Yesterday, the EU published its final report detailing international law violations that occurred during the Georgia-Russia war in August last year and its aftermath. This report highlighted many of the original findings detailed in Amnesty International’s November 2008 report (pdf). The AI report expressed concern for both parties’ use of indiscriminate force against civilians and the use of inappropriate and inaccurate weaponry in largely civilian areas. It also documented extensive looting, arson and violent attacks directed towards Georgian-majority villages in South Ossetia by South Ossetian forces, paramilitary groups and privately armed individuals. The findings of the AI report relied on research gathered from four fact finding missions and the analysis of satellite imagery provided by AIUSA’s Science for Human Rights project .
Some of the findings of the new EU Report include:
- The shelling of Tskhinvali (the South Ossetian capital) by the Georgian armed forces during the night of 7 to 8 August 2008 was not justifiable under international law and marked the beginning of the conflict
- Russia violated international law by recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations and by distributing international passports within those areas.
- Russian forces were guilty of turning a blind eye to ethnic cleansing practiced against ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia both during the war and after the August 2008 conflict ended
- Russia’s repeated accusations that Georgia committed genocide were also found to be false
- While Russia’s initial actions in fighting back against attacks in South Ossetia were justified, the level of force used to push back into Georgia “went far beyond the reasonable limits of defense” and was “in violation of international law”.
The refugee crisis in the region remains since Russia is still refusing to allow ethnic Georgian refugees to return to their homes in South Ossetia Furthermore, the EU report concludes that the risk of renewed violence remains.