BY ALEX BALUKU
Baluku is a distinguished Fellow of the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists, currently reporting from the United States of America on the 78th UN General Assembly. With a keen eye for global affairs and a commitment to delivering insightful coverage of UN activities, Baluku brings a unique perspective to the world of international journalism.
In a shocking revelation, a new United Nations report has uncovered alarming evidence of war crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by Russian authorities in Ukraine. This latest report, released by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, has intensified global calls for immediate action to address the grave humanitarian crisis.
The report, published on Friday, builds upon a previous study issued in March, revealing a pattern of continuous violence and disregard for human rights in the war-torn region. The evidence presented paints a grim picture of the situation in Ukraine, with torture, rape, and the deportation of children being carried out by Russian authorities.
One of the most disturbing findings in the report highlights a series of indiscriminate attacks involving explosive weapons, which have resulted in casualties, destruction, and damage to civilian structures. For example, in April, a tragic incident occurred in Uman, a city in the Cherkasy region, where a multistory residential apartment block was targeted, resulting in the deaths of 24 individuals, predominantly women and children. Part of the building became uninhabitable, leaving the survivors traumatized and displaced.
Commissioners who conducted the investigation met with residents during their recent visit to Ukraine, providing first-hand accounts of the suffering inflicted on innocent civilians. The report highlights a profound disregard for human dignity by Russian authorities, who have subjected detainees to widespread and systematic torture in various detention facilities. The use of torture follows a disturbing pattern, primarily targeting men suspected of collaborating with Ukrainian authorities or supporting the Ukrainian armed forces.
Disturbingly, the evidence collected in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions indicates that Russian authorities consistently employ brutal methods of torture, sometimes leading to the death of victims. Victims and witnesses have recounted horrifying situations where individuals were subjected to severe beatings, strangulation, suffocation, slashing, shootings near the head, and even willful killings.
One particularly harrowing account involves the rape and torture of a 75-year-old woman who had stayed alone to protect her property. A Russian soldier subjected her to unspeakable brutality, assaulting her physically and sexually. The soldier forcibly undressed the elderly woman, used a sharp object to cut her abdomen, and raped her multiple times, causing broken ribs and teeth. Such traumatic experiences have long-lasting, devastating impacts on the physical and mental health of victims, as outlined in the report.
The report also documents instances of unlawful child deportations. The Commissioners found that the transfer of 31 Ukrainian children to Russia in May 2022 was an unlawful deportation, constituting a war crime. This revelation underscores the urgent need to address the plight of these vulnerable children, who have been forcibly removed from their homes and communities.
While the report primarily focuses on the actions of Russian authorities, it also highlights several cases of human rights violations committed by Ukrainian authorities against individuals accused of collaborating with Russia. In light of these findings, the report emphasizes the importance of accountability and justice, ensuring that the rights of the victims are fully respected and protected.
The Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine was established by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2022, shortly after the commencement of the full-scale Russian invasion. Their mandate was extended in April for an additional year, demonstrating the ongoing commitment to uncovering the truth and addressing the grave violations occurring in the region.
As the world processes the shocking revelations of this report, international pressure is mounting for swift and decisive action to end the suffering in Ukraine. The global community is now faced with a critical moral imperative to hold those responsible for these heinous acts accountable and to provide immediate assistance to the victims of this devastating conflict.