By Enyichukwu Enemanna
A UN team of experts investigating possible human rights violations in Ukraine by Russia in its seven months invasion on Friday said there are evidences that Moscow committed war crimes.
The Human Rights Council-backed experts from the Commission of Inquiry of UN set up earlier this year focussed on four regions – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy.
During the investigation, the Commission visited 27 towns and spoke with 150 victims and witnesses as part of their initial investigation, inspecting graves and place of detention and torture.
Victims described beatings, electric shocks, and forced nudity in Russian detention centres, the commission said.
“Based on the evidence gathered by the commission, it has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Erik Møse, the commission’s chairman, told the Human Rights Council.
Commission member Pablo de Greiff told reporters the team had “found two instances of ill-treatment of Russian Federation soldiers by Ukrainian soldiers. … We have found obviously significantly larger numbers of incidences that amount to war crimes on the part of the Russian Federation.”
The team travelled in June to Bucha outside Kyiv where authorities found mass graves after Russian forces retreated from the area in late March.
“We were struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited. The commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements,” Møse said, but he did not specify which side allegedly committed the executions.
The experts also found that some Russian soldiers committed sexual or gender-based crimes including sexual violence, torture or inhumane treatment. The victims ranged in age from four to 82-years-old.
The findings echo reports by news outlets and others of the destruction, death and despair in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in late February.
The Commission’s findings could ultimately contribute to the work of International Criminal Court prosecutors who could bring charges over war crimes in Ukraine, although it remains uncertain whether Russia or other alleged perpetrators will ever face justice.