War crimes cases can be brought before the International Criminal Court in the Hague, but successful prosecution would be challenging, experts say.
“It would likely be difficult to prove in court,’’ said David Scheffer, an international law expert. “The circumstances are unknown. Who executed them. Who bound their hands. This would require a very difficult and detailed investigation.’’
“This is very different from a military strike on a city,’’ he said.
Accusations can also be brought before the International Court of Justice, but the United Nations Security Council would be responsible for enforcing any ruling against Russia; as one of five members of the Security Council, Russia would have veto power over any decision.
The Human Rights Watch report comes as global outrage against Moscow mounted on Sunday following allegations that Russian forces had executed civilians in Ukraine, and as the retreat of Russian troops from the suburbs of Kyiv offered a stark picture of the devastating toll of President Vladimir V. Putin’s six-week-old war.
The brutality of the scenes are mirrored by some of the accounts from the report: One eyewitness from the town of Bucha described an execution there in early March, in which Russian soldiers forced five men to kneel on a roadside and pull their shirts over their heads before shooting one in the back of the head.