Monday, 18 August 2008

Human Rights Watch: 'Mounting evidence of crime against civilians by Georgian and Russian military'

(Tbilisi, August 18, 2008) – Mounting evidence that Russian and Georgian military used armed force unlawfully during the South Ossetian conflict highlights the need for international fact-finding missions in Georgia, Human Rights Watch said today. Ongoing militia attacks and a growing humanitarian crisis also indicate the urgent need for the deployment of a mission to enhance civilian protection.

At the start of the military conflict on August 7, 2008, Georgian military used indiscriminate and disproportionate force resulting in civilian deaths in South Ossetia. The Russian military has since used indiscriminate force in attacks in South Ossetia and in the Gori district, and has apparently targeted convoys of civilians attempting to flee the conflict zones. Ongoing looting, arson attacks, and abductions by militia are terrorizing the civilian population, forcing them to flee their homes and preventing displaced people from returning home.

“This conflict has been a disaster for civilians,” said Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia deputy director at Human Rights Watch. “An international security mission should be deployed to help protect civilians and create a safe environment for the displaced to return home. And international organizations should also send fact-finding missions to establish the facts, report on human rights, and urge the authorities to account for any crimes.” More...

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