As the Russian troops withdraw from the towns surrounding the Ukraininan capital Kyiv, the world is, for the first time, witnessing the real scale of atrocities committed on civilians since the start of the war.
Bodies of over 400 civilians have been seen lying on the streets or buried in mass graves in Bucha and other towns in the region. Laws of war violations against civilians, including rapes, killings and other acts of violence by Russian armed forces as well as looting of civilian property, deserve the strongest possible condemnation.
As days go by, more evidence of war crimes is going to be uncovered. ARTICLE 19 joins the international community in calling for all the acts to be independently and thoroughly investigated and for the perpetrators to be held accountable.
In light of these war crimes committed on Ukrainian civilians, the protection of journalists becomes even more important. Quinn McKew, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19 said:
“It is journalists who are often the first ones to uncover and document these crimes and their reporting provides evidence that is crucial for accountability and justice. Their safety is essential to keep the flow of reliable information, counter disinformation and better understand the crimes committed against Ukrainian people.
“Under international humanitarian law, journalists must be protected and enjoy the same rights as civilians, even when accompanying military forces for the purpose of reporting. Yet, in recent days we’ve seen stories of Ukrainian journalists being kidnapped, imprisoned, beaten and tortured by the Russian forces. Maksim Levin, a young photographer was found dead in a town north of Kiyv. A full investigation needs to be carried out into the circumstances surrounding his death, as well as those of others who died covering the war. Those responsible need to be brought to justice.
“Deliberate attacks on civilians, including journalists, constitute a war crime and must be investigated and trialed accordingly. Sanctions on Russia must increase to send the immediate message that these acts have real consequences.”