A team of experts hired by the UN’s top human rights body to investigate human rights abuses in Ukraine said its initial probe uncovered evidence of war crimes following the Russian invasion nearly seven months ago.
Experts from the commission of inquiry into Ukraine commissioned by the Human Rights Council earlier this year have so far focused on four regions – Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy.
They presented their most comprehensive findings yet, citing testimonies from former inmates about beatings, electric shocks and enforced nudity in Russian detention centers and expressing grave concern about executions in the four regions.
“We were struck by the large number of executions in the areas we visited. The commission is currently investigating such deaths in 16 towns and settlements,” said Erik Mose, the chair of the commission.
He said his team had received “credible allegations regarding many other instances of executions” and was documenting them.
Investigators visited 27 towns and settlements, as well as graves, detention and torture centers; interviewed more than 150 victims and witnesses; and met with stakeholders and government officials, he said.
“Based on the evidence collected by the commission, it has come to the conclusion that war crimes were being committed in Ukraine,” Moses said, without specifying which side in the war committed the alleged crimes.
He said the team investigated two cases of mistreatment of Russian soldiers by Ukrainian forces.
Moses said an unspecified number of Russian soldiers had committed crimes of sexual or gender-based violence – with victims ranging in age from 4 to 82.
The commission plans to gradually expand its investigation, with areas of interest including allegations of filtration camps for people who are detained or deported, the forced transfer of people, and allegations of accelerated adoption of children.