UNHRC head appoints commission members to investigate Russian war crimes in Ukraine

31 March, 12:17 PM
A pregnant woman died after an air strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol (Photo:Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

A pregnant woman died after an air strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol (Photo:Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council has announced the appointment of three independent members of the recently established Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a press release on March 30.

The International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine is an independent international committee established by the United Nations Human Rights Council on March 4, 2022 with a mandate to investigate violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Federico Villegas (Argentina), on March 30 announced the appointment of Erik Møse of Norway, Jasminka Džumhur of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Pablo de Greiff of Colombia to serve as the three independent members of the recently established Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.

"The Commission of Inquiry was mandated to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and related crimes in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation," reads the press statement.

The three-person Commission has been further requested "to collect, consolidate and analyze evidence of such violations and abuses, including their gender dimension, and to systematically record and preserve all information, documentation and evidence, including interviews, witness testimony and forensic material, consistent with international law standards, in view of any future legal proceedings."

The Commission has been established with an initial duration of one year.

"The investigative body was also requested to identify, where possible, individuals and entities responsible for human rights violations and related crimes committed in Ukraine to ensure they are held accountable. It was mandated to make recommendations with a view to ending impunity and ensuring criminal responsibility, and access to justice for victims," the Human Rights Council said.

The Commissioners, who will serve in their personal capacities, were requested to present an oral update on their work to the Human Rights Council at its 51st session in September 2022 and a comprehensive written report at its 52nd session in March 2023.  They will also submit a report to the UN General Assembly at its 77th session.

On March 10, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris called for an investigation into Russia's war crimes during the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier on March 3, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Karim Khan announced his decision to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine, after the appeal of 39 ICC member states.

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