“War crimes were committed in Ukraine during the conflict with Russia”. This is according to a special commission tasked by the UN to investigate the situation.
To the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, Erik Mose, who heads the commission, explained that the evidence gathered points to that conclusion.
Although without explicitly indicating who was behind the crimes, with his words he directed attention to Russia since it concerns areas of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces in the first months of the war - parts of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions, as well as areas of Kharkiv, from where Moscow's forces withdrew after a quick Ukrainian counteroffensive.
A few days ago, the Czech Republic proposed the creation of a separate war crimes tribunal in Ukraine.
The crimes listed by the commission include rape of minors, torture, mass executions. A full investigation into the allegations of mass deportations and forced adoptions, including through the so-called filtration centers, Mose added.
At the Human Rights Council meeting, the representative of the United States demanded an investigation into the deportation of between 900,000 and 1.6 million Ukrainians, carried out "according to multiple sources" in the past seven months.
Ukraine supports the understanding that many in eastern Ukraine have been abducted and taken to Russia against their will. Moscow only talks about refugees from the conflict - in the statistics of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, it has submitted data only for 2.2 million refugees.
The conclusions are based on visits by the commission established in March to 27 places in Ukraine and interviews with over 150 victims and witnesses. According to Mose, bodies with bound hands, slit throats and gunshot wounds to the head were found in the areas visited. Victims of sexual violence between the ages of 4 and 82 have also been identified.
Mose linked many of the crimes to Russian forces, but specified that two incidents of mistreatment of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian forces were also looked into.
Testimonies of people held captive by the Russians also speak of cases of beatings, use of electric shocks, forcing detainees to strip naked.
“The number of executions in the areas we visited shocked us. The commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 localities,” said the Chairman of the UN Commission on War Crimes in Ukraine
Reuters notes that investigations launched by the UN Human Rights Council can sometimes be used before national and international courts, such as in the case of a former Syrian intelligence officer jailed for state-sponsored torture in Germany in January.