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NGOs file 'groundbreaking' complaint to UN human rights body over Russia's aggression

by Martin Fornusek July 10, 2024 2:24 PM 3 min read
A rescuer clears the rubble next to a heavily damaged building in central Vinnytsia on July 15, the day after Russian missile attack. (Getty Images)
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The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), Legal Action Worldwide, and Truth Hounds said on July 10 they had filed a "landmark complaint" to the U.N. Human Rights Committee over a Russian missile attack against Vinnytsia in 2022.

Representing families of 18 Ukrainian victims, the NGOs said that the case could set a precedent applicable to thousands more civilians killed during Russia's full-scale war.

Twenty-nine people were killed and hundreds injured in a Russian missile attack against Vinnytsia on July 14, 2022, a city in central Ukraine hundreds of kilometers from the front line.

The complaint argued that the attack violated the victims' right to life, which is covered by the U.N. Human Rights Committee's General Comment 36. The complaint's authors' conclusion was based on a field and open-source investigation carried out by CFJ and its partners, as well as an extensive legal analysis.

The General Comment 36 states that "the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes and protects the right to life of all human beings" and that all "States parties must respect the right to life."

Both Russia and Ukraine are ICCPR's signatories.

"This innovative case was developed over two years of investigation and legal analysis," said Anya Neistat, the legal director of CFJ's The Docket initiative, cited in a joint press release.

"If our arguments are accepted by the Human Rights Committee, the complaint will set a worldwide precedent, advance accountability for Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and offer a measure of justice to the families of all those killed in aggressive war."

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The complained called on the U.N. body to bring justice to the families of the victims of the Vinnytsia attack by judging Russia's actions as unlawful and in violation of their right to life, as well as ordering the payment of reparatiors to the families.

"A favorable decision from the Committee will mean that the victims of the attack are no longer just ‘collateral damage' of military action," said Roman Avramenko, the executive director of Truth Hounds.

"It will recognize that their rights have been violated and that they are entitled to redress. The U.N. Human Rights Committee should not miss this opportunity to take action based on its own principles."

"Nothing will bring our loved ones back," said 40-year-old Yaroslav, whose wife was killed and seven-year-old son severely injured by the strike.

"But we are determined to do everything we can to bring justice to them, and countless others, who are still being killed in Ukraine every day."

The attack on Vinnytsia was only one of many deadly strikes Russia carried out against Ukrainian cities. Earlier this week, a massive missile strike killed dozens across the country, including at least 33 residents of Kyiv.

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