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Russia: Charging 92 members of Ukraine’s military with ‘crimes against humanity’ brazenly undermines fair trial rights

Responding to the news that 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces have reportedly been charged with “crimes against humanity”, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“In charging these 92 members of the Ukrainian armed forces in proceedings that lack transparency and rely on, and seek to feed, misinformation, the Russian authorities have once again revealed their brazen disregard for international fair trial rights and international humanitarian law.

“The Geneva Conventions clearly state that prisoners of war, including members of armed forces, are protected from prosecution for taking part in hostilities. If individuals are to be charged with alleged crimes against humanity, there must be sufficient evidence to support such a claim. The Russian authorities have shared no evidence to support these charges. Instead, they deployed disinformation blaming Ukrainian forces for acts such as the destruction of the Mariupol theatre, a civilian building shattered by a deliberate Russian attack.

“If the Russian authorities try prisoners of war on these charges, they will violate the Third Geneva Convention. Willfully depriving a prisoner of war of fair trial rights constitutes a war crime. The Russian authorities must only prosecute prisoners of war if there is genuine, admissible evidence of war crimes or crimes against humanity, in which case they must be afforded their right to a fair trial in accordance with international standards.”

Background

Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, told government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Monday that Russian authorities had enacted more than 1,300 criminal investigations against more than 400 Ukrainian nationals. He added that at least 220 individuals are suspected of committing “crimes against the peace and security of humanity”, while 92 members of the Ukrainian forces have reportedly already been charged.

The news follows a case in early June when a separatist “court” in Russia-occupied Donetsk ordered the death of two captured British nationals and a captured Moroccan national.

Ukraine is also carrying out investigations into tens of thousands of war crimes, and war-related crimes, allegedly committed by Russian soldiers. The speed of at least one such trial, which resulted in May in the conviction of Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier who killed a 62-year-old civilian in the first days of the war, has raised concerns over fair trial rights.

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