Venediktova informs ICC about 'POW marches' in occupied areas of eastern Ukraine.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova signed two new communications to be filed at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The communications concern the "marches of prisoners of war" in occupied areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions and the destruction of bridges by the occupiers in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"We have held the first meeting of the International Council of Experts on Crimes Committed amid Armed Conflict with the participation of its foreign members. This advisory body will make us more effective in investigating and prosecuting for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied Crimea and Donbas," Venediktova posted on Facebook, Ukrinform reports.

She called it symbolic that the activity of the council "began with the signing of two new communications to be filed at the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. One of them was prepared by prosecutors of the War Department at the Prosecutor General's Office, the other by the Donetsk and Luhansk regional prosecutor's offices together with the Global Rights Compliance LLP and the Luhansk regional human rights center Alternative."

According to Venediktova, the communication, prepared by the Prosecutor General's Office, concerns the facts of public humiliation of Ukrainian prisoners of war detained by representatives of illegal armed formations of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic".

We drew the attention of the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC to three most flagrant incidents: the "POW parade" on August 24, 2014, which involved 53 detained service members; the capture of 101 members of the Donbas special battalion of the National Guard of Ukraine; the "POW parade / march" on January 22, 2015, involving 20 detained service members. Our soldiers were marched through the occupied Donetsk and filmed by Russian media. They were subjected to physical violence in order to publicly punish them and to show the media their helpless state. Prisoners of war were constantly threatened with murder, and the presence of the armed members of illegal armed formations further convinced them that the threats would be implemented."

Prosecutors believe that "these facts must be preliminarily classified as a war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, namely, committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

Another communication concerns the attacks on bridges and the destruction of bridges in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts affected by the armed hostilities. These are data on 43 incidents in the period from May 2014 to January 2019. These facts can be qualified by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC as war crimes under Article 8 of the Rome Statute, namely: intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects during an international armed conflict or destructing enemy property during an international armed conflict.

According to Venediktova, both communications underscore that the International Criminal Court has the appropriate jurisdiction to open an investigation into the alleged war crimes.

In total, 24 communications have already been filed to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC.

Photo credit: Prosecutor General's Office

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