Ukraine/Russia: “Death sentences” against three foreign members of Ukrainian forces by separatists’ “courts” a blatant violation of international law


Responding to the news that a separatist “court” in Russia-occupied Donetsk ordered the death of two captured two British nationals and a captured Moroccan national, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“This is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law on so many counts.

“The three were members of the Ukrainian regular forces and under the Geneva Conventions, as prisoners of war, they are protected from prosecution for taking part in hostilities. The only exception is prosecution for alleged war crimes, in which case there must be sufficient admissible evidence, and fair trial standards must be ensured. Not only this is not the case in this scenario – they were not tried by an independent, impartial regularly constituted court but by Russian proxies. The so-called ‘charges’ against them would not constitute war crimes. And most outrageously of all, the taking of their lives as result of the grossly unfair proceedings would constitute arbitrary deprivation of life.

“In fact, wilfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the right to a fair and regular trial constitutes a war crime. Russia, as the occupying power, bears responsibility for the treatment of all prisoners of war and others deprived of their liberty. They must ensure this so-called ‘sentence’ is immediately quashed, and that these mean are treated in full compliance with international humanitarian law.”

Background

The “death sentence” against British nationals Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin and Moroccan national Saadun Brahim, was pronounced on 9 June by the de-facto Supreme Court of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, a self-proclaimed separatist entity under Russian occupation of eastern Ukraine.

They were “convicted” of being foreign mercenaries and “actions aimed at violent seizure of power and overthrow of the constitutional order of the DNR”. The three were taking part in the fighting with Russia as members of the regular Ukrainian forces, and were taken captive in May by Russian forces in Mariupol in south-eastern Ukraine.

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