Russia in spotlight over Ukraine atrocities as Human Rights Council meets

Mitt ia increasing number of reports and testimonies points to possible war crimes in Ukraine, especially in areas that until recently were controlled by Russian forces, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet sa that the pattern of abuses continued to be caused “by the use of explosive weapons with effects on large areas of populated areas, such as heavy artillery shelling, including multiple missile systems, and missile and air strikes”.

Russian forces were probably responsible for most of the casualtiesbut so are Ukrainian troops – albeit to a much lesser extent – the UN chief of rights said in a video message.

Highlights the latest harrowing bargain by UN investigators in the Kiev and Cherniviv regions, Bachelet told the forum that 1,000 civilian bodies had been found in the Kyiv region alone. Some had been killed in hostilities, but others appeared to have been summarily executed.

To live in fear

“These killings of civilians often appeared to be intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers. Civilians were killed when they crossed the road or left their shelters to search for food and water. Others were killed when they fled in their vehicles.”

She added: “In the village of Katiuzhanka, Kyiv region, a young couple, their 14-year-old daughter and a grandfather were shot by Russian soldiers while trying to drive to their house. The parents were killed while the child received two gunshot wounds.”

Still others died due to stress for their health caused by hostilities and the lack of medical assistance, the High Commissioner continued, describing how people had been forced to spend weeks in basements because they were threatened by Russian soldiers “with beatings or death” if they tried to leave.

Following Bachelet’s comments, noting that “the Russian Federation is not in the room”, Federico Villegas, Chairman of the Human Rights Council gave the floor to Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister.

Russian no-show

Russia’s absence followed suspension from the Council of the UN General Assembly last month. As a country concerned, Russia could still have participated in the procedure, where Member States were prepared to consider a draft resolution calls for an end to the war and ongoing international support for accountability for its victims, many of whom continue to endure an ongoing humanitarian emergency.

Raped in front of his mother

“This has been 10 weeks of pure horror for the people of my country,” said the Ukrainian representative. “Ten weeks of deep suffering for every Ukrainian family without exception.”

Speaking to the Kyiv council, holding up a sheet of paper showing a dark mass of thick black lines drawn by a victim of sexual violence, Dzheppar claimed that children had been “raped in front of their mothers, like the 11-year-old boy who was raped. in front of his mother, he actually lost the ability to speak after, and the only way he communicates with the world is the black lines, and this is the first picture he drew when he worked with a group of psychologists trying to help him recover . ”

Laws broken

Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, UN-appointed independent rights experts known as Special procedures has expressed deep concern over violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law, including UN Charter.

These include a warning about the blatant abuse of some of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers and foreign nationals in Ukraine.

© UNICEF / Siegfried Modola

Children are waiting for a train in Ukraine for evacuation to Poland in early April 2022.

“Colleagues had also noted with serious concern reports of people of African descent and racist and ethnic minorities being discriminated against when fleeing Ukraine,” said the chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Special procedures, Victor Madrigal-Borlozand insists that “the lives of all people in Ukraine are in danger, including ethnic, national, linguistic and religious minorities”.

Reporters in the risk zone

The conflict had affected regions where different ethnic groups had lived together for several years, the rights expert continued, before issuing a new warning about the dangers of reporting on the war:

“My colleagues referred to many reports that journalists are being targeted, tortured, kidnapped, attacked and killed, or refused to leave the cities and regions safely under siege.”

The probe is starting to work

The special session – the 34th Council since it took office in 2006 – also included an early update from the Supreme Rights Inquiry into Abuse in Ukraine, set up in March, at the request of a majority of the Forum’s Member States.

“Although not a strictly judicial body, one of the Commission’s tasks is to identify, where possible, persons and entities responsible for human rights or international humanitarian law violations or other related crimes.” sa Erik Mose, chairman of Independent International Commission of Inquiry into Ukraine.

Among the countries expressing solidarity with Ukraine, French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont reiterated his country’s condemnation of Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

A wrecked car and damaged buildings in Bucha, Ukraine.

© UNDP / Yevhenii Zavhorodnii

A wrecked car and damaged buildings in Bucha, Ukraine.

“We have said it before and we repeat: there is an aggressor in this war, it is Russia; it is not NATO, not Europe or Ukraine. Let us today show the solidarity of the international community with the people of Ukraine and with all those affected. of the consequences of the Russian aggression. “

Leave a Comment