Office tasked with investigating the Russian invasion of Ukraine opens in The Hague

Exterior view of the Eurojust building in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023.
Exterior view of the Eurojust building in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. Copyright Peter Dejong/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Euronews with wires
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After months of lobbying from Kyiv, the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA) has opened in The Hague, Netherlands.

The centre can be found within the building of the government agency Eurojust and has been backed by the EU and the US. 

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Kyiv has been lobbying for the creation of a special tribunal since hundreds of corpses were discovered after Russian troops withdrew from the town of Boutcha near the Ukrainian capital in April 2022.

International support has grown steadily, and in February the European Commission announced the creation of the ICPA.

Brussels stated that the centre's "ultimate objective is to prosecute those responsible for the invasion" of Ukraine.

"Evidence of countless international crimes committed by Russia is piling up. The new international prosecution centre will play a key role in making sure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, including for the crime of aggression," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

"We will leave no stone unturned to hold Putin and his henchmen accountable," she also said.

The involvement of the United States has added weight to the demand for the creation of a special court, even though Washington still refuses to become a member of the ICC.

During a visit to The Hague in June, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special prosecutor for the crime of aggression, Jessica Kim, as his representative to the ICPA.

Oleksandra Matviichuk, a human rights lawyer and the head of the Centre for Civil Liberties NGO, said the creation of the ICPA is "a first practical step to break the circle of impunity and to establish special tribunal on aggression to hold Putin, Lukashenko and others guilty of these crimes accountable."

"This impunity has a long-lasting Russian tradition. While Nazi war criminals were punished at the Nuremberg Tribunal, the Soviet totalitarian GULAG was never convicted or punished. Russian troops committed horrible war crimes in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Mali, Syria, and Libya. And they enjoyed impunity. Russians believed that they could do whatever they wanted.

"Sustainable peace is the freedom to live without fear and to have a long-term perspective. That is why justice is precondition to sustainable peace in our region, where Russia for decades uses wars as a tool how to achieve their geopolitical goals and uses war crimes as a method how to win these wars," the Nobel peace Prize laureate added.

The complex issue of how such a tribunal would operate remains unresolved.

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Ukraine is in favour of obtaining a resolution from the United Nations General Assembly.

But some of Kyiv's Western supporters fear that the initiative will not receive enough international support, and are instead calling for a hybrid tribunal made up of Ukrainian judges and judges of other nationalities.

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