July 2, 2022

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US launches program to capture and analyze evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

US launches program to capture and analyze evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to collect and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities allegedly committed by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its crimes. procedures.

The State Department said in a statement that the so-called Conflict Monitor would include the documentation, verification and publication of open source evidence of Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Reports and analyzes will be available through the Conflict Monitor website.

US President Joe Biden criticized Russia over what he called “major war crimes” committed in Ukraine, and affirmed his determination to hold Moscow accountable for launching Europe’s largest ground war since World War II.

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The Kyiv government accused Russia of committing atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it had identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia denies targeting civilians and says, without evidence, that terrible atrocities were planned.

The US State Department said the new program, which is being built with an initial investment of $6 million, will analyze and preserve information, including satellite imagery and information shared on social media, so that it can be used in current and future accountability mechanisms.

“This new Conflict Monitor program is part of a suite of US government efforts at the national and international levels designed to ensure future accountability for Russia’s horrific actions,” the statement said.

The program is a collaboration with geographic information systems firm Esri, Yale University’s Humanitarian Research Laboratory, Smithsonian’s Cultural Rescue Initiative and PlanetScape Ai, the State Department said, adding that future funding will come from the European Democratic Resilience Initiative.

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State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States is working through a variety of mechanisms to collect and document evidence of war crimes and potential atrocities with relevant prosecutors, state entities and organizations.

But the new program, he told reporters, will present these findings to the public and authorities in regions with appropriate jurisdiction, including within Ukraine and possibly the United States, “so that prosecutors can build criminal cases on the basis of the published material.”

A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing Friday in the first trial of war crimes arising from the Russian invasion on February 24, after a captured Russian soldier was charged with the murder of a 62-year-old civilian. Read more

Russia has bombed cities to rubble and hundreds of civilian bodies have been found in towns where its forces have withdrawn since it launched what it calls a special operation to disarm Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies say it is a baseless excuse to launch an unprovoked war.

The International Criminal Court said on April 25 that it would participate in a joint team with Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian prosecutors investigating allegations of war crimes against Russian forces.

Ukraine has little experience in prosecuting such cases. Zira Kozlyeva, deputy head of the war crimes unit in the Prosecutor’s Office, said last month that her parliament last year adopted legislation to provide a legal framework for war crimes prosecutions in line with international practice.

She said the country had previously convicted only three individuals of crimes between 2014 and the invasion of February this year. Those were related to the conflict in the disputed Donbass region and Crimea, which Russia annexed.

(Reporting) Daphne Psalidakis Editing by Bill Bercrot

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