Ukraine: ICC investigation a crucial element for comprehensive international justice
On Friday 11 December, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor announced that she has concluded her preliminary examination in Ukraine and will seek a full investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.
These include murder and torture committed during the ‘EuroMaidan’ protests in 2013 - 2014, and war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by all sides to the conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2014, and in Crimea after the peninsula’s Russian occupation and illegal annexation in 2014.
This must mark the beginning of the end of a long and dark chapter of impunity and injustice in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as for crimes that took place during ‘EuroMaidan’.
Responding to the decision, Oksana Pokalchuk, Head of Amnesty International Ukraine, said:
“This decision provides a glimmer of hope to victims of appalling crimes under international law in Ukraine, who have already waited years to see perpetrators held to account. The ICC Prosecutor’s announcement must mark the beginning of the end of a long and dark chapter of impunity and injustice in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, as well as for crimes that took place during ‘EuroMaidan’.
“Given the challenges that an ICC investigation will likely face, due to the ongoing Russian occupation of Crimea and Russia’s continuing support to armed groups in eastern Ukraine, it is essential that the Ukrainian authorities and the international community offer their full cooperation to the ICC Prosecutor’s office and demand the same of Russia. We also urge the Ukrainian authorities, human rights and humanitarian groups and any other relevant stakeholders to ensure the preservation of evidence that will be crucial for the ICC’s investigation.
Only a first step
‘We welcome the ICC Prosecutor’s decision, but this is only the first step. An ICC investigation must be a part of a comprehensive international justice strategy for Ukraine, which will also require Ukrainian authorities to meet their primary obligations to conduct full, independent, impartial, and effective investigations into all crimes committed on their territory.”