UN Human Rights Council votes to investigate ‘deteriorating human rights situation’ in Ukraine

·2 min read

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted Thursday to launch an investigation into the “deteriorating human rights situation” in Ukraine resulting from Russia’s invasion of the country.

Of the 47 countries on the UNHRC, 33 voted “yes” on the proposition to increase scrutiny on the situation, while only China and Eritrea voted “no.”

Countries abstaining from the vote included Armenia, Bolivia, Cameroon, Cuba, India, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Pakistan, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said during a special session of the body that her office is continuing to work to verify alleged violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in Ukraine, “many of which may amount to war crimes.”

She said the vast majority of civilian casualties in the Russia-Ukraine war have been caused “by the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas, such as shelling from heavy artillery, including multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and air strikes.”

Bachelet detailed the findings of U.N. investigators who traveled to villages in the areas around Kyiv and Chernihiv last week. She said the bodies of 1,000 deceased civilians had been recovered in the Kyiv region, adding that some of the civilians were killed in the line of fire but many seem to have been abruptly executed.

“These killings of civilians often appeared to be intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers. Civilians were killed when crossing the road or leaving their shelters to seek food and water. Others were killed as they fled in their vehicles,” Bachelet said.

Emine Dzheppar, Ukraine’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs, also spoke during the session, offering further accounts of Russian aggression in the country.

“These have been 10 weeks of sheer horror to the people of my country,” she said. “Ten weeks of time of deep suffering for every Ukrainian family without exception.”

She described alleged atrocities perpetrated by Russian forces, including the rape of children in front of their mothers.

“Colleagues had also noted with serious concern reports of people of African descent and racial and ethnic minorities being subjected to discriminatory treatment as they flee Ukraine,” said Chair of the U.N.’s Coordination Committee of Special Procedures Victor Madrigal-Borloz.

Madrigal-Borloz claimed that “the lives of all people of Ukraine are in danger, including ethnic, national, linguistic and religious minorities.”

The U.N. General Assembly voted last month to suspend Russia from the UNHRC amid the conflict in Ukraine. Earlier this week it approved the Czech Republic to replace Russia on the body.

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