The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced this Wednesday the opening of an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine, currently assaulted by Russian troops.
“I have just notified the ICC Presidency of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations into the situation in Ukraine,” prosecutor Karim Khan wrote. “Our work of collecting evidence has already begun,” he added.
Active investigations formally commence in Ukraine situation upon receipt of referrals by 39 states parties: https://t.co/DDkDs7qHlc
— Karim AA Khan QC (@KarimKhanQC) March 2, 2022
His office received the support of 39 countries that include all the members of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Albania, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland and several Latin American countries such as Colombia and Costa Rica.
Khan had announced on Monday that he was opening an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Russia in its invasion of Ukraine launched the previous week.
The prosecutor said he saw “a reasonable basis” to believe that crimes had been committed in Ukraine that could fall within his jurisdiction.
But before proceeding with his investigation, the prosecutor needed the approval of the court judges in The Hague. However, the backing of these ICC countries allows it to proceed without a green light from the judges. This “allows my office to proceed to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine from November 21, 2013 onwards,” the British prosecutor said.
This will include “any past and present accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed in any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person,” he explained.
Khan, recently appointed ICC prosecutor, said his investigation will be carried out “objectively and independently” and will focus “on ensuring accountability for crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
Founded in 2002, the ICC was established as an independent court to investigate people accused of the worst crimes, but it can only prosecute crimes committed in the territory of its 123 member states.
Ukraine is not a member, but in 2014 it accepted the Court’s jurisdiction. Instead, Russia left the ICC, so its citizens could only be arrested in countries that accept its jurisdiction.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.