UN investigators denounced the forcible removal of Ukrainian children as a war crime

Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova arrives in Moscow with a group of boys illegally transferred from the then-occupied city of Mariupol in October last year. (Presidency of the Russian Federation)

The transfer of Ukrainian children to areas of Ukraine under the control of Moscow already Russia constitutes a “war crime”affirmed this Thursday a group of UN investigators, who also denounced possible crimes against humanity.

In his first report written since Russia launched its offensive against Ukraineon February 24, 2022, the UN Commission of Inquiry concluded that “the situations it examined regarding the transfer and deportation of children, within Ukraine and the Russian Federation respectively, violate international humanitarian law and constitute a crime of war”.

According to kyiv, 16,221 children were deported to Russia until the end of February this year, but the Commission was unable to verify those figures.

Maria Lvova-Belov in her meeting with Vladimir Putin
Maria Lvova-Belova in a meeting with Vladimir Putin. The Russian president signed a decree in May 2022 to make it easier for certain minors to be granted Russian citizenship.

However, he did point out that Russian officials took legal measures and policies concerning the transfer of Ukrainian children and that the Russian President, Vladimir Putinsigned a decree in May 2022 to facilitate the granting of Russian citizenship to some minors.

The investigators also accused the Russian government of having committed possible “crimes against humanity”.

“The commission found that the waves of attacks carried out by the Russian armed forces since October 10, 2022 against the energy infrastructures Ukrainian, and the resort to torture by the Russian authorities could constitute crimes against humanity,” he said, recommending that additional investigations be opened.

The group discovered “a widespread illegal detention scheme” in areas controlled by the Russian armed forces, against several people, including women and children.

Return to Bucha and Irpin - Ukraine War Anniversary - Infobae in Ukraine
In Bucha, near kyiv, the memory of Russian atrocities is still present (Photo: Franco Fafasuli/Infobae) (Franco Fafasuli/)

Of the people detained in those “specialized facilities” located in Ukraine and Russia, some categories were systematically tortured, according to the researchers.

A former detainee was beaten as a “Punishment for having spoken Ukrainian” and for “not having remembered the words of the anthem of the Russian Federation”, indicated the Commission.

A type of torture susceptible to “constitute crimes against humanity” which should be the subject of further investigation, the researchers said in a statement.


The Commission also tried to check whether the bombing and the siege of Mariupolin the southeast of Ukraine, can be considered as a crime against humanity. However, he concluded that items were missing to reach this conclusion, since the researchers could not access the region of Donetskwhere Mariupol is located, a port city besieged for months by the Russian army until it fell into their hands, in May 2022.

Workers lower coffins into a mass grave during a burial at a cemetery in the Staryi Krym settlement on the outskirts of Mariupol, Russian-controlled Ukraine, February 4, 2023. (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo)
Workers lower coffins into a mass grave during a burial at a cemetery in the Staryi Krym settlement on the outskirts of Mariupol, Russian-controlled Ukraine, February 4, 2023. (REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo) (ALEXANDER ERMOCHENKO/ )

The Commission recommended that the case be keep investigating.

The group was created last year by the United Nations Human Rights Councilwhose 47 member states must decide in April whether to extend their mandate or not.

So far, the Commission has visited 56 locations and questioned 348 women and 247 men. His investigators inspected destroyed sites and burial and torture sites.

According to them, the evidence collected shows that the authorities “committed a wide range” of human rights violations and international humanitarian law, also called “laws of war.”

“Many of them are war crimes and include deliberate killings, attacks against civilians, illicit confinements, torture, violations, forced transfers and deportations of children,” the Commission stated.

In addition, he indicated that he reported “a small number of violations committed by the Ukrainian armed forces”, two of which were classified as war crimes, in which Russian prisoners of war were killed, wounded and tortured.

(With information from AFP)

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