War crimes probe of South Ossetia conflict urged again

[JURIST] Both Russia and Georgia must investigate possible violations of the laws of war [HRW press release] during and after the week-long South Ossetia conflict [BBC backgrounder] in August 2008, according to a report [text, PDF] released Friday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. The report, entitled "Up in Flames: Humanitarian Law Violations in the Conflict Over South Ossetia," alleges that Russian, Georgian, and South Ossetian militias violated the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 [materials] and its First Additional Protocol of 1977 [text], to which both Georgia and Russia are parties. The report further claims that Georgia violated the Second Additional Protocol of 1977 [text] to the Geneva Conventions, to which it is a party. The alleged violations involve attacks on civilians and civilian targets, use of cluster bombs [JURIST news archive], poor treatment of prisoners of war and detained civilians, and the displacement of Georgian civilians. The report says that these violations flow from:

the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by both Georgian and Russian forces, ... the South Ossetian forces' campaign of deliberate and systematic destruction of certain ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia [and from] Russia's failure to ensure public order and safety in areas of Georgia that were under its effective control.
This report follows closely a report [text, PDF; JURISTreport] released by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] in November 2008, which alleged possible human rights violations during the conflict, including attacks on civilians and civilian targets by both sides, the use of land mines and cluster bombs, the treatment of prisoners of war and civilian detainees, and the wide-spread displacement of civilians during and after the fighting. Georgia and Russia [JURIST reports] are currently exchanging allegations of war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official websites].

 

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