Espreso. Global

Ukraine's prosecutors collect evidence Russia commits genocide 

17 October, 2023 Tuesday

Prosecutor General's Office's special team is building a case against Russia for genocide of Ukrainians

Radio Liberty reported on this based on statements made by Ukraine's Prosecutor General, Andrii Kostin.

Kostin spoke to journalists in Brussels and pointed out that the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia is currently the primary evidence of genocide. 

He explained, "One clear element of the crime of genocide is the forced transfer of children from one group to another. Although we have one such case at present, it's insufficient. As a result, we have established a dedicated team of prosecutors in my office to investigate genocide cases, and we are gradually assembling a complete body of evidence."

He also noted that proving the crime of genocide, especially in a legal context, is quite challenging. Throughout the history of international law, there have been only two convictions for this crime.

Kostin conveyed that when he communicates with international partners, he emphasizes that prosecutors should not be limited by the precedents set by previous international tribunals. He believes that genocide has broader dimensions.

He is confident that Ukraine will eventually gather enough evidence to hold Russia accountable for the genocide, but this process will take time. 

"We have some of the world's leading experts in investigating genocide cases working with us, which means it will be a time-consuming endeavor. However, I am optimistic that we will amass enough evidence for a successful prosecution of those responsible for this crime," Kostin stressed.

Deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia

In the context of a full-scale invasion, Russia is deporting Ukrainian children en masse from the occupied territories of Ukraine. They are taken to the occupied Crimea, Russia, or Belarus, allegedly for rehabilitation or to rest in camps.

On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He is suspected of forcibly deporting Ukrainian children.

On May 13, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said at a briefing in Rome with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni that he was aware of over 19,300 children who had been deported by Russian. On May 29, Dmytro Lubinets, the Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue of Russia's abduction of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. The ombudsman said that Russia deliberately changes legislation to make it impossible for Ukrainian children to return home and uses, among other things, the forced change of their citizenship to Russian.

Lubinets further emphasized that Russia fails to disclose any information regarding the Ukrainian children who have been deported, leaving their whereabouts and living conditions unknown. He also highlighted the practice of using child labor and militarizing Ukrainian children in the areas that are currently under temporary Russian occupation. 

On June 8, a US Senate committee supported a draft resolution condemning the abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia and calling Russia’s actions genocide. Later, evidence emerged of Belarus' involvement in the deportation of Ukrainian children. On June 27, the Belarusian opposition submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court of the involvement of self-proclaimed head of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and his entourage in war crimes.

Russia’s State Duma stated that 700,000 Ukrainian children had been deported to Russia since 2014.

Germany's Foreign Minister called on UN member states to unite and compel Russia to return Ukrainian children to their parents, who were separated from them against their will during the war in Ukraine. The US Senate urged the White House to impose sanctions on individuals involved in the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, along with their unlawful adoption.

On July 29, British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons said that Russians are abducting Ukrainian children to exterminate the next generation of Ukraine's defenders.

On July 31, Russian Children's Ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova said that since the start of the full-scale invasion, Russia has "accepted" about 4.8 million Ukrainians, including over 700,000 children.

On August 1, the US State Department called on Russia to stop deporting Ukrainian children from the occupied territories and to return them home.

The Ukrainian Parliament's Human Rights Commissioner emphasized that Russia's Children's Ombudsman, Lvova-Belova, admitted her country deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children in 2022. This is considered direct evidence for the International Criminal Court.

On September 24, the Canadian House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution condemning the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, labeling these actions by the occupiers as war crimes and genocide.

In October, the International Red Cross called for the resignation of Shevtsov, the head of its Belarusian branch, who had previously acknowledged involvement in the deportation of children from areas in Ukraine temporarily occupied by Russian forces.

Petro Andryushchenko, an advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol, stated that Russia was taking Ukrainian children through the humanitarian mission which was established by Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.

On October 16, Ukraine successfully repatriated three boys and a 17-year-old girl who had been unlawfully deported by Russia during the full-scale invasion.

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