A request from 39 countries, including Spain, has allowed the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an investigation today in Ukraine for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“I have notified the ICC Presidency a few moments ago of my decision to immediately proceed with active investigations,” said the chief prosecutor of the ICC, Karim Khanit’s a statement.
The British jurist announced on February 28 his intention to open an investigation for crimes “committed by any of the parties throughout the territory of Ukraine.”
The procedures proposed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in The Hague usually require the approval of a preliminary questions chamber made up of three judges.
However, the referral presented by 39 countries, including Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, Canada, Australia, Colombia and Costa Rica, among others, eliminates the requirement of the authorization of the magistrates and allows the ICC Prosecutor’s Office automatically start the investigations.
“My Office has found a reasonable basis to believe that crimes have been committed within the jurisdiction of the Court, and has identified possible cases that would be admissible”warned the chief prosecutor.
“I reiterate my appeal to all those taking part in the hostilities in Ukraine to strictly adhere to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law.”he added khanwhich reiterated that neither party “has a license to commit crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are States Parties to the ICC, but Kiev submitted two requestsin November 2013 and in February 2014, with which he accepted the jurisdiction of the court.
The predecessor of the current chief prosecutor of the CPIFatou Bensouda warned in December 2020 of his intention to open an investigation into crimes committed on the Crimean peninsula and in the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, in eastern Ukraine.
However, Chief Prosecutor Khan clarified today that the investigations begin from November 21, 2013 “onwards”, so his jurisdiction covers “any past and present accusation of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide”.
The ICC’s announcement comes five days before the start of the trial in Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia for genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest court.
Both courts are located in the Dutch city of The Hague. The ICC processes the criminal liability of individuals, while the ICJ deals with disputes between states.