Human Rights Watch (HRW) Wednesday released documentation of apparent Russian war crimes in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions of Ukraine between late February and March. HRW’s report includes incidents of civilian summary executions, torture and possible enforced disappearances.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, international and national bodies have launched numerous inquiries into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian forces. The International Criminal Court is conducting an ongoing investigation into possible Russian-committed war crimes in Ukraine. Last week, Ukraine began the first trial of a Russian soldier for international war crimes and premeditated murder—the soldier has since pled guilty.
Throughout the conflict, HRW has documented human rights violations and war crimes in Ukraine. The most recent report details 22 apparent summary executions, 9 other unlawful killings, 6 possible enforced disappearances and 7 cases of torture. Additionally, 21 civilians described unlawful confinement in inhuman and degrading conditions. HRW gathered evidence through 65 interviews with former detainees, torture survivors, families of victims and other witnesses. HRW also examined physical evidence of the apparent crimes.
Giorgi Gogia, Associate Europe and Central Asia Director at HRW, commented on the new report, saying, “[t]he numerous atrocities by Russian forces occupying parts of northeastern Ukraine early in the war are abhorrent, unlawful, and cruel. These abuses against civilians are evident war crimes that should be promptly and impartially investigated and appropriately prosecuted.”
Laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions and customary international law, prohibit attacks on civilians, summary executions, torture, enforced disappearances, unlawful confinement and inhumane treatment of detainees.