The Hague, Netherlands
The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor on Thursday called for a “comprehensive strategy” to bring perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine to justice, and officials from dozens of countries pledged to cooperate with their investigations.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, his military forces have been accused of abuses ranging from killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha to deadly attacks on civilian facilities, including the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol which an Associated Press investigation established likely killed nearly 600 people.
“The simple truth is that as we speak, children, women and men, young and old, are living in terror,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said at the opening of the trial. Ukrainian Conference on Accountability in The Hague.
Mr Khan said Thursday’s ministerial meeting addressed “a need for coordination, consistency” and “the need for a comprehensive strategy” as different nations and courts work to investigate and prosecute crimes.
The AP and Frontline, which monitor incidents in Ukraine, have so far listed 338 potential war crimes.
As the meeting began in The Hague, Russian missiles struck the central Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia in what Ukraine’s president called “an act of open terrorism” against the country’s civilian population.
Speaking to reporters after the conference, Ukraine’s Attorney General Iryna Venediktova held up a photograph that appeared to show the body of a child as she discussed Thursday’s airstrike.
“Today, 20 people killed by Russian missiles, including three children, 52 injured by Russian missiles, including children. And this information we have every day from morning to evening, from evening to morning”, a- she declared.
US State Department human rights envoy Uzra Zeya accused Russian forces of atrocities as she delivered a message to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s conference.
“Every day, war crimes increase. Rape, torture, extrajudicial executions, disappearances, forced deportations. Attacks on schools, hospitals, playgrounds, apartment buildings, grain silos, water and gas facilities,” Ms. Zeya said. “These are not the acts of rogue units – they fit a clear pattern in all parts of Ukraine affected by Russian forces.”
About 40 countries from the European Union and around the world have sent representatives to The Hague for the conference hosted by Mr Khan, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra and European Union Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders .
Investigations into military crimes committed during Ukraine’s nearly 5-month war are ongoing across Europe; more than 23,000 war crimes cases have been registered in Ukraine alone, Ms Venediktova said. The ICC and 14 EU member countries have also launched investigations.
“Words are cheap. Too many promises for too long. And I think today, in many ways, represents a realization that we, as lawyers and investigators, need to take the law off the page and put it into action,” the district attorney said. CPI, Mr. Khan, at the end of the meeting.
Delegates agreed to establish a dialogue group to link and streamline the different surveys.
“We must translate our common and strong conviction for justice into a unified response against impunity and use the results of this conference as a model to respond to the cruelties and crimes committed in Ukraine and in the rest of the world,” said Mr. Hoekstra. .
In a video message to the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for the creation of an international tribunal to prosecute Russian leaders for the crime of aggression – when a state launches an unwarranted attack on a other.
The ICC has no jurisdiction to prosecute the crime of aggression in Ukraine because neither Russia nor Ukraine are among the Court’s 123 member states.
Kyiv, however, accepted the tribunal’s jurisdiction and that paved the way for Khan to open an investigation in Ukraine in early March after dozens of world tribunal member countries called on him to intervene. He traveled to Ukraine to see firsthand the horrors inflicted on the country and sent the Court’s largest team of investigators to collect evidence.
So far, the court has not announced any arrest warrants for suspects in the investigation that could reach the top of Russia’s military chain of command, as well as the Kremlin.
The ICC is a court of last resort that opens cases when other countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute. The Hague-based tribunal has no police force to make arrests and relies on help from other countries to detain suspects.
The EU’s judicial cooperation agency, Eurojust, helped set up a joint investigation team made up of Ukraine and five other European countries. The team is supposed to help facilitate the sharing of evidence.
This story was reported by the Associated Press.
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