By Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA -The United Nations named three human rights experts on Wednesday to investigate possible war crimes in Ukraine where Russia has been accused of indiscriminate bombardment of civilians.
The independent panel, led by Erik Mose of Norway, will probe all accusations of rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law “in the context of the aggression against Ukraine by the Russian Federation,” a statement said.
Ukraine and its Western backers have accused Russia’s armed forces of killing and inflicting suffering on residents by shelling and besieging cities, most notably the southern port of Mariupol. Moscow denies targeting civilians.
On the other side, video has been circulating on social media purporting to show Ukrainian forces mistreating captured Russian soldiers. Kyiv has said the images look fake but that it will punish perpetrators if found to be true.
The U.N. Human Rights Council has created the commission of inquiry for one year at the request of Ukraine and allies including the European Union, Britain and the United States.
Russia, which calls its Feb. 24 invasion a “special operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine, opposed the probe.
The United Nations also has fact-finding inquiries for war crimes in Syria, Myanmar and other conflicts. Their reports have been used to build cases for potential prosecutions.
Under the resolution on Ukraine adopted by the 47-member Geneva forum, the panel will interview witnesses and collect forensic material for any future legal proceedings.
It is to report initial findings in September.
Mose is a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights and former president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda who also served as a judge on Norway’s Supreme Court.
Other panel members are Jasminka Dzumhur, the human rights ombudsperson of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Pablo de Greiff, a Colombian who was the first U.N. justice investigator.