The main news of Tuesday, November 15, undoubtedly becomes a chapter on Ukraine of the annual report of the preliminary investigation of a prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The report suggests that «the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This international armed conflict began at the latest on 26 February when the Russian Federation deployed members of its armed forces to gain control over parts of the Ukrainian territory without the consent of the Ukrainian Government».
In addition to the media, experts commented the report. Mykola Hnatovskyi, an Associate Professor of International Law at the Institute of International Relations of Kyiv National University, said that the work of ICC to investigate crimes against international law in Ukraine does not exempt the State from the obligation to investigate and bring perpetrators to justice. According to him, it “only underlines the need to intensify the investigations, bringing to them all the resources available.”
He notes: “There are many conclusions, but the main are two:
– If anyone thought that ICC is not serious, it is not serious; this is very serious;
– Work of ICC concerning the investigation of crimes against international law in Ukraine does not relieve our country of the duty to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. It underlines the need to intensify the investigations, bringing to them all the resources available (and, preferably, international assistance). The more Ukraine would do at home, the less it would regret later on what would happen in The Hague”.
Oleksandra Delemenchuk, an Expert in International Advocacy of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, stresses that the report of ICC provides legal certainty to the assessment of the conflicts in Ukraine:
“The prosecutor’s report recognized that the conflict in Crimea is an international conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which led to the occupation regime. Also, it tells that the conflict in Donbas, at certain time intervals acquired an international character along with a non-international conflict and that the Office of the Prosecutor is analyzing the evidence that can confirm that the conflict always has been international. Thus, ICC provides legal certainty to the assessment of the conflict in Ukraine, which for a long time has been the subject of controversy. Also, the report lists the types and scale of the crimes in conflict zones. ”
Also, the expert notes that the report is only a preliminary study and a basis for further work.
“It all creates a basis for further work on bringing penetrators to justice. However, we should remember that this is only the preliminary study. The work of ICC may take quite a long time “, said Oleksandra Delemenchuk.
Daria Svyrydova, a lawyer at UHHRU, notes the importance of an unambiguous assessment of international legal documents on crimes committed by Russia in the Crimean peninsula:
“It is an important report of the Office of the Prosecutor of ICC in part of the assessment of the situation in Crimea. The report indicates the presence of international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia, which began no later than February 26, 2014, with the involvement of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and has a long-term nature. The facts that were clear from international legal documents now received an unambiguous assessment in this report.”
The human rights activist expressed confidence concerning further investigation of a number of international crimes.
“After the publication, no doubts should remain that in future ICC will consider the issue of the commission of international crimes by Russia in the Crimea from the end of February 2014. Including, according to the report, among the alleged crimes the following issues are being studied: forced military service, which now gains momentum in the peninsula, and involuntary relocation of prisoners from Crimea to Russia, which recently was mentioned by PACE “, said Daria Svyrydova.
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