Ukraine: UN commission of inquiry again accuses Russia of war crimes

Russia is again accused of war crimes in Ukraine, according to independent experts before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

A staff member of the Odessa Regional Prosecutor's Office inspects damage caused as a result of a Russian military attack, as part of the country's invasion of Ukraine, in Odessa, Ukraine, in this image published on September 25, 2023. © Odessa Regional Prosecutor's Office/Reuters

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With our correspondent in Geneva, Jérémie Lanche

More than a year and a half after the start of the conflict, Russian forces are still committing the worst abuses on the ground. The word genocide is even mentioned, even if the investigators remain very cautious about this accusation.

The experts paid particular attention to areas that have suffered, or are suffering, the occupation of Russian forces, including Kherson and Zaporizhzhia. There, torture is systematic for all those accused of being informants of the Ukrainian army. And it can go as far as death. Investigators also mention the rapes of many women, some over 80 years old, almost in front of their families.

« Several elements challenge us »

War crimes in the middle, perhaps, of genocide. Erik Møse, the chairman of the committee of inquiry, admits that the question is not yet settled. "Several elements challenge us. There is the incitement to genocide propagated by some Russian media. There are also deportations of Ukrainian children to Russian-controlled territories. It has already been said that this is a violation of several international standards. But is it a constituent element of genocide? Our investigation is ongoing," he said.

While the investigators do not hide the fact that Ukrainian forces have also committed human rights violations – especially against the opposing armed forces. They are quick to point out: their number has nothing to do with the abuses committed by the Russian side. And the more time passes, the commission says, the more the gap becomes.

The group of UN investigators also questions some speeches conveyed by the Russian media that could constitute "incitement to genocide" in Ukraine, according to them. Erik Mose, expressed concern "about allegations of genocide in Ukraine", warning that "some statements transmitted by the Russian media and other media may constitute incitement to genocide".

Also listeCARREFOUR DE L'EUROPE – How to judge war crimes committed in Ukraine? Who to do it? And when?

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  • Ukraine
  • Russia
  • Human rights
  • Switzerland