Citizens of Ukraine received an SMS from the State Prosecutor General’s Office (GPU) on their mobile phones last Thursday. This organization asked the population to register on a government website testimonies of the war crimes that Russia is committing during the occupation. These documents, indicates the prosecution, will serve in the future to claim compensation before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
“The aggressor country will pay everything!”, announced the headline of the message: “Your testimony, photos and videos will be used as evidence in the international courts in The Hague and Strasbourg, as well as in the Ukrainian courts to punish the invaders, and will have the right to adequate compensation and the reestablishment of the violated rights.” The Government of President Volodímir Zelenski has launched an internet page where the population can download the documentation they collect in the conflict zones. The still widespread access in Ukraine to an internet connection is allowing thousands of citizens to broadcast war episodes through images taken with mobile phones.
On the page enabled by the Government and the GPU, warcrimes.gov.ua, an account of possible violations of human rights and war crimes perpetrated by the Russian Armed Forces and their Ukrainian collaborators is updated, according to the authorities. Ludmila Denisova, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament, reported this Friday that 1,833 complaints of war crimes have been opened, according to the Ukrainian Penal Code, based on the ICC Statute. These complaints would affect some 70 Russian political and military positions. Denisova also reported that 109 minors have been killed in bombings and 130 wounded.
The European Union and governments such as Spain, in addition to the United States, have asked the ICC to investigate possible human rights violations and war crimes committed by Russian forces. The chief prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khan, visited Ukraine last Friday and promised to investigate and prosecute crimes against international humanitarian law.
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The Office of the High Representative for Foreign Policy of the EU issued a statement last Thursday in which it warned that criminally “their perpetrators, as well as political officials and military leaders, will have to assume the consequences of these serious violations and human rights.” . The EU made special mention in the statement to the siege that the city of Mariupol is suffering. The City Council assures that more than 2,000 people would have died in the bombings, 80% of the residential buildings have been damaged and 30% have been completely destroyed. Also the US president, Joe Biden, has spoken of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as a war criminal.
“The Mariupol municipal theater was heavily bombed despite the fact that it was well known, and it was indicated, that it served as a refuge for civilians, including children,” underlines European diplomacy. The office headed by Josep Borrell also cites a report by Human Rights Watch which confirms the use of cluster bombs in the city of Mikolaiv. “These deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are shameful, reprehensible and totally unacceptable. They represent a serious violation of international law.”