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Ukraine’s Real-time Investigations Of War-related Unlawful Killings Sets Unique Model And Requires Full Support

GENEVA (31 May 2024)

A UN expert today commended exceptional efforts by Ukrainian authorities and investigative agencies to establish truth and justice for victims of unlawful killings from the Russian aggression and their families and hold perpetrators accountable.

“I was extremely moved by the resilience and courage of victims and their families, including those who shared their testimonies with me about the harrowing arbitrary killing of their loved ones,” said Morris Tidball-Binz, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in a statement at the end of an official visit to Ukraine.

“I support their pursuit of justice and recent endeavors by authorities to provide them with the support they need, including psycho-social assistance.”

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian authorities documented evidence of 128,498 war-related crimes, of which 12,353 related to the unlawful killing of civilians and soldiers hors de combat committed by Russian forces.

“This is a unique experience in documenting grave violations of International Human Rights and Humanitarian law, and pursuing justice while operating in emergency mode as the war continues,” the expert said.

In addition to Kyiv, Tidball-Binz travelled to Chernihiv, Kharkiv, and Dnipro, where he was able to verify the suffering caused by indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, including the latest shelling in Kharkiv and Dnipro.

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During his visit, the Special Rapporteur witnessed efforts underway to investigate killings, including the remarkable work, in very challenging conditions, of medico-legal and forensic experts to identify victims, establish the cause and circumstances of their death and bring solace to bereaved families.

“These steps are essential to ensure truth, justice, and accountability, and must be fully supported. I hail the Ukrainian Government’s initiatives to scale-up the necessary resources and capabilities and call on the international community to support such efforts,” Tidball-Binz said.

The Special Rapporteur applauded steps taken by Ukrainian authorities to hold perpetrators of unlawful killings accountable. He called on the Russian Federation to fully comply with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law and immediately cease the unlawful killing of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers hors de combat. Russia must also ensure full, reliable and transparent investigations of crimes committed by its officials, and bring those responsible to justice, the expert said.

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