Friday’s UN human rights office pointed out growing evidence of war crimes following the Russian invasion in Ukraine. It declared that humanitarian law had been “tossed aside.”
Michelle Bachelet is the U.N. high-commissar for human rights. She stated that “our work so far has detailed a horrendous story of violations against civilians.”
Since the conflict began on February 24, her office has confirmed 5,264 civilian casualties including 2,345 deaths. It said that 92.3% of those were recorded in Ukrainian government-controlled territory. It uses a strict methodology and long ago admitted that the confirmed numbers are not accurate.
Bachelet stated that “the actual numbers will be much higher” as more information is available from Mariupol, where there is intense fighting.
She added that “over these eight weeks, the international humanitarian law was not only ignored, but also seemingly tossed aside.”
In a statement, her office stated that Russian armed forces had “indiscriminately bombed populated places, killing civilians, and destroying hospitals, schools, and other civil infrastructure — actions that may be considered war crimes.”
Bachelet stated that the “scale of summary executions civilians in areas previously held by Russian forces” is growing.
Her office stated that U.N. human right officers visited Bucha on April 9 and documented the unlawful killing of 50 civilians. More than 300 claims of civilian killings have been made to the U.N. mission in Kyiv (Chernihiv), Kharkiv, Sumy and Kharkiv regions.
Russian officials denied that their soldiers had killed civilians in Bucha or other Kyiv towns, where they retreated three week ago. They also accused Ukraine of staging the atrocities.
According to the U.N. rights officer, its mission has also recorded 114 attacks against medical facilities. However, it is possible that the real number will be significantly higher.
Bachelet stated that “at least 3,000 civilians died due to inability to get medical care or because of the stress caused by hostilities.” This includes being forced to live in basements by the Russian armed forces or being denied entry to their homes for several days or weeks.
So far, the U.N. has received 75 complaints of Russian soldiers committing sexual violence against women, girls, and men. Most of these cases were in the Kyiv region. According to the human rights office, detention of civilians has “become a common practice” in areas under control by Russian forces or affiliated groups. 155 cases have been reported.
According to the report, it received information on “alleged arbitrary or incommunicado arrests” by Ukrainian forces and people who were aligned with them. It also pointed out videos from both sides that showed the torture, intimidation, and killing of prisoners of war.