Two NGOs Call for an ICC Investigation into Conflict-Related Sexual Crimes in Eastern Ukraine

25/09/2018
Press release
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Copyright. EUCCI

The Hague, Kyiv, Paris – Today, a delegation from FIDH and its Kyiv-based partner organisation EUCCI submitted a 134-page confidential Communication to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on sexual crimes committed in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Our organisations call upon the ICC Prosecutor to open a full investigation into the international crimes committed in Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in early 2014, including sexual war crimes and/or crimes against humanity.

“I am here to convey the message of victims of sexual crimes, who have been suffering from this conflict in Donbas. We hope that perpetrators will be held accountable and that justice will enable peace to be restored.”

Iryna Dovgan, resident of Donbas, former detainee of so-called Donetsk Peoples’ Republic (DPR)

FIDH and EUCCI have uncovered mounting evidence of heinous cases of sexual crimes committed against women and men, mostly in detention facilities operated by members of separatist paramilitaries and quasi-state institutions. Types of documented sexual crimes include rape (including attempts or threats of rape), other forms of sexual violence such as electrocution of genital areas, enforced prostitution, sexual slavery, humiliation and cruel treatment of a sexual nature, forced nudity and damage (including attempted or threatened) to sexual organs. These sexual crimes were committed with the intend to punish pro-Ukrainian combatants, to extract confessions or extort property, or for the purpose of combatants’ sexual gratification.

"Because cases of sexual violence are usually under-reported, due to prevailing unease about this issue, the stigma and trauma associated with it, the fear of reprisals, as well as - in this case - the limited access to Donbas, the cases presented in our Communication are likely to constitute the very tip of the iceberg of sexual crimes in Eastern Urkraine.”

Our organisations

Information reviewed by FIDH and EUCCI reveals the existence of at least 200 illegal detention facilities on separatist-held territory in Eastern Ukraine. For 42 of these facilities located on separatist-held territories, there is strong evidence of sexual violence and/or gender-based violence and discrimination.

There is a reasonable basis to believe that sexual war crimes and/or crimes against humanity took place in at least 7 separatist-controlled detention facilities, described in details in the FIDH-EUCCI Communication, and that those crimes are sufficiently grave to merit a full investigation by the ICC Prosecutor.

In April 2015, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor has opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine. It is examining information in relation to international crimes alleged to have been committed since 21 November 2013.

For more information, please read FIDH-EUCCI Q&A on “Accountability for Conflict-Related Sexual Crimes in Eastern Ukraine”.

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