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War in Ukraine: kyiv denounces an ‘endless list’ of atrocities committed by Russia and the UN announces investigations

Ukraine and its allied countries denounced this Thursday before the UN an “endless list” of atrocities committed by Russia since the invasion that began on February 24, in an extraordinary session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva that was boycotted by Moscow.

Subsequently, the UN Human Rights Council approved by a large majority, launch an investigation into the atrocities attributed to Russian troops.

The resolution, adopted by 33 votes in favour, 2 against (China and Eritrea) and 12 abstentions, calls on the UN international commission on Ukraine to carry out an “investigation” into the serious human rights violations committed in the kyiv regions, in Chernikov, Kharkov and Sumy between the end of February and March 2022, to “call those responsible to account”.

At this Thursday’s meeting called at the request of Ukraine, the 47 member countries of the Council must pronounce on a draft resolution calling for an “investigation” by the United Nations international commission for Ukraine on the serious human rights violations attributed to the Russian occupation troops.

According to the text, these abuses were committed in the areas near kyiv, in Chernikov, Kharkov and Sumy between the end of February and March 2022 and the resolution seeks to “call for those responsible to be held accountable.”

“Thousands of people from my country lost their lives. Russian shelling and shooting are part of our daily life,” Ukraine’s First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said at the opening of the session, in a videoconference address. .

The represent denounced acts of torture, forced disappearance, sexual and gender-based violence.

“The list of Russian crimes is endless,” he denounced before showing a drawing made by a child who was raped in front of his mother in which black lines could be seen.

The destruction in Mariupol, the city in southern Ukraine besieged by Russian troops for more than a month. Photo: REUTERS

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During the discussions, many diplomats allied with kyiv, but also UN officials, expressed their outrage at the suffering of the Ukrainians.

“Russian aggression involves the discovery of more macabre facts every day,” said French ambassador Jérôme Bonnafont. His British counterpart denounced Moscow’s “brutal campaign”.

“War Crimes”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who has already stated that the Russian army committed actions that could constitute “war crimes” in Ukraine, indicated that her office continues to verify the accusations.

“The extension of the illegal executionsincluding the indications of summary executions in the northern areas of kyiv, is shocking,” he said, specifying that so far he has information on 300 cases.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, at this Thursday's special session for Ukraine.  Photo: AFP

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, at this Thursday’s special session for Ukraine. Photo: AFP

“These killings of civilians often appear to have been intentional, perpetrated by soldiers and snipers. Some were killed as they crossed a street and others as they left their refugees to seek food and water,” added the former Chilean president.

The UN High Commissioner also pointed out that they have documented 204 cases of enforced disappearances (169 men, 34 women and 1 child) by Russian soldiers or armed groups that support them.

The main victims were public employees, journalists, activists and retired soldiers.

Bachelet also denounced that the inhabitants of Mariúpol suffered “unimaginable horrors”.

The draft resolution calls for a report on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Mariupol, one of the cities besieged by Russia, at the Council’s 50th session from June 13 to July 8.

A march to demand the end of the Russian invasion, in Geneva, in front of the UN headquarters during the session on Ukraine.  Photo: REUTERS

A march to demand the end of the Russian invasion, in Geneva, in front of the UN headquarters during the session on Ukraine. Photo: REUTERS

This is the first meeting devoted to this issue since the UN General Assembly suspended Russia in early April from the international organization’s human rights body.

Moscow anticipated the suspension by renouncing its status as a member of the Human Rights Council, but as a state it retains the right to participate as an observer country.

Empty chair

This Thursday Russia had the right to ask for the floor to respond, but decided to leave his country’s chair empty.

“The Russian delegation is not going to legitimize with its presence this political spectacle organized in the form of an extraordinary session,” the spokeswoman for Russian diplomacy, Maria Zajárova, announced this week.

On March 4, kyiv succeeded in getting the council to overwhelmingly adopt a resolution to urgently create an independent international investigative commission.

The person appointed to lead the investigation, former Norwegian judge Erik Mose, who was a magistrate of the European Court of Human Rights and presided over the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, indicated that the commission has begun its work but that it still does not have a budget.

Source: AFP

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