Emmanuel Macron discusses Russian 'war crimes' in Ukraine
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This comes amid an ongoing investigation into dozens of alleged cases of war crimes. Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv yesterday, Pramila Patten – the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in war – said that cases already under investigation were just the “tip of the iceberg”. She added: “I have received reports, not yet verified… about sexual violence cases against men and boys in Ukraine.”
Describing rape as a form of “biological” and “psychological warfare”, which affects whole communities, Mr Pratten urged all survivors of sexual assault to come forward.
However, she acknowledged the challenges associated with doing so amid fear of reprisals or of Russian forces returning.
She said that sexual assault is a “cheap” weapon of war, “because it is cost free”.
She added that it is “very effective, because it does not only affect the victim, it affects whole families, the communities.
“It is biological warfare. It is psychological warfare.”
Speaking to reporters about the investigation, she warned: “Today’s documentation will be tomorrow’s prosecution”.
Earlier today, Ukraine’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said that the first stage of investigations into war crimes in Irpin had concluded.
Investigators spoke to 228 witnesses in the suburban town.
This came after she described Putin as “the main war criminal of the 21st century” yesterday, accusing his forces of using sexual assault as a tactic in its invasion.
Speaking about Russia’s alleged sexual crimes, she said: “I am sure actually that it was strategy.
“This is, of course, to scare civil society… to do everything to (force Ukraine to) capitulate.”
She said that the allegations include the rape of women, men, children and an elderly woman.
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Some of the victims, Ms Venediktova said, remain in Ukraine and are afraid of speaking out for fear of Russian forces.
Ms Patten said the world must have “zero tolerance” for such crimes.
She said: “All the warning signals are flashing red in Ukraine, with allegations of brutal sexual violence emerging.
“I could not stay back in my office in New York, in the face of such harrowing reports of sexual violence.
“I’m here because we must spare no effort to ensure zero tolerance and consistent consequences for these crimes.”
The UN official added: “It’s hard for women and girls to report [rape] because of stigma amongst other reasons, but it’s often even harder for men and boys to report.
“We have to create that safe space for all victims to report cases of sexual violence.”
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