Thanks to the commendable work of Professors Wolfgang Benedek, Veronika Bílková and Marco Sassòli, we now have the first comprehensive report on violations of international humanitarian law and human rights as well as possible war crimes and crimes against humanity during the first weeks of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
In devastating fashion, the report documents severe breaches of international humanitarian law, fundamental rights and human rights by the Russian forces. It substantiates these with proof, such as the attacks on the children’s clinic and the theatre in Mariupol. The experts state that such a high number of civilian victims would not be possible if Russia had complied with its most basic obligations. The report also documents violations of fundamental human rights such as the right to life and the prohibition of torture, as well as shocking cases of targeted killings and abductions of civilians in the areas controlled by Russia; the latter, according to the report, could constitute a crime against humanity. I am also particularly concerned by the cases mentioned in the report of gender-specific violence, such as rape and sexual violence, seen in the course of the war.
Together with Ukraine and our other international partners, the German Government will do its utmost to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the investigation of these crimes and that the perpetrators are identified in order to be held accountable before national and international courts. We will therefore also continue to support the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in its efforts to document violations of human rights in the course of the war against Ukraine
Germany was one of 45 OSCE states who activated the Moscow Mechanism together with Ukraine on 3 March 2022, in response to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. This mechanism is used to monitor the OSCE states’ implementation of commitments in the organisation’s third, human dimension.
On 15 March 2022, an ad-hoc mission comprising three independent experts was tasked with investigating violations of human rights and international law as well as possible war crimes in the course of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. They were given three weeks to produce a report documenting their findings.
Professors Wolfgang Benedek, Veronika Bílková and Marco Sassòli are world-renowned experts in international law. Their report covers the first five weeks of the war. It was therefore not possible for them to comprehensively cover the events in Bucha and other locations near Kyiv which came to light following the withdrawal of Russian forces from 1 April onwards.