UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic on Friday expressed concern over the reported use of cluster bombs in eastern Ukraine.
Addressing the UN Security Council, Simonovic said “recent reports of the use of cluster bombs in residential areas are alarming.”
He continued that “due to the wide impact radius, cluster munitions regularly have an immediate indiscriminate impact when used in areas with a civilian presence. Their use in such situations constitutes a violation of international law.”
Turning to armed groups linked to the Ukrainian government, Simonovic said that “there have also been continued allegations of human rights violations committed by some volunteer battalions under government control, which have been undertaking police functions in some of the towns and villages taken back by the [Ukrainian] government. We have continued to urge the government to exercise more control over all of its forces, including the volunteer battalions.”
The UN official also underscored a surge in activity of the ultra-nationalist Right Sector and other pro-Kiev groups and expressed hope that the upcoming October 26 parliamentary vote would be held without violations.
“As Ukrainians prepare for Sunday’s Parliamentary elections, we call on the authorities to ensure that they are conducted in a free, fair and open manner, and in an atmosphere of tolerance, peace and respect for human rights of all,” Simonovic concluded.
On Monday, Human Rights Watch released a report accusing Ukrainian forces of using cluster munitions in populated areas of Donetsk in October. The body also stated that the use of cluster bombs may amount to a war crime.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denied the findings saying they were not supported by enough facts.
According to UN data, the conflict between government forces and independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine killed over 3,700 and wounded more than 9,000 since it broke out in April.