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ICC and 45 nations pledge stronger cooperation on prosecuting war crimes in Ukraine

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By Shona Murray
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EU Commissioner Didier Reynders, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, ICC Public Prosecutor Karim Khan & Ukraine Attorney General Iryna Venediktova at press conference.
EU Commissioner Didier Reynders, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra, ICC Public Prosecutor Karim Khan & Ukraine Attorney General Iryna Venediktova at press conference.   -   Copyright  Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The International Criminal Court (ICC) and 45 countries have pledged stronger cooperation on prosecuting war crimes perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine.

The commitment, made at the Ukraine Accountability conference in the Hague came as a residential area in the centre of Ukraine was hit Thursday with heavy shelling killing 20 people including a baby in a stroller.

Addressing members, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the ICC to set up a war crimes tribunal.

The court’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said the international justice system must be put into action.

“As we speak children, women, and the young and the old are living in terror. Grieving about what they lost yesterday, holding their breath about what they could lose today, or what tomorrow can bring," Khan said on Thursday.

"At a time like this the law cannot be a spectator; the law cannot recline in comfort in The Hague or anywhere else for that matter when it's meant to protect or uphold certain principles that are essential for humanity.”

Khan added that there is a "need of an overarching strategy” as different countries and courts look to investigate and prosecute war crimes in Ukraine.

The matter is complicated because neither Ukraine nor Russia are members of the International Criminal Court, which means they are not strictly under its jurisdiction when it comes to prosecuting serious war crimes, like genocide or crimes against humanity – although Kyiv says it will join soon.

But Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, said her country is working with the ICC to prepare for such investigations to see where they can cooperate.

“We have procedural measures and I should work within this, we will cooperate with all courts and tribunals because for Ukraine what’s important (is) to have accountability and justice. And it’s very important to do this with the international community."