Recent images from Bucha, Ukraine show human bodies lying in streets and yards in the wake of Russian withdrawal from the area following weeks of intense fighting, say international media reports. One of the bodies of the men had his hands tied, as corpses were strewn over several hundred metres of the residential road in the suburban town northwest of the capital.
Expressing deep regret on the images released on Saturday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an independent investigation into the matter.
The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold its latest meeting in Ukraine on Tuesday.
The images have now shifted the focus from Russian attacks to war crimes with many humanitarian agencies listing the heinous acts of violence against people.
The Russian-Ukraine conflict began on 24 February, and since, 3,455 civilian casualties have been recorded by the UN human rights office, OHCHR, published on Sunday. Of that number, 1,417 persons were killed and 2,038 were injured, with observers believing the figures to be considerably higher. Most casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with a wide impact area, including shelling from heavy artillery and multiple launch rocket systems, and missile and airstrikes.
An international non-governmental organisation, Human Rights Watch has documented several cases of Russian military forces committing laws-of-war violations against civilians in occupied areas of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv in Ukraine. These include a case of repeated rape; two cases of summary execution, one of six men, the other of one man; and other cases of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022. Soldiers were also implicated in looting civilian property, including food, clothing and firewood.
“The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 people, including witnesses, victims and local residents of Russia-occupied territories, in person or by telephone. Some people are asked to be identified only by their first names or by pseudonyms for their protection.