EU will support war crimes investigations in Ukraine

The European Commission has pledged to support an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine, following reports of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, Irpin and other Ukrainian towns.

“One thing is clear, there can be no impunity. Those responsible for war crimes atrocities in Ukraine must be held accountable, and we will do everything we can to achieve this goal,” a spokesperson for the commission said on Wednesday (April 13).

The post follows a visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to Kyiv and Bucha last week – prompting Brussels to back investigative efforts in the field.

The EU executive called on member states to provide a list of requests received from the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.

This includes, for example, support for the documentation of war crimes, the training of investigators, the provision of forensic experts and equipment for the secure storage of evidence, as well as secure lines of communication.

The EU advisory mission, which started operations in Kyiv in 2014, will also be responsible for cooperating with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General in collecting evidence on the ground.

In addition, the EU has set up a joint investigation team with Ukraine to collect evidence and investigate the atrocities reported in recent weeks – in cooperation with the International Criminal Court in The Hague which decided in early March to open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine. .

“This team supported by [the EU judicial agency] Eurojust should become the hub for the rapid exchange of information between prosecutors,” the commission’s spokespersons said.

The European Commission also announced that it was revising Eurojust’s mandate to give them the “legal possibility” to collect and store war crimes evidence, namely audio and video recordings. This proposal is expected in the coming weeks.

While Eurojust has “practical experience” in investigating war crimes, current EU rules did not provide for “crimes of this magnitude”, the spokesperson said.

In parallel, the European Commission will launch 7.5 million euros in projects to support the investigation and large-scale data collection on missing persons.

“Clear Models”

Borrell met with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the prosecutor of Ukraine on Monday to discuss how to hold Russia accountable for “gross violations of international law.”

But others, including US President Joe Biden, called the Russian actions “genocide”.

A mission deployed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine has uncovered “clear patterns” of violations of international humanitarian law by Russian forces, a report said on Wednesday.

Russia has been accused of directing attacks against the civilian population in hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters, as well as depriving the rights of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged cities.

And Kyiv is currently investigating more than 6,000 alleged war crimes, according to Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office.

“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine flagrantly violates international law and causes massive loss of civilian life and injury…These war crimes must stop immediately,” the council said on Wednesday. of the EU in a press release.

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