Filtration camps are reportedly being used by Russian forces in occupied territories of Ukraine, as part of its ongoing invasion.
According to the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Lyudmyla Denisova, people considered to be “especially dangerous” (in ideological terms) or “unreliable” are forced to go through it every three days.
Analyzing the legal status of the so-called filtration camps organized by the occupying Russian authorities in Ukraine, where they forcibly detain Ukrainian citizens, torture them, take away their documents, separate family members and move Ukrainians to Russia, we can conclude that the Russian Federation is committing a number of war crimes under a large number of articles contained in the 1949 Geneva Convention.
The establishment and existence of these filtration camps is not provided for in any international document and is completely contrary to the norms and principles of international law.
There are no legal grounds for Russian’s organization of so-called filtration camps. Moreover, the scale of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated by Russians in these camps represents war crimes under International Humanitarian Law.
This includes premeditated murder, torture, inhuman treatment, intentional infliction of severe suffering, grievous bodily harm and damage to health, rape, enslavement, deportation and forcible transfer of the population of Ukraine, cruel deprivation of physical liberty, persecution of Ukrainians on national, ethnic and cultural grounds, extermination of Ukrainians and more.
It is my opinion that Ukraine should take the following steps now:
- Pursuant to the Geneva Convention paragraph 2 (c), subparagraph (i) of Article 90 of Protocol I, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission shall have jurisdiction to investigate any facts which are alleged to constitute a serious violation under the Conventions and this Protocol or other serious violations of the Conventions and this Protocol.
Given that the facts which we know constitute serious violations, as defined by the Conventions and this Protocol, they must be submitted with evidence to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission for investigation.
- Identify the reasons why neither the President of Ukraine nor the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine have signed in accordance with the procedure of the Law of Ukraine dated December 27, 2019 № 2689 “Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Concerning the Implementation of Norms of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law”, which was sent to the President of Ukraine for signing on June 7, 2021, and take civil society measures on correction of this situation.
This Law aims to ensure the full implementation of the norms of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law on the prosecution of international crimes (genocide, aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes), as well as to ensure compliance with international obligations to prevent legal and actual impunity for the committing of such crimes.
- Recommend that the Ukrainian Parliament ratifies the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
- Take into account the proposal of the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, Yevhen Tsymbalyuk, to establish a special tribunal in the case of the crime of aggression against Ukraine so as to bring the Russian leadership to justice.
- Set up an Information Bureau in accordance with Article 136 of the Convention.
- Work more actively to find ways to appoint a Protecting Power.
- Take measures to bring the guilty officials of the Russian Federation to justice for the crimes of aggression.
- In accordance with Article 82 of Protocol I, the High Contracting Parties at all times, and the Parties to the conflict in time of armed conflict, shall ensure that legal advisers are available, when necessary, to advise military commanders at the appropriate level on the application of the Conventions and this Protocol and on the appropriate instruction to be given to the armed forces on this subject. In particular, they should bring to the attention of the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine the Instruction on the Procedure for Implementation of International Humanitarian Law in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, approved by the Order of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine dated March 23, 2017 № 164 and registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on June 9 2017 for № 704 / 30572.
During the war, full-time military lawyers move into the category of legal advisers.
However, there may not be enough full-time lawyers available during the war.
Svitlana Sydorenko is a military lawyer, former officer of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and senior lieutenant of reserve justice.
Russian Filtration Camps Are a War Crime (1) can be read here.
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