In a damning report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has revealed a plethora of atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in the conflict-ridden region. The Commission declared that they had collected evidence of Russian armed forces using explosive weapons on residential buildings, civilian infrastructure, and medical institutions, as well as instances of torture, sexual violence and gender-based violence.
Commission Chair Erik Møse lamented that women aged between 19 to 83 years had been subject to rape, sexual violation as well as other threats and acts of violence in parts of Kherson.
He stated: “Frequently, family members were kept in an adjacent room, thereby being forced to hear the violations taking place."
Furthermore, Møse commented that the U.N. body had gathered evidence of 'widespread and systematic' torture against those suspected of being informants of the Ukrainian forces, which in some cases resulted in the victim's death. A couple of months ago, Møse's commission visited regions under Russian control in Ukraine and discovered that torture was predominantly occurring in detention centres, even stating that it may constitute crimes against humanity. One such victim of torture quoted by Møse, “Every time I answered that I didn’t know or didn’t remember something, they gave me electric shocks… I don’t know how long it lasted. It felt like an eternity.” On the question of the extent of the torture, Commission member Pablo de Greiff admitted at a press briefing that it was not within the scope of their access to determine the exact numbers but noted that it was a "fairly large number and...it comes from very different regions across the country, both near and far from the frontlines ".
The chair also highlighted cases of alleged transfers of unaccompanied children by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation. Furthermore, stating that it was a priority for the commission, they mentioned that, in the context of genocide, they are “continuing its investigations on such issues”.
Moreover, the U.N. body also discovered a few instances of human rights violations, including indiscriminate attacks and ill-treatment of Russian detainees at the hands of Ukrainian forces. While Kyiv has asserted that they will investigate violations and take appropriate legal action, the "wide spectrum” and “large number of violations” committed by Russian forces "remain unanswered" by Russia.
With the commission's next report to the General Assembly scheduled for October, Møse pledged to conduct “more in-depth investigations” into unlawful attacks with explosive weapons, attacks affecting civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy infrastructure.
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