UN commission sees ongoing war crimes in Ukraine


There is “continuous evidence” that Russian armed forces are committing war crimes in Ukraine, including unlawful attacks with explosive weapons and attacks harming civilians or targeting energy infrastructure, as well as torture and sexual and gender-based violence, the UN Human Rights Council’sĀ Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine said in its latest update Sept. 25.

During a presentation to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Commission reported that it had documented explosive weapons attacks on residential buildings, a functional medical facility, a railway station, a restaurant, shops and commercial warehouses. These attacks led to civilian casualties, the damage or destruction of key facilities, and the disruption of essential services and supplies.

The Commission said it “deplores that attacks affecting civilians and medical institutions, which have protected status, continue to take place.”

The Commission’s investigations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia also indicate the widespread and systematic use of torture by Russian armed forces against persons accused of being informants for the Ukrainian armed forces. In some cases, torture was inflicted with such brutality that it caused the death of the victim.

One victim who suffered torture through electric shocks stated: “Every time I answered that I didn’t know or didn’t remember something, they gave me electric shocks ā€¦ I don’t know how long it lasted. It felt like an eternity.”

In the Kherson region, Russian soldiers raped and committed sexual violence against women of ages ranging from 19 to 83 years, the Commission found. Frequently, family members were kept in an adjacent room, hence being forced to hear the violations taking place.

AmongĀ the many devastating consequences for children, the Commission has continued to investigate alleged transfers of unaccompanied minors by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation. The Commission said itĀ “regrets that there is a lack of clarity and transparency on the full extent, circumstances, and categories of children transferred.”

The Commission said it is also concerned about allegations of genocide in Ukraine. For instance, some of the rhetoric transmitted in Russian state and other media may constitute “incitement to genocide.” The Commission said it is continuing its investigations on such issues.

The Commission reiterated its “deep concern at the scale and gravity of violations that have been committed in Ukraine by Russian armed forces,” and emphasized the need for accountability. It also recalled “the need for the Ukrainian authorities to expeditiously and thoroughly investigate the few cases of violations by its own forces.”

Since its establishment in March 2022,Ā the Commission has travelled over 10 times to Ukraine. In the course of its mandate, its members and investigators have met with government authorities, members of civil society,Ā international organizations, and other relevant stakeholders. (OHCHR)

See our last reportĀ on war crimes accusations against Russia.

Map: PCL

  1. Russian missile strike kills 50 in Kharkiv region

    A Russian missile tore into a small village in eastern Ukraine as residents were gathering for a memorial service, killing more than 50 civilians, including a six-year-old child, in one of the war’s deadliest attacks, officials in Kyiv said.

    The strike killed at least 51 people and wiped out around one-sixth of the entire village of Hroza, in the eastern Kharkiv region, according to Ukrainian officials. It came as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended a summit of European leaders in Granada, Spain, in a bid to shore up support for his country's fight amid fears of a US-led wobble. (NBC, Politico)

  2. UN opens investigation into Russian air-strike on Kharkiv

    Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, condemned on Oct. 5 a Russian airstrike on the eastern Ukrainian region of Kharkiv that killed at least 51 civilians the previous day. In a press release from Geneva, Throssell reiterated the importance of “strictly respecting”Ā international humanitarian law. (Jurist)

  3. UN investigation: Russia behind deadly air-strike in Kharkiv

    The UN Human Rights office hasĀ concluded that the Oct. 5 missile strike in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region was launched by Russia. The strike, which was labeled the deadliest since Russiaā€™s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, killed 59 people in the small village of Hroza. At the time of the attack, Moscow denied that it was intentionally targeting civilians. However, the UN launched an inquiry into the strike, which yielded the findings published Oct. 31. (Jurist)