Security Council Briefing on forcible transfer of Ukrainians to Russia and filtration systems.
7 September 2022
Statement of Italy delivered by the Permanent Representative, Amb. Maurizio Massari
Thank you Mr. President, and let me also thank the briefers – USG Di Carlo, ASG Brands Kheris and Madame Drik – for the alarming but very effective description of one of the darkest sides of this war. As we reiterated multiple times, Russian aggression on Ukraine is a blatant violation of international law.
However, the filtration system of Ukrainian civilians we have heard about today is a violation of the jus in bello as profound as we have not witnessed in Europe since World War 2.
It was indeed to avoid those horrors, that the International Community gathered in Geneva in 1949, adopting the four Conventions we all know: it is thus crucial to reiterate once again the prohibition of forcible transfers of civilians from the occupied territory to the occupying power’s territory, regardless of the motive.
In addition to this already grave breach of international humanitarian law, which could be prosecuted as a war crime and a crime against humanity by the International Criminal Court, credible sources have also raised awareness of potential cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, illegal biometric data collection, torture, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. These are all disrespects of the most basic human rights, despite all the disinformation attempts.
These crimes are not only a violation of the international legal framework; they are also an offense to the shared values and principles upon which the United Nations are built on.
The seriousness of this situation requires two swift and crucial actions in order to end the unacceptable and inhumane conditions in which thousands of innocent Ukrainians citizens find themselves, as we speak:
Firstly, we call on Russia to grant unfettered access for both UN bodies and international NGOs, such as the ICRC, to freely and safely visit the temporary placement centers with direct and complete access to these civilians, in line with the Geneva conventions.
Secondly, we call on Russia to ensure the immediate return of all the forcibly transferred Ukrainian citizens, particularly women and children, to their territories of origin and their full freedom of movement towards third Countries. In this sense, Italy believes that the effective evacuation mechanism established in Mariupol, thanks to the coordination efforts of the UN and ICRC, is a clear example of how International Humanitarian Law cannot be left only to the voluntary compliance of armed and non-armed groups and it should be replicated to end this heinous filtration system.
Let me conclude by pointing out that we must also be sure that these crimes will not happen again.
In this perspective, Italy highlights the urge to guarantee accountability for the perpetrators of such severe breaches of International Humanitarian Law, reaffirms its full support for the work of independent international and domestic fora investigating to avoid any form of impunity, and support the further strengthening of the existing mechanisms of compliance, particularly the International Criminal Court.
I thank you.