Posted by on January 23, 2023 6:46 pm
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UN commissioner accuses Russia of sexually abusing Ukrainian children

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska speaks during the opening of a Russian War Crimes exhibition at Portcullis House, London, Tuesday Nov. 29, 2022. (James Manning/Pool via AP) James Manning/AP

UN commissioner accuses Russia of sexually abusing Ukrainian children

Joel Gehrke January 23, 06:38 PMJanuary 23, 06:38 PM Video Embed

A team of international investigators has collected evidence of a “wide range of sexual abuse” inflicted on Ukrainian children during Russia’s invasion, according to a member of the United Nations commission.

“We have registered a number of crimes against children, including a wide range of sexual abuse,” Jasminka Dzumhur, a member of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, said Monday.

Dzumhur, a lawyer from Bosnia-Herzegovina, is one of three human rights experts leading a panel established under the auspices of the U.N. Human Rights Council in March. That panel has been collecting evidence amid a multifaceted diplomatic push to punish Russia for war crimes.

“When we talk about children, they were wounded or killed by firearms,” Dzhumhur told the Balkan affiliate of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a U.S.-backed outlet. “They were sexually abused. We recorded violations of the rights of children placed in homes for neglected children.”

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Ukraine and some other European states want to establish a special tribunal to indict Russia for launching a war of choice.

“Accountability is what matters,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a Jan. 16 address at The Hague. “And precisely for that crime of crimes that makes so many other crimes possible in the first place — the crime of aggression, the crime committed against the most precious commodity that we have, namely our freedom. No one in the 21st century must be allowed to wage a war of aggression and go unpunished.”

The odds of any international proceeding taking force are diminished by the fact that Russia, as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has the power to veto resolutions brought forward in the council. Some allies hope that the U.N. General Assembly would offer an alternative route to establishing a tribunal.

“Unfortunately, without the General Assembly vote, I don’t see a path forward,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielus Landsbergis told reporters in Brussels on Monday. “Maybe there are interim stages that could be enacted, let’s say a [special prosecutor] for the act of aggression that could already start working, gathering evidence. When we will have a vote in the general assembly, when we will have a special tribunal for the act of aggression, then the evidence could be produced by the prosecutor who already could start working.”

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U.N. officials are investigating allegations against both Russian and Ukrainian forces. “Russian armed forces were responsible for the vast majority of identified violations,” Dzumhur said.

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