A UN-mandated investigation body on Friday said it found evidence that “war crimes have been committed” during Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.
Violations such as illegal use of explosive weapons, indiscriminate attacks, executions, torture, and sexual and gender-based violence have been carried out since February, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.
Presenting the commission’s report to the UN Human Rights Council, its head Erik Mose said the findings are based on investigations in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Sumy regions.
“We were struck by the large number of executions in the areas that we visited,” said Mose.
“We are concerned about the suffering that the international armed conflict in Ukraine has imposed on the civilian population.”
He explained that the commission is still probing executions in 16 towns and settlements, and has received credible allegations regarding many more such cases.
Common elements of these crimes included prior detention of the victims and visible signs of execution, such as hands tied behind backs, gunshot wounds to the head, and slit throats, according to the report.
“The commission has documented cases in which children have been raped, tortured, and unlawfully confined. Children have also been killed and injured in indiscriminate attacks with explosive weapons,” said the report.
“The exposure to repeated explosions, crimes, forced displacement and separation from family members deeply affected their well-being and mental health.”
The commission visited a total of 27 towns and settlements, and interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses.
Its investigators inspected sites of destruction, graves, and places of detention and torture, and also consulted many documents and reports.
The commission said it also found two incidents of ill-treatment of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian forces.
“While few in number, such cases continue to be the subject of the commission’s attention,” the report said.
In a June visit, the commission observed first-hand the damage that explosive weapons with wide-area effects caused to residential buildings and infrastructure in populated areas, including schools and hospitals.
Thanking the Ukrainian government for “access and cooperation,” the commission said its “attempts to engage in a constructive dialogue with Russian Federation authorities have, regretfully, so far not been successful, but we will persist in our efforts.”
According to the latest figures from the UN Human Rights Office, there have been 14,532 civilian casualties in Ukraine – 5,916 killed and 8,616 injured – since Feb. 24, with the actual figures believed to be considerably higher.