Amnesty International still stands in face of outcry on Ukraine
Amnesty International is bolstering its position against public criticism in light of the outcry over its report on Ukraine.
Rights group Amnesty International has adhered to its defiance of the public outcry it has been facing over its report saying Ukraine is endangering civilians.
A press release issued on Thursday saw Amnesty International accusing the authorities in Kiev of endangering civilians by setting up army bases in residential areas. The press release saw the organization subjected to a slew of attacks, with many parties saying it was promoting the Russian narrative against Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attacked the agency, accusing it of seeking to shift "the responsibility from the aggressor to the victim."
According to the organization, Kiev has been operating weapons out of bases established in residential areas in the presence of civilians, which breaches rule 23 of Article 58(b) of Additional Protocol I that separates military objectives and civilian populations.
"We have documented a pattern of Ukrainian forces putting civilians at risk and violating the laws of war when they operate in populated areas," Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard released in a statement.
"Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law."
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova commented on the report documenting Ukrainian military tactics and their consequences on civilian lives.
Zakharova confirmed that AI's allegations were true and they corroborate what Moscow has been saying throughout the conflict with Kiev.
The controversy, despite constituting the biggest crisis yet for Amnesty International under Callamard, who served as the UN's special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, marks a shift in the anti-Russian narrative championed in the West.
The report highlighted the use of cluster munitions, an internationally banned weapon under the CCM treaty, by the Ukrainian forces on Ukrainian villages.
Since the start of Russia's military operation, accusations of the use of "human shields" by Ukrainian forces were long signaled by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Following the publication of the organization's report about Ukraine, Callamard said the "social media mobs and trolls" attacking AI's research would "not dent our impartiality."
Callamard on Friday told AFP in an email that Amnesty fully stands by the report subject to the "same rigorous standards" as all of Amnesty's publications.
In a statement Sunday, Amnesty said it deeply regretted the "distress and anger" sparked by the press release, though the organization underlined that it "fully stand[s] by our findings."
Russian diplomat Vladimir Tarabrin said the situation in Ukraine has had a negative impact on international collaboration in counterterrorism measures.
While Western authorities are attempting to politicize counterterrorism problems and replace them with topics of minor relevance, such as gender and human rights, Russia is pursuing efforts in countering terrorist organizations, he said.
The Times of London wrote in an editorial that Amnesty was "shredding its credibility by serving as a megaphone for the propaganda of the Putin regime" with a report that "pays no attention to the realities of military operations."
The right-wing Daily Telegraph newspaper said amnesty "is not utterly and morally bankrupt - its anti-Western obsession has driven it into the gutter."