UN experts concluded war crimes committed in the Ukraine conflict | Russia-Ukraine war news

Investigators visited graves and detention 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, listing Russian bombings of civilian areas, executions, torture and sexual violence.

A team of three independent experts visited 27 cities and settlements, as well as graves and detention and torture centers in four regions – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy. Their findings are based on interviews with more than 150 victims and witnesses.

“Based on the evidence collected by the commission, it concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Erik Mose, head of the research team, said at the UN Human Rights Council on Friday.

The categorical nature of the statement was unusual. UN investigators typically present their findings on international crimes in conditional language, referring final confirmation of war crimes and similar violations to the courts.

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

Speaking a day before the seven-month anniversary of the war, Mose pointed to “the Russian Federation’s use of large-scale explosive weapons in populated areas”, which he said was “a source of immense harm and suffering to civilians”.

Mose emphasized that several of the attacks the team had investigated “were carried out without distinguishing between civilians and combatants,” including cluster munition attacks in populated areas.

Mose said the team, which plans to expand the investigation beyond the four areas, had been particularly “struck by the high number of executions in the areas” they visited and the frequent “visible signs of execution on the bodies, such as the hands.” Tied behind, gunshot wounds to the head and throats cut”.

Mose said the commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 cities and towns and has received credible allegations of many more that it is trying to document.

Forensic technicians excavate the site of a mass grave in a forest on the outskirts of Izyum, eastern Ukraine, on September 18, 2022. Ukrainian authorities discovered about 450 graves, some of which contained exhumed bodies, near the former Russian-occupied city of Izyum. of torture [Juan Barreto/AFP]

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

Some victims had told investigators they were taken to Russia and held in prison for weeks. Others were “disappeared” after such transfers.

“Interviewees described beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity, as well as other types of abuse in such detention facilities,” Mose said.

The head of the commission said that investigators have also “processed two cases of ill-treatment of soldiers of the Russian Federation by Ukrainian forces”, adding that “although these cases are few, such cases continue to be under our attention”.

The team had also documented incidents of sexual and gender-based violence, Mose said, in some cases identifying the perpetrators as Russian soldiers.

“There are examples of cases where relatives were forced to witness crimes,” he said. “In the cases we investigated, the victims of sexual and gender-based violence ranged in age from four to 82.”

He said the commission had documented a large number of crimes against children, including children who were “raped, tortured and illegally imprisoned”.