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UN experts conclude war crimes committed in Ukraine conflict

Investigators visited graves, detention centers and torture centers and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.

UN investigators have concluded that war crimes have been committed in the Ukraine conflict, citing Russian bombings of civilian areas, executions, torture and sexual violence.

An independent team of three experts visited 27 towns and settlements and visited tombs, detention facilities and torture centers in four regions: Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy. Their findings are based on interviews with over 150 victims and witnesses.

“Based on the evidence gathered by the Commission, we have concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Eric Moses, head of the investigation team, told the UN Human Rights Council on Friday.

The assertive nature of the statement was unusual. UN investigators typically phrase their findings on international crimes in conditional terms and refer the final determination of war crimes and similar violations to the courts.

The council was set up in May by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) (the highest possible level of inquiry) to investigate crimes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

On the eve of the seven-month anniversary of the war, Moses pointed to “the use of explosive weapons by the Russian Federation with wide-ranging effects in populated areas” and “causing immense harm and suffering to the civilian population.” there is,” he said.

Morse emphasized that many of the attacks the team investigated were “performed without distinguishing between civilians and combatants,” including cluster munition attacks in populated areas.

According to Moses, the team, which plans to expand the investigation beyond the four regions, is particularly interested in “a large number of executions” in the regions they visit and “frequently seen on bodies such as hands.” He was impressed by the “signs of execution”. He was tied up behind, had a gunshot wound to the head, and had his throat slit. “

The commission is currently investigating such fatalities in 16 towns and settlements, Morse said, and has received credible allegations of many more cases and is trying to document them.

Forensic scientists dig a mass grave in the forest outside Izyum, eastern Ukraine, on September 18, 2022.Ukrainian authorities have unearthed about 450 graves outside the once-Russian-occupied city of Izym, some of which were exhumed with signs or signs of torture. [Juan Barreto/AFP]

Investigators also received “consistent reports of ill-treatment and torture committed during illegal detention.”

Some of the victims told investigators they were transferred to Russia and spent weeks in prison. Others “disappeared” following such transfers.

“Interlocutors described beatings, electric shocks, forced nudity, and other types of violations in such detention facilities,” Morse said.

The chairman of the commission said that investigators had “processed two cases of abuses by the Ukrainian army against soldiers of the Russian Federation,” adding that “although the number is small, such cases continue to be the subject of our attention. ” he added.

The team has also documented cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and in several cases Russian soldiers have been documented as perpetrators.

“There are instances of relatives being forced to witness crimes,” he said. “In the cases we investigated, the ages of victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged from 4 to 82 years old.

The commission documented a wide range of crimes against children, including those who were “raped, tortured and illegally imprisoned.”

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