As the conflict in Ukraine entered its 50th day, NGO Human Rights at Sea accused Russia of committing war crimes that should de prosecuted against international seafarers and merchant vessels.
“War crimes are not only the indiscriminate attack against civilians but the indiscriminate attacks against civilian objects and civilian infrastructure,” HRAS charged, adding: “International law regulating the conduct of hostilities explicitly prohibits attacks against merchant vessels flying the flag of neutral to the war states. The merchant ships at anchorage in those besieged ports are civilian objects by nature, location, purpose and use, and they make no contribution to military action. Any attack against them, like shelling, is thus strictly prohibited.”
HRAS also lambasted the Russia’s decision to detain merchant ships in recent weeks, calling on the international community and competent institutions to help the Ukraine prosecutor, the International Criminal Court prosecutor and any other prosecutor and court mandated to hold war criminals to account in the collection of evidence.
“In doing so, war crimes committed against seafarers shall not be forgotten as these are civilian victims, too, with a right to obtain justice,” HRAS stated.
Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office has affirmed that almost 6,500 alleged war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine are under investigation.
Last week, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) called for urgent action to protect seafarers and vessels stranded in Ukrainian ports and nearby waters. (Photo from Marine Transport Workers Trade Union of Ukraine)