Sun. Jul 3rd, 2022

Statement : 

Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, on his visits to Ukraine and Poland: “Engagement with all actors critical for effective, independent investigations”:

Today, I visited western Ukraine and Poland in connection with the ongoing investigation by my Office into the Situation in the Ukraine. This has allowed me to personally assess the situation on the ground, meet with affected communities and to further accelerate our work by engaging with national counterparts.

During my time in western Ukraine, I met with Excellencies, Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Iryna Venediktova, Prosecutor-General of Ukraine. My message was clear: we stand ready to work with all relevant national authorities in order to obtain information, build a collective effort to establish the truth and ensure that individuals responsible for international crimes are held accountable in a court of law. I am sincerely grateful for the willingness of the Foreign Minister and the Prosecutor-General to meet at an incredibly difficult time for all those in Ukraine.

I was also pleased to have the opportunity during my visit to meet virtually with His Excellency, Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. We were united in our view that every possible effort should be made to ensure that the conduct of hostilities does not give rise to breaches of international humanitarian law and that civilians are protected from the effects of conflict. I emphasised my willingness to expand collaboration with all relevant national authorities in order that we can together ensure that alleged violations of international law are thoroughly investigated.

During my visit, I have also had the opportunity to meet with those who have been forced to flee due to the hostilities in Ukraine at Medyka refugee reception centre in Poland. The accounts I have heard from men, women and children have deepened my concern regarding the impact of this situation on the civilian population.

I wish to send a clear message to all those participating in hostilities.

If attacks are intentionally directed against the civilian population: that is a crime that my Office may investigative and prosecute. If attacks are intentionally directed against civilian objects, including hospitals: that is a crime that my Office may investigate and prosecute.

Those taking part in these hostilities, whether as regular armed forces, militias, or self-defence groups, must know that in putting on a uniform or by carrying weapons they are not absolved of responsibility but indeed they take on extra legal obligations. For those that do not act in accordance with international humanitarian law, my Office is empowered to take action to ensure that those who have committed international crimes are held accountable in accordance with the Rome Statute. We are already actively collecting evidence in pursuit of this objective, and I believe my visit today will strengthen that work.

The work of my Office in relation to the Situation in Ukraine will at all times be carried out in a manner consistent with the founding principles of the Rome Statute. We conduct our work with independence, impartiality and integrity. I have underlined that I wish to engage with all parties to the conflict.

In line with this approach, I have also transmitted a formal request to the Russian Federation to meet their competent authorities and discuss the current situation as it concerns my Office’s mandate. It is in my view essential that the Russian Federation actively engages in this investigation and I stand ready to meet with them.

My visit to Ukraine has also underlined the significant task we face in ensuring that the full range of documentary, digital, forensic and testimonial evidence is drawn upon as part of our investigations. The scale of this investigation and the challenging environment in which it will be conducted give rise to unavoidable demands on my Office which I intend to meet with an effective response.

It is therefore essential that the collective support of all States Parties is maintained as our work now moves to an important stage. I would reiterate my call to those States to provide assistance to my Office including through voluntary financial contributions and the provision of national experts on a secondment basis. This will be essential in addressing the urgent resource needs of my Office and in allowing us to effectively address all situations presently under investigation or in trial.

I wish to extend my thanks to the Polish authorities for their support with respect to the elements of my visit held in Poland today. I was pleased to hold an initial meeting this afternoon with His Excellency, Zbigniew Ziobro, Minister of Justice of Poland. Tomorrow, I will be engaging with other senior government officials in Warsaw to further strengthen the basis for collective action towards accountability for atrocity crimes.

If you have information relevant to the Situation in the Ukraine, please contact the Office of the Prosecutor through a specially designated portal, which can be accessed by clicking here.

For further details on “preliminary examinations” and “situations and cases” before the Court, click here, and here.

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int

 


Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, on the Situation in Ukraine: Additional Referrals from Japan and North Macedonia; Contact portal launched for provision of information

On 28 February 2022, I announced my decision to seek authorisation to open an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, on the basis of my Office’s earlier conclusions arising from its preliminary examination, and encompassing any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”). By 2 March, my Office had received referrals of the Situation in Ukraine from 39 ICC States Parties, allowing me to immediately open an investigation and commence evidence-collection.

Today, I can confirm that an additional two States, Japan and North Macedonia have referred the Situation in Ukraine to my Office, bringing the total number of referring States to 41.

I note that this action by Japan represents an expansion of the regional groups engaged in the referral of the Ukraine situation. They are the first Asian State to do so. I am grateful to Japan for this further expression of their staunch support for the work of my Office, which is already reflected by their position as leading financial contributor to the ICC.

My Office has responded immediately to this unprecedented collective call for action by States Parties. The investigative team that I deployed to the region last week has already commenced evidence-collection activities. I am also personally seeking to engage with all relevant stakeholders and parties to the conflict with the aim of strengthening channels for the collection of relevant information and engendering coordinated action towards our common goal of ensuring accountability for crimes falling within ICC jurisdiction.

International criminal investigations require the engagement of all those who may hold information relevant to our work. Witnesses, survivors and affected communities in particular must be empowered to actively contribute to our investigations. There can be no bystanders in our effort to establish the truth and pursue those allegedly responsible for international crimes.

I can therefore announce today that my Office has established a dedicated portal through which any person that may hold information relevant to the Ukraine situation can contact our investigators. I encourage all those with relevant information to come forward and contact our Team through this platform, which can be accessed here.

We will be circulating this portal widely on social media channels and I would encourage all relevant stakeholders, including media outlets, both local to the Situation in Ukraine and internationally, to raise awareness of this platform.

The collective support of all States Parties and the international community more broadly will also continue to be essential as my Office moves to accelerate its work across all its investigations. To this end, I can further announce that I have circulated a formal communication extending an invitation to all States Parties to provide assistance to my Office including through voluntary financial contributions and the provision of national experts on a secondment basis. This will be essential in addressing the urgent resource needs of my Office and in allowing us to effectively address all situations presently under investigation or in trial. I have already been encouraged by the initial response from States Parties to this call for support.

I wish to conclude by underlining that, as our investigation team continues its work on the ground, I am closely following the deeply troubling developments in hostilities. The events of recent days require me to again emphasise that all those involved in this conflict must adhere strictly to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law.

I note, in particular, that if attacks are intentionally directed against the civilian population: that is a crime. If attacks are intentionally directed against civilian objects: that is a crime. I strongly urge parties to the conflict to avoid the use of heavy explosive weapons in populated areas

There is no legal justification, there is no excuse, for attacks which are indiscriminate, or which are disproportionate in their effects on the civilian population.

My Office will continue its work on the Situation in Ukraine and will seek to further deepen its engagement with all actors in pursuit of our common objective in ensuring accountability for international crimes.

For further details on “preliminary examinations” and “situations and cases” before the Court, click here, and here.

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: OTPNewsDesk@icc-cpi.int