Ukraine 5 AM Coalition provides evidence of war crimes to OSCE experts under Moscow Mechanism

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Coalition of NGOs “Ukraine 5 AM” provided the evidence of war crimes to OSCE experts under the Moscow Mechanism.

Documented and provided information includes:

  • indiscriminate shelling and premeditated killings of civilians
  • strikes on civilian facilities, housing neighbourhoods, kindergartens, schools, etc.
  • targeted attacks on hospitals, dispensaries, hospices, medical staff; obstruction of medical staff’s duties
  • cases of illegal detention, torture, and ill-treatment of civilians detained in the territories occupied by Russia
  • harassment (beatings, executions) of civilians and the use of tear gas against unarmed civilians who took part in peaceful assemblies in the territories occupied by Russia (e.g., near local council buildings)
  • persecution of vulnerable groups, including women, children, LGBT people, HIV-positive people, people with disabilities, and the elderly
  • other facts

The following organizations prepared the materials: Regional Center for Human Rights, Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, Institute for Peace and Common Ground, Social Action Centre, Ukrainian Healthcare Center (UHC), “Almenda” Civic Education Center, Truth Hounds, and Human Rights Centre ZMINA.

According to human rights activist Anastasiya Martynovska, the submission under the Moscow Mechanism is the first major product of the Coalition based on the data collected within the documentation process.

We talked about the events in Mariupol. About how journalists, activists, and local officials were persecuted. About attacks on hospitals and doctors. About shelling of humanitarian convoys. We tried to focus on the most horrible crimes committed by Russians in Ukraine. Virtually every activist who documented an incident has become part of global work. And the information provided by us will form a basis of the report by the international body – the OSCE – on the situation in Ukraine: what crimes were committed, what events illustrate them,” Martynovska said.

Moreover, the representatives of human rights organizations of the Ukraine 5 AM Coalition met with the Moscow Mechanism experts in Vienna on March 28. The meetings were attended by representatives of the Regional Center for Human Rights, the Crimean Human Rights Group, the Human Rights Centre ZMINA, the “Almenda” Civic Education Center, the Media Initiative for Human Rights, Truth Hounds, the Human Rights House Foundation, and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee.

Background. The Moscow Mechanism is an OSCE procedure that allows for the deployment of a short-term international fact-finding mission to address a specific human rights issue in the OSCE region. This mechanism is called “Moscow” because it was adopted during a meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in Moscow in 1991.

The Moscow Mechanism to address the human rights and humanitarian impacts of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine was invoked on 3 March 2022 after consultations between Ukraine and 45 OSCE participating States. Its goal is to “address the human rights and humanitarian impacts of the Russian Federation’s invasion and acts of war, supported by Belarus, on the people of Ukraine, within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and territorial waters.”

It is planned to establish a short-term mission to establish facts to be reflected in the mission’s report. The mission’s activity is provided for by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw.

Ukraine selected three people from the list of experts to be part of the mission: Marco Sassoli, Professor of International Law, University of Geneva; Wolfgang Benedek, University Professor ret. of International Law, University of Graz; Veronika Bílková, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. The experts started working on 15 March 2022.

The Moscow Mechanism was previously invoked in 2020 to examine alleged human rights violations in Belarus.

The Moscow Mechanism was also invoked in 1992 over the events in Croatia and Bosnia. In February 1993, the fact-finding mission recommended that an international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia should be established. Sweden, which chaired the (then) CSCE, submitted a proposal to the UN. Four months later, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was established.