Human Rights Watch accuses Ukraine of using banned mines
HRW says Ukrainian forces have extensively scattered landmines around the Izyum area.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday accused Ukraine of using banned anti-personnel landmines against Russian forces, saying almost 50 civilians, including five children, had been wounded.
Distributed by rockets across a target area, the tiny PFM mines are also known as "butterfly" or "petal" mines for their distinctive shape.
"Ukrainian forces appear to have extensively scattered landmines" around the Izyum area in the northeast, HRW arms expert Steve Goose said.
Ukraine is a signatory to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and claimed it destroyed much of its Soviet stock by 2020. But in 2021 -- the year before the war erupted -- Kiev reported to the UN that over 3.3 million PFM mines contained in artillery rockets were yet to be destroyed.
HRW said its researchers on the ground saw physical evidence of such rockets and traces of the mines in the Izyum area, as well as speaking to witnesses who had themselves encountered mines, knew someone who was injured, or had been warned about the weapons.
According to HRW, "Healthcare workers said that they treated nearly 50 civilians, including at least five children, who were apparently injured from anti-personnel mines."
It added that "about half of the injuries involved traumatic amputations of the foot or lower leg, injuries consistent with PFM blast mines."
The rights group stressed that "Ukraine should recommit to the Mine Ban Treaty's strict prohibitions, open an investigation into the recent apparent use of PFM anti-personnel mines, hold those responsible to account, and take steps to secure and destroy its stocks of antipersonnel mines."
HRW said it presented the Ukrainian authorities with a summary of the findings in November.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Polishchuk did not provide direct answers to the allegations, saying, "Ukraine is a reliable member of the international community, and it fully commits to all international obligations in the sphere of mine usage. This includes the non-use of anti-personnel mines in the war."
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