Mariupol defenders trial will amount to war crime – UN

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The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights sharply condemned the intention of russia to try the defenders of Mariupol in the city’s philharmonic hall.

“While there are few details available, photos and video footage published in the media and on social media appear to show metal cages being built in Mariupol’s philharmonic hall, apparently to restrain prisoners of war during proceedings,” reads the press release by Ravina Shamdasani, Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

As noted, if prisoners of war are charged with crimes, they are entitled to due process and fair trial guarantees. No sentence or punishment may be passed on them unless it is delivered by an impartial and regularly constituted court.

Shamdasani underscored that international humanitarian law prohibits the establishment of courts solely to judge prisoners of war and that wilfully depriving a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial amounts to a war crime.

“We are furthermore concerned that prisoners of war have generally been held without access to independent monitors, exposing them to the risk of being tortured to extract a confession.  There have also been worrying public statements by russian officials and members of affiliated armed groups labelling  Ukrainian prisoners of war as ‘war criminals’, ‘Nazis’, and ‘terrorists’, thereby undermining the presumption of innocence,” she notes.

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