Rights experts report that Russian forces are still carrying out acts of rape and torture in Ukraine.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine informed the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that they have gathered evidence of explosions targeting residential buildings, civilian facilities, and medical centers, as well as instances of torture and sexual and gender-based violence.
The Chair of the Commission, Erik Møse, shared disturbing information with the Council. He reported that in the Kherson region, Russian soldiers engaged in sexual violence and rape against women between the ages of 19 and 83. These acts were often accompanied by threats and other violations.
According to Mr. Møse, it was common for family members to be held in a nearby room and forced to listen to the violations occurring.
The Commission’s findings in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia suggest that Russian armed forces have engaged in the widespread and systematic use of torture against individuals suspected of being informants for the Ukrainian military, resulting in fatalities in certain instances.
Mr. Møse recounted the words of a torture survivor who stated, “Whenever I responded with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I don’t remember,’ they would administer electric shocks… I cannot recall how long it went on for. It seemed to last forever.”
Investigating the transfer of children is a top concern.
The Commissioners stated that they have been actively looking into reported cases of unaccompanied children being transferred by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation.
Mr. Møse reassured the Council that this item is still a top priority for us.
Potential encouragement of genocide
The Commission expressed worry over accusations of genocide in Ukraine, cautioning that certain language used in Russian state and other media may possibly encourage genocide.
According to Mr. Møse, the Commission is still conducting investigations into these matters.
Call for accountability
The independent rights investigators appointed by the UN stressed the importance of holding those responsible accountable and expressed disappointment that their attempts to communicate with the Russian Federation have gone unanswered.
The Commissioners emphasized the need for the Ukrainian authorities to promptly and comprehensively investigate any instances of misconduct by their own forces.
The independent investigators appointed by the UN strongly denied any claims of equal wrongdoing by both parties in response to questions from journalists in Geneva on Monday.
Mr. Møse emphasized that the Commission discovered a significant range and numerous instances of violations on the Russian side. Regarding the Ukrainian side, there were a limited number of instances concerning indiscriminate attacks and mistreatment of Russians while under Ukrainian captivity, he stated.
More in-depth investigations
The most recent update reflects the ongoing investigations of the Commission during its second term, which began in April of this year.
Mr. Møse stated that his team is currently conducting thorough investigations into illegal assaults involving explosive weapons, assaults that harm innocent civilians, acts of torture, cases of sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy facilities.
The Commissioners stated that this could possibly provide clarification on whether torture and assaults on energy infrastructure are considered crimes against humanity.
The Human Rights Council created the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine on March 4, 2022. Its purpose is to examine any reported human rights violations, breaches of international humanitarian law, and associated crimes in relation to Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
The members of the committee include Erik Møse as the Chair, alongside Pablo de Greiff and Vrinda Grover. They are not employed by the United Nations and are not compensated for their contributions.
The Council voted to prolong the Commission of Inquiry’s term last April for an additional year. The next report to the General Assembly is scheduled for October.