Rights body urges Merkel to press Kiev on cluster bombs07 january 2015, 10:31
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday urged German Chancellor Angela Merkel to put pressure on Kiev over its use of cluster bombs and Grad rockets, AFP reports.
Merkel "should press" Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk when he is set to visit Berlin on Thursday, the global rights group, which has documented the use of such weapons by Ukrainian troops, said in a statement.
The German leader "should emphasise the need for Ukraine's Defence Ministry to issue clear and specific orders to troops fighting a Russian-backed insurgency in eastern Ukraine not to use certain explosive weapons in areas populated by civilians," Human Right Watch said.
Berlin should also "press the Ukraine authorities to conduct further investigations into allegations that Ukrainian forces were responsible for attacks in the east that failed to distinguish between civilian and military objects," the rights group said.
Human Rights Watch has documented the Ukrainian armed forces' use of highly imprecise cluster bombs and unguided Grad rockets in populated areas in its battle against pro-Russian insurgents in the separatist east.
The Ukrainian defence ministry immediately rejected the claims, while launching an internal investigation.
In December, the Ukrainian authorities told Human Rights Watch that its initial findings were that its forces were not responsible for the indiscriminate attacks.
"Ukrainian authorities have done the right thing by starting an investigation, but that will mean nothing if they do not investigate thoroughly," Human Rights Watch deputy Europe and Central Asia director Rachel Denber was quoted as saying in Tuesday's statement.
"As one of Ukraine’s most important allies, Germany has a special responsibility to make sure that the country’s leadership is actively enforcing the obligation to respect the laws of war and protect civilians," Denber added.
The Ukrainian forces have been battling pro-Russian separatist rebels for almost nine months in eastern Ukraine in a conflict in which more than 4,700 people have been killed. A ceasefire declared on December 9 has largely held despite some sporadic fighting.
Merkel is also set to meet Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at peace talks in Kazakhstan on January 15 that will also include Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Francois Hollande.