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Human Rights watch on April 3, Sunday said that the videos of possible Russian POW abuse by Ukraine forces are credible enough to require an effective investigation. It also iterated that, if confirmed, the abuse would amount to a war crime.  Ukraine should ensure an “effective investigation” into alleged abuse by Ukrainian fighters of Russian prisoners of war (POWs), Human Rights Watch said.

“The beating and shooting of captured combatants in their legs would constitute a war crime,” HRW warned, adding that Ukraine needs to demonstrate that it is willing to prevent and punish serious violations of international humanitarian law. 

HRW published a report, stating that videos posted online early on March 27, 2022, appear to show Ukrainian forces abusing captured Russian fighters or combatants, who have prisoner of war status, including shooting three of them in the leg. “The incident appears to have taken place in a village near the city of Kharkiv, which Ukrainian officials had announced retaking two days earlier,” the rights body said.  A video posted on March 28 by a Ukrainian journalist shows three charred bodies at the same location, but it is not clear whether they were Russian soldiers. 

“All the information in the videos that suggests abuse, and maybe worse, of POWs needs to be subject to an effective investigation,” said Aisling Reidy, senior legal advisor at Human Rights Watch. “It should be possible to verify if abuse took place, and from there to hold those responsible to account.”

Adviser to the Ukrainian president, Olexiy Arestovych, acknowledged that abuse of prisoners of war constitutes a war crime and said it will be punished. “I would like to once again remind all our military, civilian, and defense forces that the abuse of prisoners of war is a war crime that has no amnesty under military law and has no statute of limitations,” he posted on Telegram. 


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