In the first result of an independent international investigation into the war in Ukraine, a UN commission concluded that war crimes had been committed in the European country. Presenting its report in Geneva on Friday, the group listed attacks by Russians and even rapes of elderly women by Kremlin soldiers.
Based on its investigations into events in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, Ukraine’s International Independent Commission of Investigation documented violations such as illegal use of explosive weapons, indiscriminate attacks, executions, violations of personal integrity, including torture and executions. ill-treatment and sexual violence.
During its visit to Ukraine in June 2022, the Commission noted the damage done by explosive weapons to residential buildings and infrastructure in populated areas, including schools and hospitals. “Some of the attacks investigated by the commission were carried out without discrimination between civilians and combatants,” he said.
“We were affected by the large number of executions in the regions we visited,” said Commission President Erik Møse. “We are concerned about the suffering caused to the civilian population by the international armed conflict in Ukraine,” he said.
The commission is currently investigating executions in 16 cities and has received credible claims on many other similar cases. Elements common to these crimes include prior arrest of victims and visible signs of execution, such as hands tied behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slits in their throats.
In their view, the witnesses provided the Commission with consistent accounts of ill-treatment and torture during unlawful detention. Some of the victims reported that after their initial detention in Ukraine by Russian forces, they were transferred to the Russian Federation and held in detention centers for weeks, where they were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.
Rape of older women
One aspect that still shocked investigators was the widespread use of sexual violence that Russian soldiers were accused of being responsible for. “The age of victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from four to 82 years old,” he said.
The Commission also found that children were subjected to repeated explosions, rapes, forced displacement and separation from family members, and other abuses.
In the four regions where the investigation was conducted – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumi – the Commission prosecuted two cases of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian forces. Although few in number, such cases remain the subject of the Commission’s attention.
To carry out the study, the group visited 27 cities and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.