Reporting atrocities, a testimony from Bucha

As in most conflicts, local and international journalists are often frontline witnesses of crimes. In this new podcast by our Asymmetrical Haircuts partners, Danny Kemp, AFP bureau chief in The Hague, recounts his experience in Ukraine and last April in Bucha, where his team was faced with potential war crimes. Counting bodies and assessing how people were killed is a delicate task and may be subject to dispute. Such crimes may also at some point come before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. 

Dead bodies on Yablunska street in Bucha (Ukraine)In this photo taken on April 02, bodies of civilian lie on Yablunska street in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, the capital city of Ukraine. © Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP
1 min 28Approximate reading time

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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.

Danny reference’s other Busch stories by AFP and Reuters which you can read here and here.

The content of the episode might be distressing to some. As we mention, here is a resource on how to deal with secondary trauma.

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This podcast has been published as part of a partnership between JusticeInfo.net and Asymmetrical Haircuts, a podcast on international justice produced from The Hague by journalists Janet Anderson and Stephanie van den Berg, who retain full control and independence over the contents of the podcast.