A conference on the settlement of war crimes committed in Ukraine during the Russian invasion is held in The Hague, Netherlands. On that day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed that Poland, along with the European Union and a number of other countries, published a joint declaration in support of Ukraine’s complaint, which had initiated proceedings against Russia. – Prosecutors all over Poland interrogate witnesses: refugees from Ukraine and such people have already been questioned about 1,200 – said the Deputy Minister of Justice.
A conference on the settlement of war crimes committed in Ukraine during the Russian invasion is underway in The Hague on Thursday. The Polish delegation headed by the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, is taking part in the talks.
In a statement, the ministry assured that it supported “Ukraine’s complaint instituting proceedings against the Russian Federation before the International Court of Justice under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which aims to establish that Russia has no legal grounds to engage in military action against Ukraine on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of genocide. “
It was also declared that “it is in the interest of all states – parties to the Convention on Genocide, and more broadly the international community as a whole, that the Convention is not abused or improperly applied”. “Therefore, the signatories to this declaration, who are Parties to the Genocide Convention, intend to intervene in these proceedings,” wrote the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“We underline the importance of this proceeding and re-urge Russia to immediately suspend military operations in Ukraine, in line with the Court’s interim relief order of 16 March 2022.” – added signatories to the document.
As they pointed out, “Russia must be held accountable for its actions.” “We therefore believe that violations of international law by Russia entail its international liability and that losses and damages suffered by Ukraine as a result of violations of international law by Russia require full and urgent redress by Russia, in accordance with state liability law.” the authors of the declaration wrote. The declaration was signed by representatives on behalf of: Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Canada, Latvia , Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau; Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, the United States, the Marshall Islands and the European Union.
“At the same time, it should be noted that the issue of violations of international law during the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine is analyzed by the European Court of Human Rights and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the basis of 43 countries, including Poland, reported the situation in Ukraine to him,” he recalled in the Thursday statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman for the ministry, Łukasz Jasina.
Kaleta: about 1,200 witnesses in the case of Russian crimes have already been questioned in Poland
On that day, Deputy Minister of Justice Sebastian Kaleta emphasized in The Hague the importance of documenting all crimes committed in Ukraine and international cooperation in this area. The point is – as he described – that the prosecutor’s offices of different countries can exchange documentation, so that in the event of accusations or sending arrest warrants, the evidence is as rich as possible.
Kaleta recalled that the Polish prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation into the crime of aggressive war in which Ukraine fell in early March. – Prosecutors all over Poland interrogate witnesses: refugees from Ukraine and such people have already been questioned about 1,200 – he said.
He also assessed that Russia is trying to question the crimes committed in Ukraine, and that is why the meticulous gathering of evidence is so important. – Poland was the first and is a leader in this process (…) the evidence that the Polish prosecutor’s office has collected is certainly the most extensive of all those prosecutor’s offices that are investigating outside Ukraine – said Kaleta.
He added that the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office alone conducts five thousand such investigations. – We, as Poland, can support Ukraine and the international community by securing evidence at the disposal of refugees – he stressed.
The deputy head of the Ministry of Justice was also asked about a call by Ukraine to create a special tribunal that would have jurisdiction over the crime of initiating a war by Russia. He replied that talks on this matter were underway and that there were no detailed positions yet, because the matter was – as he said – extremely complicated from the point of view of international law.
– It is difficult to know today how this matter will be formally resolved, but Ukraine posits this postulate very strongly and Poland, as in these cases concerning investigations, consistently stands on the side of Ukraine – he said.
In the face of the Russian attack and Russian crimes
In early March, all EU Member States, along with other partner countries, decided to jointly present the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court. On 4 March, during the Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, ministers asked Eurojust (the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation) to fully exercise its coordinating role and to be available when needed the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The preparatory proceedings were initiated not only by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, but also by the prosecutor general of Ukraine. Investigations were also launched by authorities in several Member States. The judicial authorities of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine set up a joint investigation team, with the support of Eurojust and with the participation of the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court. The judicial authorities of Slovakia, Latvia and Estonia will soon join the team.
Main photo source: Mateusz Lachowski