On September 23, 2022, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine (the Commission of Inquiry), a United Nations body established to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Union The Russian Federation provides updates regarding its investigations into human rights violations between February and March 2022, in four regions of Ukraine, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.
After visiting 27 towns and settlements, interviewing more than 150 victims and witnesses and inspecting “sites of destruction, graves, places of detention and torture, as well as weapons remnants, and access to a large number of documents and reports,” among other things, the commission of inquiry concluded that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine.
The commission of inquiry found that the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas is a source of great harm and suffering to civilians. “We have observed for ourselves the damage done by explosive weapons to residential buildings and infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. In the city of Kharkiv, explosive weapons destroyed entire areas of the city.” The Commission of Inquiry found that a number of the attacks it investigated “were carried out without distinction between civilians and combatants… This included attacks with cluster munitions or multiple launch missile systems and airstrikes in populated areas. “.
The commission of inquiry confirmed that a third of the Ukrainian population was forced to flee. And a woman who fled from the Kharkiv region told the team: “I do not live, I only exist; there is nothing left in my soul.”
The commission of inquiry found evidence of a large number of executions in the areas they visited and investigated. As they reported, “Common elements of such crimes include the prior detention of victims as well as the presence of visible signs of executions on the bodies, such as handcuffing behind their backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and throats slit.” Some witnesses reported “beatings, electric shocks, and forced nudity, as well as other types of abuse in […] Detention centers “after being transferred to prisons in Russia.
The Commission of Inquiry found that some soldiers of the Russian Federation committed sexual and gender-based violence, including sexual violence, torture and cruel and inhuman treatment. They add, “In the cases we investigated, the ages of sexual and gender-based violence victims ranged from 4 to 82.” They documented cases in which “children were subjected to rape, torture and unlawful imprisonment. Children were also killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons.”
The Commission of Inquiry will continue to investigate the atrocities and will seek to investigate other abuses, including the destruction of civilian infrastructure; allocating or destroying economic resources; violations of the right to food; and the legitimacy of changes in local administration, which may have far-reaching consequences.
Russia was not represented in the room because the commission of inquiry was modernizing the United Nations.
After the update from the commission of inquiry, several permanent missions to the United Nations spoke about Putin’s atrocities in Ukraine, among other things, atrocities against children, their forced deportations to Russia and illegal adoption. They are calling for urgent action.