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ICC may exercise its jurisdiction in Ukraine to investigate possible war crimes

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed his concern over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said his court may investigate possible war crimes in the country. 

Khan who is currently on a mission In Bangladesh said in his statement,

" My Office may exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine"

Following a declaration lodged on 8 September 2015, a year after the Maidan revolution in Ukraine. The then Ukrainian foreign secretary accepted the jurisdiction of the ICC over Ukraine for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on its territory since February 2014.

In December 2020, the office of the prosecutor announced it had reason to believe war crimes and other crimes were committed during the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The preliminary examination was closed, but a formal request to judges to open a full investigation has not been filed yet. Judges must agree before an investigation can be opened.

Khan continued in his statement by noting,

"Any person who commits such crimes, including by ordering, inciting, or contributing in another manner to the commission of these crimes, may be liable to prosecution before the Court, with full respect for the principle of complementarity. It is imperative that all parties to the conflict respect their obligations under international humanitarian law."

In his statement, Khan touched upon queries relating to amendments to the Rome Statute with respect to the crime of aggression, which came into force in 2018, and the application of those amendments to the present situation in Ukraine. 

He noted,

"Given that neither Ukraine nor the Russian Federation are State Parties to the Rome Statute, the Court cannot exercise jurisdiction over this alleged crime in this situation."

Read more at Reuters and the Full ICC statement here

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