The request, made by 39 countries, including Spain, allowed the prosecutor’s office International Criminal Court (ICC) open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.
Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the ICC, announced on February 28 his intention to launch an investigation into crimes committed by either side throughout Ukraine. “My service has found reasonable grounds to believe that the crimes were committed within the jurisdiction of the court and has identified possible cases that would be admissible,” the chief prosecutor said.
In December 2020, his predecessor in office, Fatou Bensouda, already wanted to file a case for crimes in Crimean peninsula and in the self-proclaimed pro-Russian republics Donetsk as well as Lugansk.
On this occasion, Karim Khan made it clear that the investigation would begin on November 21, 2013, as his jurisdiction extends to “any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide.”
France, Portugal, Italy, Canada, or Colombia are among the other 39 countries that have submitted this request, which allow the requirement for the permission of magistrates to be removed and authorize the ICC prosecutor’s office to automatically open investigations.
“I reiterate my call to all those taking part in the fighting in Ukraine to strictly comply with applicable international humanitarian law,” Khan warned. In addition to repeating that neither party is “licensed to commit crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC”.
What is the International Criminal Court?
The International Criminal Court was established on 17 July 1998 under the Rome Statute. Is the first permanent international tribunal responsibility for dealing with crimes against humanity, genocide, war or crimes against humanity. This statute allows the ICC to operate in various scenarios:
On the one hand, when one of the states parties to the treaty informs the prosecutor’s office of a situation where war crimes appear to have been committed. Neither Russia nor Ukraine has adopted the Rome Statute. Therefore, they could not benefit from this scenario.
On the other hand, the ICC can intervene at the request of the UN Security Council. However, since Russia has veto power in this council, this is unlikely to happen.
The third situation we are currently in is when the CPI receives information from any source about facts that may be within its competence. It is for this reason that 39 countries submitted the above request.
What can they be accused of?
Crimes against humanity and war crimes are listed in Articles 7 and 8 of the Rome Statute. These crimes are widespread acts such as attacks on civilians, destruction of civilian buildings and facilities or materials intended for peacekeeping missions, forced deportation, hostage-taking, or attacks on personal dignity such as rape or forced prostitution.
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