“Being in a defensive position does not exempt the Ukrainian military from respecting international humanitarian law,” she said on Thursday.
Russian state-sponsored media quoted the report to support Moscow’s claim that Russia has only launched strikes on military targets during the war. The spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry cited the Amnesty International assertions as proof that Ukraine was using civilians as human shields.
Multiple Western scholars of international and military law went on social media to reject the human shield claim. They said the report contained poor phrasing that muddied legal distinctions and ignored the combat conditions in Ukraine.
United Nations war crimes investigator Marc Garlasco, tweeting in a personal capacity on Friday, accused Amnesty International of “getting the law wrong” and said Ukraine was taking steps to protect civilians, such as helping them relocate.
Ukrainian authorities at the national and regional level have repeatedly urged residents of frontline areas to evacuate, although tens of thousands of people who left their homes since Russia’s invasion have returned after running out of support or feeling unwelcome.
Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky and the country’s foreign and defence ministers, have been scathing in their condemnation of the report, which they said failed to provide context on Russia’s bombardments of populated areas and documented attacks on civilians.
Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary-general, posted a tweet Friday that defended the organisation’s work and took aim at its critics.
“Ukrainian and Russian social media mobs and trolls: they are all at it today attacking Amnesty investigations. This is called war propaganda, disinformation, misinformation. This won’t dent our impartiality and won’t change the facts,” she wrote.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba issued an angry response to Callamard in which he accused her organisation of “fake neutrality” and playing into the Kremlin’s hands.
“Apparently, Amnesty’s Secretary General calls me a ‘mob’ and a ‘troll’, but this won’t stop me from saying that its report distorts reality, draws false moral equivalence between the aggressor and the victim, and boosts Russia’s disinformation effort. This is fake ‘neutrality’, not truthfulness,” Kuleba wrote on Twitter.
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