The attacks on the Russian energy grid, the torture in Ukraine could be crimes against humanity: UN rights inquiry


According to the Commission of Inquiry into Ukraine, set up a year ago at the request of the Human Rights Council, Russian troops across the country have committed a “wide range” of violations, many of them war crimes.

This one included attacks with explosive weapons in populated areas, deliberate killing of civilians, unlawful imprisonment, torture, rape and other sexual violenceas well as unlawful removals and deportations of children.

In addition, Russian attacks fall on Ukraine’s energy grid left millions without power at freezing temperatures.

President Erik Møse said in Geneva that the Commission has determined that “the waves of attacks from 10 October 2022 on Ukraine’s energy-related infrastructure by the Russian armed forces and the use of torture by the Russian authorities may amount to crimes against humanity”. , recommends further research.

Patron of war crimes

For the report, which covers nine Ukrainian regions, researchers visited and interviewed 56 cities nearly 600 witnesses.

The findings build on the Commission’s first report released in October last year discovered that war crimes had been committed by Russia in the Kiev, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions early in the conflict.

Attacks on civilian infrastructure

According to the commissars, Russian forces committed “random and disproportionate” attacks in areas with a high concentration of civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law.

These attacks hit residential buildings, hospitals and shops, causing civilian casualties and indicating a “pattern of contempt on the part of the Russian armed forces for the requirement to minimize civilian damage”.

UNOCHA/Serhii Korovayny

The destruction of buildings and infrastructure in Ukraine has caused widespread environmental damage.

Need for further investigation into systematic torture

A key finding of the report relates to “widespread” unlawful detention in areas controlled by Russian forces, which goes hand in hand with “consistent” torture methods by Russian authorities.

Commissioner Pablo de Greiff said that Russian authorities used torture in a “systematic” manner in the areas investigated by the Commission, and that “elements of plans and availability of resources”, indicating the Russian authorities may have committed crimes against humanity.

He added that the Commission recommends further investigation “to determine whether those violations were committed in furtherance of a specific policy.”

Sexual violence and deportation of children

The report highlights “numerous” cases of rape and sexual violence committed by Russian military personnel, particularly during searches of cities that came under their control, and in detention. Commissioner Jasminka Džumhur said that the victims were men, women and children from four to 82 years old.

Another war crime committed by the Russian authorities is the transfer and deportation of children who have lost their parents or were separated from them, from Ukraine to Russia. The report states that these transfers “were not justified by security or medical reasons”, and thus violate international humanitarian law.

According to witnesses interviewed by the Commission, “many of the transferred younger children were unable to establish contact with their families and lose contact with them indefinitely”.

The Commission also documented a “limited number” of violations committed by Ukrainian armed forcesincluding two incidents qualifying as war crimes in which Russian prisoners of war were shot, wounded and tortured.

Need for accountability

The report highlights the “deep loss and trauma” of survivors and recommends that all perpetrators of offenses and crimes be held accountable by legal proceedings in accordance with international human rights standards“whether at national or international level”.

The Commission also advocated a “comprehensive” approach to liability that encompasses criminal responsibility as well as the victims’ right to truth, reparation and recurrence.

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