Karim Khan, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) yesterday announced the opening “as soon as possible” investigation of the situation in Ukraine, referring to “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”. Last week, he already announced “rising concern” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pledged to follow the situation closely and called on the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law. “I have reviewed the Office’s findings from a preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine and have confirmed that there is a reasonable basis for continuing the initiation of the investigation.”said Mr. Khan in a statement.
The prosecutor of the ICC, the tribunal set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst atrocities, said to himself “convinced that there are reasonable grounds to believe that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine”. “Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, I intend that this investigation also include all new allegations of crimes within the jurisdiction of my Office committed by any party to the conflict in any part of the territory of Ukraine »Mr Khan said.
Ukraine has not signed the Rome Statute, the international treaty that established the ICC, but it does formally recognize the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory. The next step is “to continue the process of seeking and obtaining authorization from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the Court to open an investigation”said the prosecutor.
In April 2014, Ukraine recognized the jurisdiction of the courts during the period from November 21, 2013 to February 22, 2014, for crimes committed before and during the fall of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. As a result, a preliminary investigation was opened in April 2014. In 2015, Kyiv again recognized the jurisdiction of the ICC, this time for crimes committed after February 2014, particularly during the conflict in the east of the country. .
Khan’s predecessor, Fatou Bensouda, in December 2020, after a preliminary examination by his service, stated that “various behaviors that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity” has been carried out in Ukraine, calling for a full investigation. Kiev at the time welcomed this announcement, which was described as “historic decision”.
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