The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has completed a preliminary investigation into the situation in Ukraine, which concerns war crimes and crimes against humanity in eastern Ukraine and the occupied Crimea.

This piece of news became known during the meeting of Gunduz Memmedov, deputy general prosecutor of Ukraine, with Ms. Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The completion of the preliminary investigation means that crimes against humanity during the armed conflict in Crimea and Donbas can be investigated to the full extent over its results after a full-fledged investigation opening.

As the court’s press service informed, Ms. Fatou Bensouda noted that within a thorough and independent review process the situation in Ukraine was found to meet the criteria of the Statute for the opening of an investigation.

“My office has concluded that there were reasonable grounds currently to believe that a wide range of acts committed amidst the situation in Ukraine constitutes war crimes and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. These findings will be discussed more precisely in our annual Preliminary Investigation Report. My office will do its utmost to ensure the integrity of future investigations into the situation in Ukraine,” the ICC prosecutor said.

Memmedov noted that efficient cooperation has been established with the ICC Prosecutor’s Office, and thanked for the decision.

“The evidence gathered by national law enforcement agencies and the prosecutor’s office, together with Ukrainian and international non-governmental organisations, has become a sufficient basis and convincing arguments for the highest international body in the criminal justice field. Therefore, faith in international law will continue to inspire Ukrainians. No one should escape punishment,” Memmedov stated.

He noted that almost seven years of armed aggression have proven that efforts at the national level alone are not enough. The investigators and prosecutors do not have access to the occupied territories, which makes it impossible to conduct investigative actions, interviewing victims and witnesses. Besides, forced “passportisation” by the Russian Federation and illegal movement of civilians can lead to the loss of valuable witnesses.

As Dmytro Kuleba, minister for foreign affairs of Ukraine stated in his Twitter, Ukraine appealed to the International Criminal Court in 2015.

“Prosecutors have studied the documents and announced a historic decision today: there were all the grounds to launch a formal investigation… The day will come when Russian criminals will be brought to justice,” Kuleba said.

According to him, international justice is not prompt but inevitable.

Bohdan Marusyak

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