HRW 2023 report: Russia’s abuses in Ukraine part of pattern repeated ‘numerous times’


According to Human Rights Watch, Russia’s war crimes and human rights violations during the Ukraine war constitute “a cascade of violations of international humanitarian law.”

In its annual report examining human rights standards in nearly 100 countries, the rights group said evidence of war crimes in the Kyiv suburb of Buta was part of a pattern “that has been repeated countless times”.

HRW’s World Report 2023 also highlighted the bombing of a theater in Mariupol despite signs warning children had taken refuge there, as well as attacks on other non-military targets.

A woman is injured in a Russian airstrike on the Ukrainian town of Churchiv in February 2022.

“Causing civilian suffering, such as repeated attacks on the energy infrastructure that Ukrainians depend on for electricity, water, and heat, appears to be a central part of the Kremlin’s strategy,” the report reads.

While the authors praise European countries for their response to taking in Ukrainian refugees, they also say, “Governments should reflect on how much earlier the international community had come together to hold Putin accountable — in 2014, when war broke out in eastern Ukraine; in 2015.” , for rights violations in Syria; or the escalating human rights crackdown in Russia over the past decade.”

A woman carries water after armed clashes in the Tigray region destroyed infrastructure.

Elsewhere, Human Rights Watch highlighted armed conflict in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, which it noted has not received as much attention as Ukraine.

“Governments and the United Nations have condemned summary killings, widespread sexual violence and looting, but little else has been done” as an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Tigray population in Citigray State has resulted in many deaths, sexual violence, Mass detention and forced displacement of thousands,” the report said.

Protests in Istanbul, Turkey over China's treatment of Uyghurs.

The report also called for more scrutiny of China after Xi Jinping was re-elected as Communist Party leader and president for a third time in October.

“Surrounded by loyal supporters, Xi Jinping has redoubled his efforts to build a safe state, deepening human rights abuses across the country,” the report said.

As Western governments grow increasingly uncomfortable with China’s policies, they seek to deepen their alliance with India. But the HRW report says Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party is employing some of the same repressive practices as China.

“World leaders’ seemingly careless trade-offs on human rights are perceived as a cost of doing business, while ignoring the long-term impact of their compromises,” the report said. “Deepen ties with the Modi government while avoiding its A troubling rights record wastes precious leverage to protect the precious but increasingly endangered civic space on which Indian democracy depends.”

Other cases highlighted by Human Rights Watch include Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government “continues to attack the rule of law and democratic institutions,” declaring the war in Ukraine at risk, allowing it to rule by decree and avoid parliamentary scrutiny.

In addition, Human Rights Watch noted that in 2022 the UK government introduced new laws that “violate human rights and propose to substantially weaken human rights protections in domestic law.”

The group also warned against the temptation of authoritarian rule around the world.

“Dictators benefit from their projected illusion that they are integral to maintaining stability, which in turn appears to justify the repression and widespread human rights abuses they pursue to achieve this goal,” the report said. .”

Efforts to consolidate such control have “eroded” the pillars of a society based on the rule of law, the report added.

“The result is often massive corruption, economic collapse and hopelessly partisan justice,” it said. “Vital civic spaces are being dismantled, and activists and independent journalists are being jailed, hiding or fearing reprisals.”

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