Memorial Human Rights Centre: “The order not to take prisoners is criminal”

posted 27 Jan 2015, 13:09 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 27 Jan 2015, 13:18 ]
25 January 2015

Source: (info
Statement by Memorial Human Rights Centre, Moscow

'On 23 January [2015], the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, said that he will issue an order to the armed groups of the DPR not to take any more prisoners. In doing so, he has committed a war crime.

Such an order is criminal, regardless of whether the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine is regarded as an international conflict or a civil war.

International humanitarian law expressly prohibits the issue of such orders.

Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions sets out the requirements for the parties involved in an armed conflict that is not of an international character:

Persons [...] who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely [...]. To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons: violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture [...].”

Article 40 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to international armed conflicts states that: “It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors, to threaten an adversary therewith or to conduct hostilities on this basis.

Article 41 of this Protocol prohibits an attack on any person who “a) is in the power of an adverse Party; b) clearly expresses an intention to surrender; c) has been rendered unconscious or is otherwise incapacitated by wounds or sickness, and therefore is incapable of defending himself, provided that in any of these cases he abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape.

Executing the criminal order issued by Aleksandr Zakharchenko should undoubtedly be regarded as a war crime.

The responsibility for these crimes will lie with Russia, whose senior officials are openly supporting the separatists.

We demand that the Russian government takes immediate steps to bring the separatists’ leaders in eastern Ukraine to reason and induce them to revoke the criminal order.' 

Memorial Human Rights Centre, Москва

Meanwhile, as reported by the BBC, “Russia has blocked a statement by the UN Security Council condemning the rocket attacks on Mariupol. The statement called for the ceasefire agreement reached in September to be observed, as well as an investigation into the rocket attack that killed 30 people to be carried out.”

According to the OCSE, the rockets were launched from positions occupied by armed separatists in the Donetsk region.

The report by the OSCE states that: “According to the impact analysis, the Grad rockets originated from a north-easterly direction, in the area of Oktyabr (19 km north-east of Olimpiiskaya Street), and the Uragan rockets from an easterly direction, in the area of Zaichenko (15 km east of Olimpiiskaya Street), both controlled by the Donetsk People’s Republic.

We demand that the leadership of our country immediately take steps to bring the separatists’ leaders in the east of Ukraine to reason, and impel them to abolish the criminal order.

Translated by Nicky Brown