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‘OSCE didn’t find any evidence of the use of cluster munitions in Donbas’ - OSCE mission speaker
23 October, 2014
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Michael Bociurkiw, OSCE monitoring mission speaker, in his interview to Hromadske TV, speaks about the work features of OSCE mission and the number of their monitors in Donbas. He also informs on the lack of evidence of the cluster bombs use on Eastern territories and explains why this is almost impossible to engage international expert agencies for investigation of the weapons used now.   

Thank you, Michael, for joining us. We would like to clarify regarding this report from Human Rights Watch on widespread use of cluster munitions in Donbas. What would be the comment from OSCE since your mission works there?

Of course, we have seen those reports, we looked at them. For the time being there our monitors (which we have about a hundred in Eastern Ukraine) have not seen any evidence of that. Many of our colleagues are from military forces, they do know how to recognize these munitions, but they have not seen any of that for the time being. If we see them, we will report them.

Does your mission deals with particular cases of the use of, for instance, ‘Smerch’, ‘Uragan’ and these kinds of rockets? Do you explore these things particularly?

Our daily reports are available lively on internet. Sometimes we do identify the types of munitions we spot. It’s not our responsibility because of security reasons, but it gets us closer to what kind of munitions are used. But again, for the moment we have not seen ourselves cluster munitions. We’re not saying they are not there, but we have not seen them. I must underline one point is that our mission is impartial, neutral and transparent, so we only report what we actually see with our own eyes. We don’t speculate. We go and verify and do the double-check and triple check.  

If you look through the report, you would see the Human Rights Watch expert who has photos and went to some of the sides. How would you investigate this case because it is already very public and controversial. 

These are very sensitive times and we have to be so careful in our monitoring work that we don’t just report or repeat what’s been said on YouTube video or where else. It is very important thing that we, as a monitoring mission, establish the facts and then report what we have seen. Crucial part of our work is establishing the facts, making sure what we actually report we have seen with our own eyes.

Is there people in your team who would really do this investigation of the weapon which is used?

It is important to underline that we are civilian unarmed monitoring mission, so we have people with wide range of skills. We have people who worked for military, human rights experts. So we have been told from time to time to look at specific cases but we don’t have this particular skills in our monitoring mission. However, if some of our monitors are able to spot those kinds of things, we will identify and report them.

And so far it’s the ceasefire. However, while we work in the field, there is a constant shelling from time to time in different areas of Donbas. What is the most common ammunition used by the sides (both UA army and separatists)? Because the shelling is there and it can’t be denied.

Yes, we have noted in our reports over past 2 weeks the deterioration of the general security situation because of the shelling. But we’re not in the position oftentimes to identify the type of munition used, or where the certain shell has come from. We’re civilian mission and mostly on foot or in armored vehicles, this makes it very difficult.  

In this situation who is responsible for the expertise? If there’s a need for further investigation, how can it be done properly according to all the standards?  Which organization is able to get a very clear information?

There’s a number of agencies with expertise, the UN among others. But again, the invitation to those agencies have to be made by the authority in charge of that particular area. I can tell you as well that many areas around Donetsk are very dangerous at the moment because of shelling so it is very difficult to get certain civilian agencies in there because of the security protocols. This gives you an idea about our mission taken right now. We have about a hundred civilian monitors up there. There is certainly a lot of risk, the work is very difficult and dangerous. And yet, they go there day after day to monitor and we hope that all of the information that we report, will be of use to our 57 participating states, including Ukraine and Russia, to take further actions.