Canada to investigate sexual violence against women in Ukraine as war crimes

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has said Canada will help investigate sexual violence by Russian troops against women and girls in Ukraine.

OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has said Canada will help investigate sexual violence by Russian troops against women and girls in Ukraine.

Speaking in Ottawa after talks with Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde, Joly said RCMP officers helping to investigate war crimes in Ukraine will help gather evidence of rape and sexual violence by the Russian army.

Joly said Canada provided 10 RCMP officers to help collect evidence of possible war crimes in Ukraine that could be used in a case before the International Criminal Court.

She said she believed there was “strong evidence of genocide” against the Ukrainian people by Russia.

Canadian MPs have already symbolically voted to label Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian civilians as genocide.

The two foreign ministers expressed concern that sexual violence against women was being used by Russia as a weapon of war in Ukraine, saying such crimes should be brought to light.

They said specialist support was needed for Ukrainian women and girls fleeing to neighboring countries who may have been raped and abused by invading troops.

Linde said Sweden was at the forefront of investigating war crimes against civilians, including sexual violence against women.

It has already sent “sex and gender-based crime investigation experts” to assist the International Criminal Court in its war crimes investigation. They interview refugees, “mainly women, girls and children”, as witnesses.

Speaking after talks with his Swedish counterpart, Joly reiterated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s support for Sweden’s NATO membership.

Linde said Sweden wanted “security guarantees” from other NATO countries if it applied to join the military alliance, in case there was retaliation from Russia for having chose to join. Russia already engages in disinformation campaigns, including falsely labeling Swedish figures as Nazis, she said.

Earlier this week, Ukraine’s designated ambassador to Canada said Russia must be held accountable for sex crimes committed by its troops, including against children.

Yulia Kovaliv told MPs on a House of Commons committee that Russia was using sexual violence as a weapon of war. She said Ukraine was gathering “horrible documented evidence” of war crimes, including sex crimes committed by Russian soldiers.

“The horror is that children are victims of these sexual crimes, which are committed (under) the eyes of their parents,” Kovaliv said. “Sex crimes are part of the Russian weapon (against) Ukraine.”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on May 5, 2022.

Marie Woolf, The Canadian Press

Comments are closed.