In the framework of the Assembly of States Parties to Rome Statute, which is taking place in Hague, UHHRU lawyers took part in the event “Ratification of Rome Statute as the Necessary Step to Counteract Impunity for Serious Crimes in Ukraine”.
A number of human rights non-governmental organizations from Ukraine made presentations at this side-event.
UHHRU lawyers Vitaliya Lebid and Maksym Tymochko presented the survey on the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the East of Ukraine and in Crimea.
At the event, Maksym Tymochko presented the audience the appeal to the International Criminal Court, which was recently prepared by the UHHRU lawyers and analysts in partnership with the Civil Society Organization “Regional Human Rights Center”.
This appeal concerns the war crimes, envisaged by the Article 8 of the Rome Statute, in the form of using the presence of the civilians or other protected persons for defense of certain points, regions or armed forces (use of the “human shield”) from the military actions.
UHHRU lawyer presented the key facts, evidencing the use of civilians by the armed forces of the Russian Federation at the time of active phase of occupation of Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the course of seizure of the major military objects of the Ukrainian armed forces. During the presentation, the circumstances of seizure of the military base in the village Novoozirne in March 2014 were presented. This episode is one of the most vivid examples of how Russian servicemen used civilians with the aim of getting military advantage during the operation on seizing of the Ukrainian military objects. Representatives of Russian armed forces were among civilians in order to avoid the military response from Ukrainian servicemen. Therefore, the servicemen of Ukrainian armed forces could not use weapons as this could cause disproportionate casualties among civilians.
Special attention was paid to the methodology of studying and collecting the evidence, which formed the basis of the appeal to the Prosecutor’s Office of the ICC. UHHRU representative also told about the relevant international court practice, in particular about the cases of using “human shields” in the Balkan conflict, which were heard by the International Tribunal regarding former Yugoslaviya.
The presentation of Vitaliya Lebid was about a war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Slovyansk in the period from April 12 till July 5, 2014, when the city was seized by the terrorists headed by Igor Girkin (alias Igor Strelkov).
The survey was conducted in the framework of Linkage Research Project in cooperation with organization International Partnership for Human Rights. The final results of the research are the communication prepared for the International Criminal Court, containing the evidence of Igor Girkin’s involvement in numerous crimes at the territory of Slovyansk, in particular slaughter of civilian population, torturing and inhuman treatment, illegal detentions, creation of the military-field tribunal, which was imposing sentences of death.
Vitaliya Lebid during the presentation pointed out that though the timeframe and territory of the survey were rather limited, as they had covered only three months of the conflict and concerned only the events in one city, however, this period was crucial for the ongoing armed conflict, which further expanded in the East of Ukraine. Particularly at the initial stage Igor Girkin, who in 2014 declared himself the commander-in-chief of so called DNR, laid the basis for further expanding of the practice of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity throughout the territory of the conflict. The basis for carrying out the survey were the testimonies of witnesses, documents, results of the forensic medical examinations, applications and addresses, published by Girkin, information from open sources. In the result of the analysis of all collected evidences, it was discovered that there were sufficient grounds to consider Girkin to be involved in committing of at least 11 murders of the civilians, 28 cases of illegal detention and inhumane treatment, 15 cases of torturing in the period from April 12 till July 5, 2014. More so there are grounds to consider that in that period about one hundred civilians were illegally detained and were humiliated, all of that was headed by Girkin. Vitaliya also pointed out that evidently the number of victims would be much higher, in case of conducting further investigation. This way, the comprehensive analysis of the collected evidence indicates the criminal liability of Igor Girkin for committing numerous crimes, according to the Rome Statute.
Reference to the video: https://www.facebook.com/IPHRonline/videos/360119898088848/
Reference the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/events/299146737388003/