G7 says 'time to suspend' Russia from UN Human Rights Council

AFP , Thursday 7 Apr 2022

The Group of Seven industrialised nations on Thursday called for Russia to be suspended from the UN's human rights body over "heinous acts and atrocities" in Ukraine.

People walk amid the destruction on a street in the town of Bucha. AP

"We are convinced that now is the time to suspend Russian membership of the Human Rights Council," G7 foreign ministers from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Britain and the United States said in a statement.

The UN General Assembly votes later Thursday on suspending Russia from the UN Human Rights Council following allegations that Russian troops systematically executed civilians in Bucha, Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has also called for Russia to be expelled from the UN Security Council "so it cannot block decisions about its own aggression, its own war."

The G7 foreign ministers, who have been meeting on the sidelines of a NATO gathering in Brussels this week, said those responsible for "heinous acts and atrocities, including any attacks targeting civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure" would be held accountable and prosecuted.

"We welcome and support the ongoing work to investigate and gather evidence of these and other potential war crimes and crimes against humanity," they said.

The ministers also called for Russia to suspend its offensive in Ukraine immediately and warned against the use of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.

"We underline our unwavering support for Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and express our readiness to assist further, including with military equipment and financial means," they said.

More than 11 million people have been displaced since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Scenes of carnage that Ukrainian officials have accused retreating Russian troops of leaving behind in towns including Bucha have sparked outrage and led to a wave of fresh sanctions against Moscow.

Journalists over the weekend found corpses in civilian clothes, some with their hands bound, in the town of Bucha outside Ukraine's capital after Kyiv's forces retook it from Russia's army.

The Kremlin has denied Russian forces killed civilians, and alleged that the images of dead bodies in Bucha were "fakes."

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