“An expert mission should probe deportation of Ukraine’s children”
Washington: The United States and 44 other countries, with the support of Ukraine, sought setting up of an expert mission to be set up to examine allegations of the forced transfer of children in those parts of Ukraine’s territory temporarily controlled or occupied by Russia, as well as allegations that Ukraine’s children have been deported to the Russian Federation.
These 45 countries invoked the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism requesting that the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) establish the expert mission to examine.
“This expert mission will look into whether such actions and any abuses associated with or resulting from them violate international law constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity, and/or contravene relevant OSCE commitments. This mission will also be tasked with collecting, consolidating, and analyzing any evidence that could be shared with relevant accountability mechanisms as well as national, regional, or international courts or tribunals that may have jurisdiction,” Vendant Patel, US Department of State’s principal deputy spokesperson, said.
This invocation follows OSCE’s April and July 2022 Moscow Mechanism Mission Reports, which were requested by the United States and 44 other countries. Those investigations documented widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by Russian Federation forces in Ukraine. They further catalogued “extensive evidence” of direct targeting of civilians, attacks on medical facilities, rape, torture, summary executions, looting, and forced deportation of civilians to Russia, including children, constituting “clear patterns of serious violations of international humanitarian law attributable mostly to Russia’s armed forces…in the territories under the effective control of the Russian Federation.”
In times of war, children are among the most vulnerable and require special attention and protection. Forcibly transferring or deporting children who have been separated from their families or legal guardians risks exposing them to further abuses. “We urge relevant authorities to cooperate fully with the expert mission and facilitate its work. The United States and our partners remain steadfastly committed to supporting Ukraine and holding the Russian Federation to account for its unconscionable abuses,” Patel said.
Earlier, the US also expressed its support for the development of a special tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine in the form of an internationalized court that is rooted in Ukraine’s judicial system with international elements. The US stated it envisioned such a court having significant international support, particularly from its European partners, and ideally located in another country in Europe. “We believe that the special tribunal should be rooted in Ukraine’s domestic judicial system as this will provide the clearest path to establishing a new tribunal and maximize our chances of achieving meaningful accountability,” Patel said, adding that the US had engaged with Ukraine on this issue.
A tribunal of this type, the US stated, would enable the prosecution of crimes of aggression, and it would complement the work that will be undertaken by the International Center for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression by ensuring that the information and evidence collected by the centre can be effectively put towards accountability purposes.
“I would also say broadly that the U.S. supports all international efforts to examine atrocities in Ukraine, including the investigation by the ICC and the reporting by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine. Obviously, the key aspect here is the piece about aggression, which is what would set this special tribunal apart,” Patel said.
– global bihari bureau