‘Credible evidence’ found that Russia violated global human rights in Ukraine

Associated Press

Russia’s assault on Ukraine has included “clear patterns” of international humanitarian law violations, an investigative team sanctioned by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said on Wednesday.  

The OSCE report also found “credible evidence” of violations of fundamental human rights in areas of Ukraine that were largely under Russian control.

The report found evidence of torture, killings and inhuman and degrading treatment of people.

It said it had found some evidence of bad behavior by Ukrainian forces, including with how it has treated prisoners of war, but said “violations committed by the Russian Federation, however, are by far larger in nature and scale.”

President Biden on Tuesday said Russian President Vladimir Putin had committed genocide in Ukraine, echoing a charge made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

The OSCE report marks one of the first published investigations into atrocities occurring in Ukraine. The document will be available to judicial bodies aiming to prosecute violators of international humanitarian law. 

The report found that Russia had deliberately struck a maternity hospital in Mariupol on March 9, offering no warning. It labeled it a “clear violation” of international humanitarian law and a war crime. 

The report also cites a March 16 attack on a drama theater in Mariupol where up to 1,300 people had been seeking shelter. Both sides of the theater were clearly marked “children” to discourage an attack. Three hundred people were killed in the strike.

U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter in a Wednesday statement said the report “documents the catalog of inhumanity perpetrated by Russia’s forces in Ukraine.” He also raised concern that “Russia’s atrocities continue even after this report’s conclusion.”   

The OSCE is made up of 68 nations, including European countries, Russia and participating states like the U.S.

A majority of the body voted on March 3 to launch an independent investigation under the auspices of the “Moscow Mechanism,” a measure established in 1991 to investigate and document allegations of humanitarian law violations and war crimes taking place in member states.

The report notes that Russia’s representative to the OSCE rejected participating in the investigation, calling the Moscow Mechanism “largely outdated and redundant,” the investigators wrote.

The report only covers a period of three weeks, between March 15 and April 5, and does not include atrocities discovered in cities and towns surrounding Kyiv after the retreat of Russian forces, including evidence of extrajudicial killings, torture and rape. The report also does not include an alleged Russian attack on a train station in Kramatorsk on April 8, where an estimated 57 civilians were killed as they were trying to flee the city.  

Carpenter, in his remarks, raised concern over new allegations that Russia may have or is preparing to deploy chemical weapons as part of its assault.

“We must now urgently gather the evidence to ensure there is accountability for what could well be another war crime in Ukraine,” the ambassador said. 

The U.S. has not confirmed allegations by Ukrainian forces in Mariupol that Russia has deployed chemical weapons but said it has received credible reports and is looking into whether Russian forces used tear gas with chemical agents to cause strong symptoms and incapacitate Ukrainian forces. 

Tags Human rights International law Joe Biden Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin War crimes

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