UN rights experts point to war crimes in Ukraine

GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the top U.N. human rights body to investigate rights abuses in Ukraine said on Friday that its preliminary investigation had found evidence of war crimes in the country following Russia’s invasion nearly seven months ago.

Experts from the Ukrainian Commission of Inquiry authorized by the Human Rights Council earlier this year have so far focused on four regions – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.

Presenting their most extensive findings to date, they cited former detainees’ testimonies of beatings, electric shocks and forced nudity in Russian detention facilities, and expressed grave concern about executions in four regions.

“We were struck by the high number of executions in the areas we visited. The commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 cities and towns,” commission chairman Erik Mose said, without specifying who or which side allegedly carried out the killings in the war.

He told members of the Human Rights Council on Friday that his team had received and documented “credible allegations of many other executions”.

After the report of the commission, the ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Anton Korynevich, joined the representatives of several Western countries who spoke out against Moscow’s war. The Russian delegation boycotted the Council meeting.

Commission investigators visited 27 cities and settlements, as well as graves and detention and torture centers; interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses; and met with advocacy groups and government officials, Mose said.

“Based on the evidence gathered by the commission, it concluded that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine,” he said.

He said the team had investigated two cases of abuse of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian forces.

Mose said an unspecified number of Russian soldiers have committed crimes of sexual or gender-based violence, with victims ranging in age from 4 to 82 years old.

The commission plans to gradually expand its investigation, with areas of interest including allegations of detention or deportation filtering camps, forced transfers of people and allegations of rapid adoption of children.

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