Russia’s movement of Ukrainian children into areas of Ukraine it controls, as well as into its own territory, is a “war crime,” a team of UN investigators said Thursday.
In its first report since Russia launched its offensive against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that “the situations it reviewed involving the transfer and deportation of children within Ukraine and to the Russian Federation, respectively, violate international humanitarian law “. and constitute a war crime.”
According to the people of Kiev, 16,221 children were deported to Russia by the end of February, but the commission was unable to verify these figures.
However, she says that Russian officials have taken legal and political action regarding the transfer of Ukrainian children, and that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in May 2022 making it easier to grant Russian citizenship to some children.
“Scheme of Widespread Illegal Detention”
Investigators also accuse Moscow of committing possible “crimes against humanity.” “The Commission found that the waves of attacks by the Russian armed forces, starting on October 10, 2022, on Ukrainian energy infrastructure and the use of torture by the Russian authorities may constitute crimes against humanity,” she said, recommending further investigations. .
In particular, the Commission established a “system of mass illegal detentions” in areas controlled by the Russian armed forces against many people, including women and children. Certain categories of people held in these “specialized institutions” in Ukraine and Russia, according to investigators, are systematically tortured.
The former detainee, the Commission continues, was beaten as a “punishment for speaking Ukrainian” and for “not remembering the words of the anthem of the Russian Federation.” This type of torture “may constitute a crime against humanity and should be further investigated,” investigators said in a statement.
The commission also tried to test whether the bombing and siege of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine could constitute a crime against humanity. However, she concluded that she lacked the elements to come to that conclusion, since she did not have access to the Donetsk region, where Mariupol, a port city, was besieged for several months by the Russian army before it fell in May 2022. But the Commission recommends continuing the investigation.
56 cities were visited, 348 women and 247 men were interviewed.
This group of investigators was created last year by the UN Human Rights Council, whose 47 member states will have to decide in early April whether or not to renew their mandate. To date, the Commission has visited 56 locations and interviewed 348 women and 247 men. His investigators in particular examined the destroyed areas and places of burials and torture.
This is the first time investigators have released a written report, but last September they indicated to the media that it would then be too early to talk about crimes against humanity, contrary to what NGOs and Ukraine.
On the other hand, they accused Russian forces of committing a “significant number” of war crimes in four regions of Ukraine in the first weeks of the invasion.
The body of evidence they have since collected shows, they say, that Russian forces have “committed a wide range” of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, also known as the law of war. “Many of these are war crimes and include deliberate killings, attacks on civilians, false imprisonment, torture, rape, forced displacement and deportation of children.”
The commission also points out that it found “a small number of violations committed by the Ukrainian armed forces”, in particular two incidents qualified as war crimes, during which Russian prisoners of war were shot, wounded and tortured.