OSCE reports that Russia violated international humanitarian law in Ukraine – JURIST
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found Russia violated international humanitarian law and committed human rights abuses during the invasion of Ukraine.
In a report authorized by the ODIHR, experts found that Russian forces could have avoided the violations by respecting their duty to take “precautions in the event of an attack”. Experts concluded that these precautions would have limited civilian casualties and the loss of structures, water stations and electrical systems. The report also confirmed that Russian forces had committed “violations concerning even the most basic human rights”, including the “right to life, prohibition of torture and other inhuman treatment and punishment”. and degrading).”
the 1991 Moscow Document authorizes the ODIHR to carry out such investigations and to provide expert observations. After Ukraine and 45 participating states invoked the Moscow Mechanism, the ODIHR appointed three experts to investigate the Russian invasion, demanding a full report within three weeks. The ODHIR gave these experts a “broad mandate”, obliging them to establish the facts constituting international violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law and possible war crimes. The experts included their findings in the report “with a view to presenting it to relevant accountability mechanisms, as well as national, regional or international courts or tribunals that have or may in the future have jurisdiction.”
Several NGOs and other sources with investigative capabilities supported the warrant and provided crucial evidence. The Russian Federation, however, did not support the mandate, criticizing the Moscow Mechanism as “largely outdated and redundant”. Given the Russian Federation’s lack of compliance, the experts deemed it “impossible” to report “the Russian position on all relevant incidents, except on the basis of open sources and official websites”.
Although the Russian Federation refused to comply, experts found that Russian forces and Ukraine were responsible for violations of international humanitarian law. Specifically, the report expressed concern about “Ukraine’s treatment of prisoners of war, who were originally considered criminals and treated in a manner inconsistent with Geneva Convention III.” Even so, experts could not confirm Russian Federation claims that Ukraine caused deaths attributed to Russia. In addition, the experts determined that the violations committed by the Russian Federation “are far greater in nature and scale.”
The ODIHR hopes that its report will facilitate future investigations and facilitate determinations regarding legal and political responsibility.