Sat. Jun 3rd, 2023

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than 70,000 alleged war crimes have been reported, but the process of prosecuting these crimes appears to be very difficult.

How are war crimes investigations being conducted in Ukraine?
How are war crimes investigations being conducted in Ukraine?


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Ukrainian and Western officials say there is evidence of thousands of such incidents, including murders and executions, shelling of civilian infrastructure, forced deportations, child abductions, torture, sexual violence and illegal detention.

But Russia has repeatedly denied that its forces have attacked or committed atrocities against civilians in Ukraine. The problem is that successful war crimes prosecutions require a high standard of evidence.

Prosecuting a case in such a situation is very difficult, where access to suspects and crime scenes is usually limited. Second, the prosecution of alleged war crimes in such a region becomes a very complex process, where jurisdictions between national and international courts are not governed by a single system, but either wholesale or partial. Works together.

Who is investigating war crimes in Ukraine?

Ukraine’s war crimes prosecutors are working with a ‘mobile team of the judiciary’. Department of Justice and French teams are investigating the alleged violations with the support of international legal experts. The investigation has been ongoing since February 24, 2022, mainly in the southern and eastern part of Ukraine. This is the area where the land has been retaken by the Russian forces.

Local courts are focusing on the “direct commission” of crimes. According to reports, 26 low-ranking Russian military officers have been convicted of rape, murder, shelling of residential infrastructure, brutal treatment of civilians and looting. A total of 296 people have been charged with war crimes. Is. However, holding Russian leaders accountable for these actions, because these crimes were committed on their orders, is not an easy process and could take years.

Karim Khan, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, has visited Ukraine three times in the one year period since he assumed this position. He also visited the area of ‚Äč‚ÄčKiev where civilians were allegedly massacred. They also visited the regions of Bucha, and Kharkiv, where the neighborhoods of residents of the town of Borodyanka were destroyed by shelling. According to Wayne Jordash, head of a mobile justice team active in Ukraine, “holding Russia’s top political and military leadership responsible for war crimes is a very complex and difficult task that has yet to be done.”

Evidence collection is ongoing

“Investigations over the past year have shown that Russia’s military operation is criminal in nature, as it seeks to erase Ukrainian identity on a large scale,” Van Jordash added. “Not possible without possible genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”

There is also the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, which investigates war crimes as well as wider crimes, such as crimes against humanity and genocide. The court in The Hague is expected to focus on high-profile Russian criminals.

What can the International Criminal Court do?

War crimes can be tried either in Ukraine in its own courts or in international courts, or a handful of national authorities can try them under “universal jurisdiction.”

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