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The small Ukrainian commuter town of Bucha, on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv, has become a symbol of the violence and horrors caused by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians. The pictures of numerous bodies lying in a quiet residential street after the Russian withdrawal, forced the world to take the allegations of war crimes to a new level of seriousness.
As the first of a two-part series, we go back to the moment when it all started with Danny Kemp, AFP Bureau Chief in the Hague, and part of the first convoy to find the bodies. Danny was behind that first news alert that hit the wire on April 2nd, “At least 20 bodies seen in one street in town near Kyiv: AFP”. He also later wrote a piece about Bucha and the experience he shared with the team including the photographer and the videographer.
He walks us through his time reporting in Ukraine, the days leading to their first trip to Bucha, the journalistic practices that guided his work, and the danger of disinformation campaigns. As Bucha could end up at the International Criminal Court in the future, we also look at the role that journalists can or cannot play in trials.
The content of the episode might be distressing to some. As we mention, here is a resource on how to deal with secondary trauma.
As a good read to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Ukraine, and with many parallels to the current war, Danny suggests Vasily Grossman’s Life and Faith, while he leaves it to skateboarding videos to keep him distracted.
This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between Asymmetrical Haircuts and JusticeInfo.net. JusticeInfo is an independent website covering news on justice related to mass violence, so as to promote reconciliation and fight impunity in societies facing serious crises. It is a project of Fondation Hirondelle.
Our short, newsy justice updates
North Korea means nukes and famine and extraordinary political repression for most of us. But basic human rights are being systematically violated in places like the North Korean penal system, according to Korea Future, a South Korean NGO. They talked to 259 survivors, witnesses – and perpetrators – and have put a comprehensive account of the violations and penal facilities documented in the North Korean Prison Database they created. The main breaches in international law, they say, are Denial of Health, Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; Arbitrary Deprivation of Liberty; Forced Labour; and Rape and Other Forms of Sexual Violence.
Korea Future’s co-director Hae Ju Kang and investigator Shirley Lee tell us about their work and goals. Collecting and preserving evidence, they explain, is not only a way to hold perpetrators accountable but also to show survivors that these crimes will not be forgotten.
In 2014, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry was the first to document crimes against humanity in North Korean prisons. These new findings support claims that violence against detainees is committed to enforce a state policy.
As Haircut fans, they also suggested two books that resonate with the situation in North Korea:
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