The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor said Dec. 11 that a preliminary examination has found that there is a reasonable basis to believe crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, justifying the opening of an investigation. The preliminary examination was opened in April 2014 when Ukraine, not formally a member of the ICC, lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, accepting the jurisdiction of the court over possible crimes committed on its territory from November 2013 to February 2014.
The preliminary examination initially focussed on alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the Maidan Square protests against the government of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. In January 2014, Yanukovych signed a series of laws restricting the right to protest. Hundreds of thousands of civilians took to the streets in response, and a sometimes violent conflict between protesters and the police ensued. Yanukovych was forced to resign the following month.
In September 2015 the Ukrainian government lodged a second declaration pursuant to Article 12(3), accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the court over alleged crimes committed in Ukraine since February 2014, in the context of the war that broke out in the country’s east. The prosecutor therefore decided to extend the temporal scope of the existing preliminary examination to include any alleged crimes committed from February 2014 onwards.
The prosecutor said that the next step will be to request authorization from the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber to open full investigations.
From Jurist, Dec. 15. Used with permission.
Note: Some of the war crimes allegations concern Crimea, a Ukrainian territory that was unilaterally occupied and annexed by Russia in March 2014. Ukraine is accepting the court’s jurisdiction while Russia does not, which could open a dilemma for the ICC. (PBS) Ukraine has a case challenging the legality of Russia’s Crimea annexation pending before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).