Brussels, 19 May 2022
Hague-based agency now able to safely store evidence and support investigations
New possibilities to cooperate with International Criminal Court
MEPs greenlit new rules that will allow Eurojust to safely store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to extend the mandate of Eurojust, the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, with 560 votes in favour, 17 against and 18 abstaining.
These new powers would allow the agency to store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. This evidence could consist of DNA profiles, fingerprints, photographs, videos and audio recordings.
Under the new rules, Eurojust could also process data related to these types of crimes, and share the data with the International Criminal Court (ICC) and other international organisations, as well as EU member state authorities.
A Eurojust-supported joint EU investigation team has been active in Ukraine since March 2022. In April 2022, the Commission published its proposal to extend Eurojust’s mandate following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the opening of the EU Parliament plenary session on 18 May, MEPs decided to deal with this file with an accelerated timetable, to allow the new mandate to enter info force as soon as possible.
Before the new regulation can enter into force, it will also have to be formally adopted by the Council of the EU.
S&Ds: No impunity for war crimes in Ukraine with reinforced EU support for investigations
All reported atrocities committed by the Russian armed forced in Ukraine, which include cases of rape of children, must be punished, urged the S&Ds in anticipation of today’s adoption of the European Parliament’s resolution on the fight against impunity for war crimes in Ukraine.
The real extent of war crimes will likely be much larger than documented to date. In Ukraine, at least 9,300 investigations have been opened and hundreds of suspects from Russia for alleged war crimes have been identified. This unequivocally calls for a coordinated international fight with all means available, including a special international tribunal to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine, underlined the S&D Group.
To support national and international efforts, the planned extension of the mandate of the European agency for the criminal justice cooperation (Eurojust) is timely. The enhanced mandate will give the agency the ability to analyse, store and share evidence of war crimes and in doing so will support the investigation and prosecution of these international crimes. As part of an urgent procedure, the vote to amend the Regulation on Eurojust will take place during the mini-plenary session today, after which EU governments in the Council are also expected to quickly sign off on the agreement.
Maria Arena, the S&D negotiator on the resolution on the fight against impunity for war crimes in Ukraine, and the Chair of the European Parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, said:
“The S&Ds express full support to the investigation of the alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine that is being conducted by the International Criminal Court. Also, it is of utmost importance to strengthen international coordination in the fight against impunity for war crimes in Ukraine to guarantee an efficient evidence collection, investigation and prosecution. In addition to this, as no crime should go unpunished, we are calling for the setting-up of a special international tribunal to investigate the crime of aggression against Ukraine committed by the Russian political leaders and military commanders as well as their proxies. This is needed because the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in this situation. It is crucial to ensure that the ad hoc tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine operates under the United Nations umbrella. With this objective, we are also calling on the EU member states to effectively use the principle of universal jurisdiction seeking to avoid impunity of war criminals. This principle enables a state jurisdiction over crimes against international law even when the crimes did not occur on that state’s territory, and neither the victim nor perpetrator is a national of that state.”
Juan Fernando López Aguilar, S&D Chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee and rapporteur for amending the mandate of Eurojust, said:
“National and international efforts to investigate the horrific war crimes in Ukraine are already underway. At the EU’s level, there is no time to lose in storing and securing evidence of these horrific crimes in Ukraine to help build a case against Russia’s aggression. The International Criminal Court has said they expect this to be the largest war crimes investigation ever conducted and we must play our part. By agreeing on a new mandate for Eurojust to store and analyse evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity, we are giving the EU the tools to help bring the responsible parties to justice. We have been working day and night over the past week to urgently update the rules governing Eurojust so that it is ready to support EU governments and the ICC as soon as possible in the fight against genocide and war crimes. To prevent any unnecessary delay, EU governments have already indicated they are ready to sign up to the changes proposed and as co-legislator, we should also act swiftly.”
Source – S&D (via e-Mail)
Anna Fotyga (ECR): “We need a special tribunal on Russian war crimes”
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a large number of war crimes perpetrated by Russian Federation forces have been reported and catalogued by Ukrainian authorities and the international community. During a debate of the European Parliament on a Resolution proposing ways to support Ukraine and the International Criminal Court in prosecuting war crimes, ECR Group Foreign Affairs Coordinator Anna Fotyga said: “We are aware of all the atrocities happening in Ukraine during this appalling invasion that is the next stage of the war that started in 2014. Russia is to be defeated in this war, and surely no impunity can be granted to decision-makers and perpetrators of war crimes.”
“During four decades the Russian Federation has been able to turn the attention of the West from its immediate neighbourhood and its will to conquer its neighbours. This can no longer be possible.”
The ECR Group will call for all those responsible to be brought to international justice – including the highest Russian authorities – making sure that compensation for the Ukrainian state and families is provided, possibly by seizing frozen Russian financial and other assets.
Source – ECR (via e-mail)