This Tuesday, the United Nations condemned Russia’s intention to prosecute Ukrainian citizens locked in cages and exposed on stage at the theater in Mariupol. The international organization warned Moscow that it would be committing a war crime if it illegally tried and publicly mocked the prisoners captured after the fall of the city of Mariupol.
The spokesperson of the United Nations Office for Human Rights, Rabbi Shamdasaniwarned that there are clear signs that Russia and armed groups acting on its orders in Donetsk (the eastern province of Ukraine) are preparing the trial of prisoners of war that they intend to put in cells they are building in a public building in Mariupol.
“In the press and social networks there are videos and photos of the construction of huge cells in the courtyard of the Mariupol Philharmonic, and the idea would be to put the prisoners in these cells during the hearings; something that is completely unacceptable, it is an act of humiliation,” he explained.
[“No creo que esta guerra sea justa”: el soldado ruso que se opone a la invasión de Putin]
Shamdasani recalled that international humanitarian law “prohibits the establishment of courts for the sole purpose of trying prisoners of war, which deprives the accused of their right to an ordinary and fair trial and which constitutes a war crime” in the event that these attempts are carried out in this way, according to Eph.
Anton Gerashchenkoan adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, condemned it via his official Twitter account on August 11: “The authorities occupying Mariupol will set up a ‘court’ on August 24 to try the Ukrainian army. They coincide it with Ukraine’s Independence Day and exactly six months after the invasion, as Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko announced. This video shows where Ukrainian prisoners of war will be imprisoned”concludes the tweet.
The occupation authorities in Mariupol will hold a “tribunal” of the Ukrainian military on August 24 – Ukraine’s Independence Day and exactly 6 months after the invasion, – Mariupol Mayor Vadim Boychenko.
This video shows where the Ukrainian prisoners of war will be held. pic.twitter.com/CB14yMV7RY
— Anton Gerashchenko (@Gerashchenko_en) August 11, 2022
Under international norms that establish the minimum rules of war, combatants with POW status are immune and cannot be prosecuted for engaging in acts of war or legal acts of war committed during the offensive, even if those acts are contrary to national law . .
The prisoners in question are those who defended Mariupol and in particular the Azovstal steel plant that fell last May, but exactly how many are unknown.
[La ONU, tras el ataque a la central de Zaporiyia: “El riesgo de desastre nuclear es real”]
The UN also has no information on who will make up the court, who will take over the defense (the fear is that it will be a fictitious defense) and what crimes they will be accused of.
“We are concerned that due process is not being followed”added the spokeswoman. Due process includes the right of the accused to choose his defense and to meet with him in confidence.
Shamdasani recalled that in the context of the war in Ukraine, there were trials in which prisoners of war were accused of being mercenaries and death sentences were handed down, “and we are concerned that this could happen again.”
Russian-appointed authorities in Mariupol Ukrainian prisoners of war are declared “terrorists”“Nazis” and “war criminals” acting against the basic principle of the presumption of innocence.
The UN has not received permission from the Russian government to enter the places where Ukrainian prisoners are held, neither on its territory nor in the territories that the Kremlin controls in Ukraine.
He has also received no response to his request to ensure respect for these prisoners during the trial, which is expected to take place in the coming days.