International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and Truth Hounds present their latest report – Attacks on Civilians and Civilian Infrastructure in Eastern Ukraine. The Report sets forth new evidence of international crimes, perpetrated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and Russian-backed separatist militias – the so-called Donetsk Peoples’ Republic (DPR) and Luhansk Peoples’ Republic (LPR), in the context of and associated with the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. This Report follows on from and complements a Report published by IPHR in October 2015 – Fighting Impunity in Eastern Ukraine. It focuses on evidence of attacks intentionally or indiscriminately directed at civilians and/or civilian infrastructure, on the use of civilians as human shields for military operations and equipment, and provides further evidence of cross-border attacks and interventions in the conflict by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (AFRF).
In publishing this Report IPHR and Truth Hounds aim: to provide the public and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC Prosecutor) with evidence of concrete episodes which qualify as war crimes, namely attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure and the use of human shields; to demonstrate the widespread nature of such crimes and their gravity – highlighting that legal requirements for opening a full ICC investigation have been met; to set forth evidence of Russia’s direct involvement in the conflict and its ensuing international character; to urge the ICC Prosecutor to seek authorisation for opening a full investigation at the earliest opportunity to ensure accountability and to prevent the loss of key evidence; and to preserve key evidence for future investigations and prosecutions in Ukraine, at the ICC or in other national or international jurisdictions.
The Report is based on information obtained as a result of 24 field missions to 43 settlements that lie on the so-called ‘contact line’ – a de facto border between areas controlled by UAF and those controlled by Russian-backed separatist militias – the so-called DPR and LPR. In the course of these missions, the Authors interviewed 297 witnesses and documented 208 attack impact sites, as well as collected photographic and video evidence of damage to civilian infrastructure, impact craters, missile remnants and documentary evidence corroborating evidence provided by witnesses. The evidence was analysed using the ICC Statute, ICC Elements of Crimes and applicable jurisprudence.
The Report concludes by drawing the public and ICC Prosecutor’s attention to the seriousness and widespread nature of the crimes described herein, and requests the ICC Prosecutor to seek authorisation to launch a full investigation into these and other crimes alleged to have taken place in Ukraine since the outbreak of the crisis in November 2013.