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Amnesty accuses both sides in Ukraine conflict of war crimes

Kirill Kudryavstev, AFP | Amnesty’s Secretary General, Salil Shetty, speaks during a press conference in Moscow on September 10

Amnesty International on Wednesday said it had documented evidence that both Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists have committed war crimes in eastern Ukraine, rejecting Moscow's claims that it is not a party to the conflict.

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The human rights group’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, said “all sides in this conflict have shown disregard for civilian lives and are blatantly violating their international obligations”, adding that Amnesty's researchers on the ground in eastern Ukraine “have documented incidents of indiscriminate shelling, abductions, torture, and killings”.

Amnesty also rejected Russia’s repeated denials of involvement.

“Our evidence shows that Russia is fuelling the conflict, both through direct interference and by supporting the separatists in the East. Russia must stop the steady flow of weapons and other support to an insurgent force heavily implicated in gross human rights violations,” the UK-based organisation said.

To confirm the charge, Amnesty published a number of satellite images on its website showing alleged artillery positions taken up on the Ukrainian side of the border between August 13 and 19.

“These satellite images, coupled with reports of Russian troops captured inside Ukraine and eyewitness accounts of Russian troops and military vehicles rolling across the border, leave no doubt that this is now an international armed conflict,” Shetty said in a statement.

‘Indiscriminate attacks’

Amnesty said it had numerous testimonies of war crimes committed by separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, including reports that pro-Russian fighters were guilty of having “abducted, tortured, and killed their neighbours”.

The group also accused Ukrainian forces of committing human rights abuses, citing eyewitness accounts of heavy shelling targeting civilian neighbourhoods.

“The attacks were indiscriminate and may amount to war crimes,” the group said, adding that it had also received “credible reports of abductions and beatings carried out by volunteer battalions operating alongside regular Ukrainian armed forces”.

Nearly 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far.

Amnesty called on Ukrainian authorities to probe the findings “and bring to justice individuals responsible for war crimes”, warning that unless an independent investigation is launched “there’s a real risk Ukrainians will harbour the scars of this war for generations.”

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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