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Clear patterns of serious violations of international humanitarian law

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An OSCE expert report obtained and viewed by SHR Monitor confirmed that “a clear pattern of serious violations of international humanitarian law, mainly attributable to the Russian Armed Forces” is occurring in Ukraine.

The report also concluded that there had been “widespread violations” of international human rights law in the war against Ukraine. The violations were “mainly attributable to the Russian Federation” and occurred mainly “on territory under the effective control of the Russian Federation, including the territory of the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.”

The 115-page report will be released tomorrow, July 14, and will be discussed at the weekly meeting of the OSCE’s permanent council of diplomats in Vienna.

Given the evidence gathered by the experts, the report concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in the current conflict in Ukraine, mainly (though not exclusively) by members of the Russian Armed Forces. the” Federation. ”

This is in line with the findings of the OSCE’s first expert report, published on April 13, covering the period from February 24 (the first day of the Russian invasion) to April 1.

“Serious harm to civilians”

The OSCE’s current expert report states that the invasion of Ukraine resulted in “unnecessary and disproportionate harm to civilians” as a result of the Russian military’s […] deliberate attacks on civilian targets. The report also said that Russian forces deployed cluster munitions and other weapons, causing serious harm to civilians and causing damage to civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, schools and churches.

These are considered violations of international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions.

Given the large number of civilian deaths and the documented destruction of civilian infrastructure, “it is highly unlikely that the military advantage that [Russia] seeks will be sufficient to justify the negative impact on civilians,” the report states.

“This violates the principle of proportionality. In addition, the expected losses are clearly disproportionate and may amount to war crimes,” the report concluded.

Experts also said Russia refused to answer what kind of “military advantage” its military was seeking.

“The events observed by the delegation concerning the cities of Irpin and Irpin are two leading examples of violations of international humanitarian law, which are war crimes under the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols,” the report said.

The report also includes graphic descriptions of torture chambers found in Butcha and other villages.

“In front was a room that looked like it had been used for executions, with bullet holes in the wall,” the report said. “The room downstairs contained two chairs, an empty kettle and a wooden board. The Russians brought two metal springs and another One was leaning against the wall. The footage suggested to Ukrainian investigators that prisoners were tortured here: tied on springs and interrogated; tied to wooden boards and water boards. In that room, five dead people in plainclothes were found. They were covered in burns, bruises and lacerations.”

In Zabuchchya, another village in the Bucha district, the report stated that “18 mutilated bodies of murdered men, women and children were found in the basement: some had their ears cut off, some had their teeth pulled out. .”

Filtering camps and ‘mass deportations’ of Ukrainians to Russia

The report also confirmed the findings of a previous expert report that human rights in Ukraine had been “widespread” violated. International human rights law established the obligation of states to respect, protect and recognize the human rights of citizens. This also applies in times of war.

According to the current report, “Some of the most serious violations include the targeted killing of civilians; […] illegal detention, kidnappings and forced disappearances; […] mass deportations of Ukrainian citizens to Russia; various forms of torture, including torture.” abuse; […] and the death penalty.”

The experts concluded that “any such single act of violence knowingly committed as part of such an attack constitutes a crime against humanity.” This pattern “became more pronounced during the review of this report”.

The report contains harrowing accounts of sexual violence against women and even children. It describes the case of Karina Yershova, 23, from Bucha. She was “kidnapped, raped, tortured and finally shot”. The report also noted that “there have been instances of gang rape or rape in the presence of family members, including children”.

In addition, the experts said they found “two alarming phenomena that were not included or given sufficient attention in the first report”.

This is first and foremost related to the establishment of so-called filter camps by the Russian armed forces, where Ukrainians are held, interrogated and searched. According to eyewitness testimony, people are undergoing “severe interrogations and humiliating medical examinations” in the centres, including Bezimen in the Donetsk region, the report said. Individuals who pass through these filter centers are often transferred to Russia “with or without their consent.”

“Those who do not pass it are often transferred to the territory of two popular republics, the whereabouts of which are largely unknown,” the report continued. This practice of handing over persons or detainees to the authorities of the so-called People’s Republic often means that they will be subject to the “problematic practices” of the separatist authorities who are also sentenced to death.

Ukraine violations

The report also highlighted violations of international humanitarian law by the Ukrainian armed forces, including their treatment of Russian prisoners of war and dead bodies of Russian soldiers.

The report also discusses the Ukrainian government’s practice of detaining Ukrainian citizens deemed “sympathetic to Russia”. They “can be detained for up to 30 days without a court order, and anti-terrorism legislation under military law allows authorities to withhold information about the detention of their clients.” The report’s authors said they discussed with Ukrainian authorities during their visit to Ukraine this issue, and “guarantee” “full respect for human rights”.

The report also highlighted three trials in Ukraine in which Russian soldiers were charged with crimes under international law. The report noted that the trial “led to a positive response in most cases” but “respecting the guarantees of a fair trial during the trial is questionable”.

Occidental sources told SHR Monitor that “the possibility of isolated Ukrainian violations has been discussed and has been discussed with senior Ukrainian officials who have assured regular and ongoing IHL training by Ukrainian service personnel.” Occidental The sources also said Ukraine had provided “assurances” that any potential breaches would be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

“Real-Life Horror Stories”

“This report is a true horror story,” Ambassador Neil Bush, Britain’s permanent representative to the OSCE, told reporters at a background briefing on Thursday. “Due to the actions of the Russian government – the governments of OSCE participating countries – this terror is a daily reality for the Ukrainian people,” he said.

In a statement to the OSCE Permanent Council on Thursday, U.S. Ambassador Michael Carpenter said the report “gives us an opportunity to withdraw and document the unconscionable actions that Russian forces have committed since Russia launched its military operations. Atrocities, human rights violations and abuses. Barbaric full-scale invasion in February in an attempt to seize more territory from Ukraine.”

Carpenter said the documented atrocities were “an affront to the entire organization and every principle it stands for,” adding that “paid defenders of the regime that committed these terrorist acts would have us believe the Ukrainian people. is doing it for myself.”

“But we have facts, not just facts, but evidence, on our side.”

Experts visit Ukraine

The second expert report builds on the information gathered in the first OSCE expert report in April. It also relies on data provided by international organisations, NGOs and the media. The OSCE Panel of Experts also reopened a secure online communication channel through which informants can submit evidence.

Due to the volatile situation on the ground in the weeks leading up to the war, members of the first group of experts were unable to travel to Ukraine, but two members of the second group of experts did visit Ukraine from 20 to 23 June. The members held meetings with Ukrainian government representatives and visited the towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel. They also met witnesses not mentioned in the report due to security concerns.

The mission has no authority to conduct criminal investigations or to seek detailed evidence of individual responsibility for war crimes or crimes against humanity. But the patterns identified in the report will serve as the basis for further investigations and prosecutions by national and international courts such as the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the European Court of Human Rights (European Convention on Human Rights). These national and international judicial bodies will eventually be able to determine the responsibility of individuals and states.

On 2 June, 45 OSCE participating countries, with the support of Ukraine, launched the so-called OSCE Moscow Mechanism and established a team of experts to “consider, follow up and consolidate the receipt of Findings of the Moscow Mechanism Report of “April 12, 2022”, discussing “the human rights and humanitarian impact of the Russian Federation’s acts of aggression and war with the support of Belarus on the Ukrainian people within the internationally recognized order and territorial waters of Ukraine” .

The panel of experts consisted of three international experts: Veronika Bílková (Czech Republic), Ms. Laura Guercio (Italy) and Ms. Vasilka Sancin (Slovenia). The second report covers the time span from April 1 to June 25.

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