyed places, detention and torture centers, and witnessing all the remains of weapons and explosives that have been scattered.

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The commission has also investigated human rights violations and excesses committed by Ukrainian forces, although in this case they found “a small number of violations”, in particular two incidents in which Russian soldiers were wounded, tortured or shot at. , “what qualifies as war crimes.” From their interviews, the commissioners drew the conclusion that the greatest desire of the Ukrainian population, and in particular of the victims of atrocities, is for justice to be done and those responsible to be brought to justice. “What is called for is an approach to accountability that includes both criminal responsibility and the right of victims to truth, reparation and non-repetition,” the report states. (Eph)

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