GENEVA – Russian soldiers raped and tortured children in Ukraine, a panel of independent legal experts appointed by the United Nations said in a damning statement on Friday that the crimes were committed. War was made during the conflict.
A three-man Investigative Committee set up in April to investigate hostile behavior in four regions of Ukraine made the graphic allegations in an unusually harsh 11-minute statement before the Council. United Nations Human Rights in Geneva.
The chairman of the council, Erik Mose, told the council: “The committee has documented cases of children being raped, tortured and illegally detained.
He added: “Children have also been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons. Repeated exposure to explosions, crime, forced relocation and separation from family members has had a profound effect on their mental health and well-being.”
The report adds more macabre allegations to the list of crimes widely reported by Ukrainian and international investigators about the execution of civilians in Bucha and the mass burial found near the town. Izium after it was recaptured by Ukrainian troops this month.
“Based on the evidence gathered by the Commission, the Commission has concluded that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine,” Mr. Mose said in his statement. He later told reporters that the committee had not yet concluded that the violations were crimes against humanity.
The commission found that several Russian troops engaged in acts of sexual and gender-based violence, with victims ranging in age from 4 to 82 years old.
Mr Mose told the council: “There are examples of relatives being forced to witness crimes, and noted that the committee was documenting the actions of individual soldiers and did not find any evidence. common form of sexual violence as a strategy of war.
The committee’s findings were based on visits to 27 towns and settlements in the Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions, and interviews with more than 150 victims and witnesses. Mr. Mose said experts have examined destroyed sites, graves and places of detention and torture.
“We are affected by the large number of executions in the areas that we have visited,” Mr. Mose told the council, noting that the general characteristics of the executions. Such killings include “prior detention, handcuffs behind the back, gunshot wounds to the head, and neck slits. “
The commission is investigating credible reports of numerous other executions in 16 towns and settlements, he added.
Mr. Mose, a Norwegian judge and former president of the international criminal court prosecuting the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, said that in interviews, witnesses have provided consistent accounts of torture in various cases. detention facility. Some of the victims said they were taken to Russia and held for weeks in prisons, where they said they were beaten, electrocuted and forced naked.
Mose said two cases of mistreatment of Russian soldiers were also recorded. “Despite the small number, such cases continue to be the subject of our attention,” he said.
Russia was not on the panel to hear the commission’s statement or respond to it.
Anton Korynevych, Ukraine’s general ambassador, called for the creation of a special court with specific authority to investigate and prosecute senior Russian leaders.
“We believe there has never been a more appropriate time to fill a glaring void in the structure of international criminal justice,” he said after the committee’s presentation.
Mr. Mose said that the investigative committee will expand the scope of the investigation to consider the camps set up by the Russian authorities, the forced transfer of Ukrainians and the conditions under which adoption families in Russia are being contacted. up.
It also plans to investigate other alleged violations, such as destruction of civil infrastructure and seizure or destruction of economic resources, and will make criminal liability recommendations before United Nations human rights council, he added.