War is human lives lost and mutilated forever. And also – a peculiar test of the expediency of the existence of international organizations, which were created, among other things, to ensure peace, help victims and observe the fundamental rights and freedoms of a person who found himself in the hell of war, guaranteed by international conventions.
At the end of July, the Russian occupiers shelled the territory of the former penal colony in the village of Olenivka (temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk region), in which prisoners were kept Ukrainian defenders from “Azovstal”. The exact number of victims is currently unknown, because until now the Russians have not allowed either representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross or representatives of the United Nations to the scene of the tragedy.
In particular, and because of this situation, the existence of the two international organizations mentioned above in the form in which they are currently functioning has really become a reason for numerous discussions.
Let me remind you that the withdrawal of our defenders from the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant began on May 16. The operation to rescue Ukrainian soldiers took place, including through the mediation of the International Committee of the Red Cross, which registered thousands of Ukrainian prisoners of war – they say that in this way they will feel more protected (looking ahead, such registration, unfortunately, has the same meaning today as any agreement with Russia). In the future, ICRC representatives visited once Ukrainian prisoners of war in Olenivka at the end of May to deliver water. At this point, the aid was actually completed and no one saw more representatives of the committee in Olenivka.
After the Russians insidiously shelled the territory of the correctional colony in the village of Olenivka, as a result of which many Ukrainian prisoners of war died, the ICRC issued a statement that caused quite a stir. In short, according to it, the ICRC, as a neutral mediator, facilitated the safe exit of combatants from the Azovstal plant and… did not guarantee the safety of prisoners of war who fell into the hands of the enemy. Since, as stated in the statement, it’s not in his power.
In the context of this statement, it is appropriate to note that according to point d) of part 1 of Article 4 of the Statute, the ICRC, as a neutral intermediary whose humanitarian activities are mainly carried out during international and other armed conflicts, as well as during internal disturbances, must always try to ensure protection and assistance to victims of such events – both military personnel and civilians. If you literally analyze the content of this article, you can see that it contains a somewhat declarative and at the same time recommendation nature. And that’s the duty take necessary actions for protection and assistance The ICRC does not have one.
Moreover, the activities of the ICRC are closely related to a number of Geneva Conventions, and in the context of the events in Olenivka – to the Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. According to paragraph 1 of Article 12 of the Convention, regardless of the responsibility that individuals may bear, the detaining power is responsible for the treatment of prisoners of war. In addition, Article 23 of the Convention clearly establishes the requirement that prisoners of war are inadmissible in areas where they may be at risk of fire from the combat zone. Thus, given that our defenders were held captive by Russia, the responsibility for their protection rests with Russia. This is what international human rights defenders use to explain their inaction.
At the same time, the entire civilized world knows that Russia is averse to any international laws and regulations, and even more so to human rights. And therefore hope for the Kremlin’s organization and provision of protection for captured Ukrainian soldiers in the correctional colony in the village of Olenivka, at least, madness.
…given that our defenders were held captive by Russia, the responsibility for their protection rests with Russia
The bitter truth is that no one could provide any guarantees. And if such a word sounded in the statement of some official person, then it is solely the responsibility of that person, and the lost lives of captured soldiers should be on his conscience.
However, if the ICRC’s statement of August 4 has a certain basis, the effectiveness of its activities (aid) in the context of the situation with the captured defenders from “Azovstal” raises a completely natural question of the expediency of the existence of such an organization.
The same registration of prisoners of war, which I mentioned above, and which was actively promoted by the ICRC during the withdrawal of our defenders from the territory of the Azovstal plant, is currently of no practical importance. After all, in connection with Russia’s refusal to enter the territory of the former penal colony in the village of Olenivka representatives of the Committee and the UN, it is impossible to even report the exact number and personal data of the dead.
The bitter truth is that no one could provide any guarantees
In fact, the ICRC generally has an ambiguous reputation and it is not the first time that it has been in the center of scandalous events. But is it really possible to dissolve the ICRC, as called for by the participants of the action in support of the captured defenders of Azovstal, which took place on August 3 in Ivano-Frankivsk? In general, yes. But if we analyze the provisions of Article 15 of the Statute, it is possible to come to the conclusion that the dissolution of the Committee may take place on the condition that inappropriate use of funds is detected during financial control. Simply put, the basis for this can be corruption or embezzlement. Since the main funds of the committee are state contributions, income from private individuals and organizations, it is probably to them that dissatisfaction with the work of the ICRC should be conveyed. At least, it gives hope that the level of such incomes will decrease significantly.
Dmytro Vorontsov, lawyer ADERHABER