A delegation from Amnesty International, led by Secretary General Agnès Callamard, made an official visit to Ukraine from April 30 to May 6, 2022. The objectives of this visit were fourfold:
Publish Amnesty’s latest findings on war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), including extrajudicial executions in Bucha and airstrikes targeting civilian infrastructure in Borodyanka;
Contribute to ongoing reflections and initiatives on international justice for Ukraine and present Amnesty’s recommendations on accountability for war crimes and the crime of aggression;
Show global solidarity with the Ukrainian people, human rights defenders, Ukrainian Amnesty colleagues, including those who remained in Ukraine;
Emphasize the importance of global solidarity: The events in Ukraine raise serious issues that are not limited to Europe but have a global impact. This requires global leadership and global solidarity, including the countries of the South. In this spirit, we have also sought to respond to accusations of Western double standards in the Ukraine crisis.
The Secretary General warmly thanks the Ukrainian authorities for their availability and support during the visit, including the senior officials of the Office of the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry Reintegration of Temporarily Occupied Territories. , Ministry of Health, as well as the Ombudsman of Ukraine and the Commissioner for Gender Policy.
She and her delegation are particularly grateful to the survivors of human rights violations and war crimes they met in Bucha and Bonodyanka and to members of Ukrainian civil society organizations.
The delegation also held a meeting with AI Ukraine colleagues in the AI Ukraine office, a very moving moment for all present.
The Secretary General presents the findings of the visit and wishes to draw attention to a number of issues that she addressed during her visit to the country.
2. CONTEXT OF THE MISSION
On February 22, 2022, the Russian Duma (Parliament) decided to recognize the “Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “Luhansk People’s Republic” (“LDNR”) in Donbass, eastern Ukraine, as independent states. The Duma also authorized the deployment of Russian military forces outside Russia in Ukraine, calling it a “peacekeeping operation”.
It was the second time that Russia decided to openly occupy sovereign Ukraine following the occupation and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and following its officially denied military presence in eastern Ukraine since then. These actions undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by contravening international law and agreements, including the 2014-2015 Minsk Accords which recognize Donbass as part of Ukraine. The move also canceled a ceasefire agreed under the Minsk Accords and blocks any envisioned peaceful outcome to the eight-year armed conflict between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. The Minsk agreements, which were signed by the representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Russia, Ukraine and the “LDNR”, were also approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and called for a significant degree of autonomy. for the two regions inside Ukraine.
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, crossing its borders and bombarding military targets nearby and in major cities, with some of its forces reaching the
immediate outskirts of kyiv that morning. Over the past two months, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has triggered the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of World War II and has resulted in countless violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. the man.
So far more than 4 million people have left Ukraine, and more are doing so all the time. 3.8 million are officially registered as internally displaced, although the actual number is likely to be much higher. For example, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that 7 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced since 2014.
Amnesty International, and many others, have documented dozens of war crimes and other violations of IHL, primarily by Russian forces, including:
Disproportionate and indiscriminate attacks resulting in civilian deaths and injuries,
Extrajudicial executions, acts of torture, in areas that had been occupied by Russian military forces before their retreat,
Siege warfare tactics, characterized by relentless indiscriminate attacks on densely populated areas, notably in Mariupol,
The use of cluster munitions prohibited by international law,
Disruption of basic public services and communication cuts,
Destruction of civil infrastructure,
Concerns about restrictions on access to medicines and health care,
Abuses against prisoners of war (including by Ukrainian forces).
Efforts to create safe and well-planned humanitarian corridors for civilians to escape have encountered major difficulties. Many Ukrainian civilians were unable to leave the besieged areas, fearing Russian attacks – and some were shot and killed as they tried to flee to safety.
There are continuing major concerns in the eastern part of Ukraine which is currently bearing the brunt of the conflict, and numerous allegations of forced transfers and deportations of populations from the occupied territories.