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ICC to open Ukraine war crimes probe as Russia bombs Kyiv

ICC to open Ukraine war crimes investigation as Russia pounds Kyiv
3 min read
02 March, 2022
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan has announced that an investigation into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine has been opened, and the collection of evidence has begun.
Ukraine is not a signatory to the Rome statute, but has previously accepted its jurisdiction [Getty]

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that it will open an investigation into war crimes committed during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine

In a statement, the ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan QC confirmed the intention to open an investigation "as rapidly as possible".

"Last Friday, I expressed my increasing concern, echoing those of world leaders and citizens of the world alike, over the events unfolding in Ukraine," the statement read.

"Today, I wish to announce that I have decided to proceed with opening an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine, as rapidly as possible."

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, accusations of war crimes have been made against Putin’s invading army, with observers pointing in particular to the indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas.

"I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to believe that both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine in relation to the events already assessed during the preliminary examination by the Office," Khan stated. 

Khan noted the ongoing nature of the conflict but added that the ICC will continue to collect accusations and testimonies. 

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"Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, it is my intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my Office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine," he said. 

Furthermore, he said that the team at the ICC were exploring ways to preserve any evidence of war crimes. 

All parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC are subject to the jurisdiction of the court, and while Ukraine is not a signatory to the statute, it has twice previously accepted the courts' jurisdiction. 

"The first declaration lodged by the Government of Ukraine accepted ICC jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes committed on Ukrainian territory from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014," Khan explained in his statement.

"The second declaration extended this time period on an open-ended basis to encompass ongoing alleged crimes committed throughout the territory of Ukraine from 20 February 2014 onwards."


Russia is also not a signatory to the ICC. 

Khan called on the states that are party to the ICC to ensure that the resources needed by the court are made available so that proper investigations can be carried out. 

"The importance and urgency of our mission is too serious to be held hostage to lack of means," Khan said. 

The prosecutor concluded his statement by saying that the ICC intends to continue monitoring the conflict, and urged peace.

"I will continue to closely follow developments on the ground in Ukraine, and again call for restraint and strict adherence to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law."