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War in Ukraine: It is too early to draw conclusions on war crimes

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The chairman of the UN commission on the war in Ukraine, Erik Mosek, indicated on Wednesday that it was still too early to be able to draw conclusions on certain events and their legal qualification. The latter nevertheless specifies that the various testimonies and visits can support the allegations of war crimes.

The UN commission on Ukraine has collected multiple allegations of possible war crimes committed by Russian forces in the country, but it is too early to draw conclusions, its chairman said on Wednesday. “In Boutcha and Irpin, the commission received reports of arbitrary killings of civilians, destruction and looting of property, as well as attacks on civilian infrastructure, including schools,” said commission chairman Erik Mosek, during a press conference in kyiv.

“We are not in a position to make factual findings”

After the withdrawal of Russian troops, hundreds of bodies of civilians were discovered in these localities located northwest of kyiv. Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of war crimes, which Moscow has denied. In the regions of Kharkiv and Sumy (north-east), shelled by the Russian army, the commission observed “the destruction of large urban areas, which would be the consequence of aerial bombardments, bombardments or missile strikes against civilian targets,” he added. But “at this stage, we are not in a position to make factual findings or to comment on questions relating to the legal qualification of the events”, he observed.

Crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine?

“However, subject to further confirmation, the information received and the destruction sites visited may support allegations that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, up to and including war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in these regions,” said Erik Mosek. He was speaking at the end of work started on June 7 during this first mission mandated by the international commission of inquiry created by the UN Human Rights Council in May.

During visits to Boutcha, Irpin, Kharkiv and Sumy, the commission met local authorities, civil society organizations and collected testimonies from civilians. “It is one thing to witness mass destruction for example, to receive accounts of deliberate killings, but another is to reach a decision on responsibility with the legal qualification of these facts,” added a member of the commission. , Pablo de Greiff. The commission will continue its work next month.

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