. At the border with neighboring countries, we saw disbelief and despair. Lines of cars stretch for kilometers. People lack food, water and face freezing temperatures. On the very first day of the invasion, Russian forces used cluster munitions in a strike just outside a hospital in Vuhledar, Donetska region, killing four civilians. Recent attacks in populated areas in Kharkiv and multiple other cities have clearly illustrated the inherently indiscriminate nature of cluster munitions and wide-impact explosive weapons.
The Human Rights Council should urge all parties to take all measures to avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas and to cease using cluster munitions. It should also recall that willful serious violations of international humanitarian law, including targeted, indiscriminate, and disproportionate attacks on civilians, are war crimes.
The Council should urgently establish a Commission of Inquiry into all allegations of international human rights law and human rights violations by all parties in Ukraine, to collect and preserve evidence and identify those responsible. We welcome the decision by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. In Russia, over 6000 anti-war protesters were detained, and multiple independent media outlets have been blocked over their factual reporting on the war. Authorities threaten to block or fine others if they don’t delete content, and interfere with access to social media. Belarussian human rights defenders also reported hundreds of detentions. This too should be subject to Council scrutiny. For eight years, civilians have borne the brunt of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, from indiscriminate attacks to travel restrictions, limited access to food, healthcare, education and basic services.
The Human Rights Council should send a strong message that there will be no impunity for the crimes committed in Ukraine.
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