As Volodymyr Zelensky says, can we talk about the “genocide” perpetrated by the Russian military in Ukraine?

“These are war crimes that will be recognized by the world as genocide.”. Two days after the bodies of numerous civilians were found on the streets of Bautista, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky visited the suburbs of Kiev on Monday, April 4, after condemning the actions of Russian soldiers there and recapturing them. City by Ukrainian troops. The head of state used the word serious and historic “Genocide”.

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Kyiv already used the word to refer to the siege of Mariupol. After the discovery of horrific images of Boutcha and other martyr cities, the charge took on another purpose. Spain and Poland in particular have seized it. But others, such as US President Joe Biden, avoided it. “Genocide”Optional “War crimes “. Francinefo answers the questions raised in this discussion.

A crime with a very precise definition …

The crime of genocide was created in 1948 A UN, And its definition has not changed since. It refers to certain acts (mainly murders) “Aim to completely or partially destroy a national, ethnic, ethnic or religious group”.

So this narrow definition excludes many scenarios. “A genocide cannot target a political or cultural group”, Explains Jan Jurovix, a public law lecturer at the University of Paris-Chockley, who has worked with the Rwanda International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTR) and the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Although some legal experts believe that a word is needed to denote the destruction of a culture, it does not fall within the generally accepted range today.

Also, it is necessary to prove “Policy aimed at destroying the group because it exists”. For example, against assassinations aimed at seizing territory, the judge explains: “In this case, the motive is not to hate the other person.”. On the other hand, there is no minimum number of victims as far as it can be proved that the goal is to eradicate the target population.

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Recognition of genocide can be counted on the fingers of one hand, recalling Jan Zurovic: the genocide of Armenians from 1915, the genocide of Jews in September 1941, and the genocide of the Tutsis in April 1994. Herros, People of Namibia, by Germany 1904: If “We have no elements in the legal view” More than a century later, Germany recognized it in 2015.

… but this is not the case with the Ukrainian context

Many elements of a genocide are not as familiar to us as the situation in Ukraine from the point of view of Yan Juroviks. Those involved in genocide want to destroy the group they are targeting, “Attack on everyone they meet”. This does not seem to have happened in Bouchas, where it is clear that many of the victims were arbitrarily executed civilians. Other citizens saved their lives and testify today. The number of victims is in the hundreds, but the Russian military has not destroyed the entire population of the city, which has a population of 37,000.

Russian forces besieged some cities but did not “Prevented all Ukrainians from leaving”, Another feature that helps to characterize the option that would otherwise leave no one. There is nothing to suggest that it exists “Murder Centers”. The Russian military has not specifically targeted women and children, as they were the primary targets during the genocide because that was the purpose. “Definitely destroy the group”Encrypts Yann Jurovics.

In the most shared message On Twitter (In English)On Monday, Eugene Finkel, another genocide expert, historian and political scientist at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, said he was convinced that there was a genocide, especially after the publication of an article by the Russian official Rhea. Novosti. Published on Sunday and summarized in English A Belarusian journalistThis text preserves a broader perspective describing Russia “Denunciation” Ukraine, a goal repeatedly stated by Vladimir Putin: All armed Ukrainians must be expelled, and the majority of the Ukrainian population supports the Nazis, especially the state press organ writes. “One of the most outspoken statements I have ever seen aimed at destroying a national group.”Eugene Fingal believes he himself is Israeli, but was born in Ukraine.

But here again, Judge Ian Juroviks disagrees with this analysis: Russian discourse has no purpose “A Biological Group”But supporters of a political idea (real or not). “The simple test to determine if this is a genocide is to ask the victim himself if he has a will. For example, a Tutsi can no longer choose not to be a Tutsi.”, He explains. The rhetoric of Russian power, on the other hand, leaves the Ukrainians with the choice to relinquish their independence and the defense of their national identity. “In practice, this is a very limited choice”, The lawyer agrees. But he distinguishes the Russian authoritarian discourse from the genocidal discourse. “It connects political thought with a biological criterion”.

Other qualifications are possible

Joe Biden called for a war crimes trial on Monday, saying it was easy to establish a merit. Attacks on civilians, in particular, are war crimes, and have been abundant and documented in both Boutcha and Mariupol or Karkiv since the beginning of the Russian invasion in late February.

Crime against humanity is another potential merit. According to Yan Jurovix, this indicates, “Policy that deprives individuals of fundamental rights because they belong to one identity”.

“If Russian power attacks civilians in the wake of the armed conflict, it is a war crime. If the people are targeted because they are Ukrainians, it is a crime against humanity.”

Jan Jurovix is ​​a public law lecturer and former judge of the International Criminal Court


However, it is necessary to establish that the actions of the Russian military are the result of a unified policy, this expert explains. “It’s difficult without written evidence, and confessions are almost non-existent.”, He warns. But repeating some of the methods makes it possible to install: “If we realize that the Russian military is leaving a mass grave in all the cities it occupies, it can attest to a policy determined at the highest level.” The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already begun an investigation into all the acts committed in Ukraine in early March, although it is unlikely that Vladimir Putin will be tried one day.

“Crime against humanity is neither less nor more serious than genocide”, Recalled Yann Jurovics. To legal experts, these two crimes describe different situations. “But the label ‘genocide’ is sometimes used because there is a hierarchical origin” Horror, this will be the final stage. At a time when the international community is a question that is provoking a reaction, the misuse or misuse of the word is understandable. But the lawyer recalled “For example, there was no military intervention in Rwanda to stop a genocide.”.

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