Geneva Council Condemns Ongoing Rape and Torture by Russian Forces in Ukraine

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Geneva Council unequivocally condemns the disturbing and ongoing incidents of rape and torture perpetrated by Russian forces in Ukraine.

In a harrowing report presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, members of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine unveiled a shocking litany of human rights violations. These include attacks with explosive weapons on residential buildings, civilian infrastructure, and medical institutions, alongside deeply distressing cases of torture and sexual and gender-based violence.

Commission Chair Erik Møse revealed alarming details that leave no room for ambiguity. In the Kherson region, Russian soldiers have committed acts of sexual violence and rape against women ranging from 19 to 83 years of age. These heinous acts were often accompanied by threats and other grave violations of human rights. In heart-wrenching scenarios, family members were forced to bear witness to the atrocities taking place in adjacent rooms.

The Commission’s investigations in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia further indicate the widespread and systematic use of torture by Russian armed forces against individuals suspected of aiding the Ukrainian military. Tragically, some of these instances have resulted in death. A survivor of torture recounted the unimaginable suffering, stating, “Every time I answered that I didn’t know or didn’t remember something, they gave me electric shocks… I don’t know how long it lasted. It felt like an eternity.”

Geneva Council finds these revelations deeply distressing and utterly unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors, firmly believing that justice must prevail.

Moreover, the Commissioners are actively investigating allegations of unaccompanied children being transferred by Russian authorities to the Russian Federation, considering it a top priority in their quest for truth and accountability.

The Commission has also expressed grave concern about allegations of genocide in Ukraine, warning that certain rhetoric disseminated in Russian state and other media outlets may amount to incitement to genocide. The Commission remains steadfast in its pursuit of justice and continues its investigations into these serious matters.

Geneva Council echoes the calls for accountability made by the UN-appointed independent rights investigators. We share their deep regret that all communications addressed to the Russian Federation have gone unanswered. In the same spirit, we urge Ukrainian authorities to promptly and thoroughly investigate the few cases of violations committed by their own forces.

We stand in complete opposition to any suggestion of equivalence in the violations committed by both sides. Mr. Møse, while addressing questions from reporters in Geneva, underscored that the Commission had uncovered a wide spectrum of violations and a large number of them on the Russian side. In contrast, the Ukrainian side had fewer examples, primarily related to indiscriminate attacks and the ill-treatment of Russians in Ukrainian custody.

The latest update from the Commission reflects their ongoing investigations during its second mandate, which began in April of this year. The Commission is now conducting more in-depth investigations into unlawful attacks with explosive weapons, attacks affecting civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence, and attacks on energy infrastructure. They are exploring whether torture and attacks on energy infrastructure may constitute crimes against humanity.

Geneva Council will continue to closely monitor this deeply concerning situation and report on it with the utmost dedication to truth, justice, and the protection of human rights.

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