Sunday

29th May 2022

EU will support investigation into war crimes in Ukraine

  • Kyiv is currently investigating over 6,000 alleged war crimes, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor general office (Photo: Ukraine foreign ministry)
Listen to article

The European Commission has pledged to support an investigation into potential war crimes in Ukraine — following reports of atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Bucha, Irpin, and other Ukrainian cities.

"One thing is clear, there can be no impunity. Those responsible for the atrocities in war crimes in Ukraine must be held accountable, and we will do everything possible towards this goal," a commission spokesperson said on Wednesday (13 April).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The message follows a visit of EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell to Kyiv and Bucha last week — which prompted Brussels to support investigation efforts on the ground.

The EU executive has called on member states to assist with a list of requests received from the Ukrainian general prosecutor.

This includes, for instance, support in documenting war crimes, training for investigators, providing experts with forensic expertise and equipment for the secure storage of evidence, as well as secure lines of communication.

The EU advisory mission, which began operation in Kyiv in 2014, will also be tasked to cooperate with the Ukrainian general prosecutor for the collection of evidence on the ground.

Additionally, the EU has set up a joint investigation team with Ukraine to collect evidence and investigate the atrocities reported in recent weeks — in cooperation with the International Criminal Court in The Hague which in early March decided to open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

"This team supported by [the EU judicial agency] Eurojust should become the hub for swiftly exchanging information between prosecutors," the commission spokespersons said.

The EU commission also announced that it is revising the mandate of Eurojust to give them the "legal possibility" to collect and store evidence on war crimes — namely audio and video recordings. That proposal is expected in the coming weeks.

While Eurojust has "practical experience" in investigating war crimes, the current EU rules did not foresee "crimes of this extent," the spokesperson said.

In parallel, the EU commission will launch €7.5m in projects to support the investigation and large data collection on missing and disappeared persons.

'Clear patterns'

Borrell met with the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the prosecutor of Ukraine on Monday to discuss how to hold Russia accountable for "gross violations of international law."

But others, including US president Joe Biden, have described Russian actions as a "genocide".

A mission deployed by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine has found "clear patterns" of violations of international humanitarian law by Russian forces, a report revealed on Wednesday.

Russia has been accused of directing attacks against the civilian population in hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shelters, as well as depriving thousands of civilians trapped in cities under siege of their rights.

And Kyiv is currently investigating over 6,000 alleged war crimes, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor general office.

"Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine grossly violates international law and is causing massive loss of life and injury to civilians… These war crimes must stop immediately," the EU council said in a statement on Wednesday.

EU: Ukraine war makes internal rule-of-law fight essential

Hungary said the EU should demonstrate unity — instead of policing internal rule-of-law breaches. But top EU officials have defended ongoing procedures against Hungary and Poland over concerns of judicial independence and democratic backsliding.

Opinion

How east Europe's social services cope with Ukraine refugees

More than 50 percent of the 300,000 refugees that arrived in the Czech Republic are children, and 80 percent of all adult refugees are women. More is needed for employment for women and access to nurseries for children.

Opinion

More EU teams needed to prosecute Ukraine war crimes

A Joint Investigation Team combines prosecutors, police and judges from different countries who come together under the coordination of Eurojust to synchronise cross-border investigations — with a track record of achieving results: from the Bataclan attacks to the MH17 investigation.

War in Ukraine raises fears over crime threat in Europe

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has raised fears over a possible rise in criminal threats in the European Union — including an increased risk of human trafficking and sexual abuse, cyberattacks, infiltration of criminals.

Opinion

When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin

Neither Reagan nor Gorbachev achieved their goal at the famous Reykjavik summit of 1986. Despite that fact there are lessons that current leaders — particularly Vladimir Putin — could adopt from these two iconic leaders.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch journalists sue EU over banned Russia TV channels
  2. EU holding €23bn of Russian bank reserves
  3. Russia speeds up passport process in occupied Ukraine
  4. Palestinian civil society denounce Metsola's Israel visit
  5. Johnson refuses to resign after Downing Street parties report
  6. EU border police has over 2,000 agents deployed
  7. Dutch tax authorities to admit to institutional racism
  8. Rutte calls for EU pension and labour reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic delegation visits Nordic Bridges in Canada
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersClear to proceed - green shipping corridors in the Nordic Region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers agree on international climate commitments
  4. UNESDA - SOFT DRINKS EUROPEEfficient waste collection schemes, closed-loop recycling and access to recycled content are crucial to transition to a circular economy in Europe
  5. UiPathNo digital future for the EU without Intelligent Automation? Online briefing Link

Latest News

  1. EU summit will be 'unwavering' on arms for Ukraine
  2. Orbán's new state of emergency under fire
  3. EU parliament prevaricates on barring Russian lobbyists
  4. Ukraine lawyer enlists EU watchdog against Russian oil
  5. Right of Reply: Hungarian government
  6. When Reagan met Gorbachev — a history lesson for Putin
  7. Orbán oil veto to deface EU summit on Ukraine
  8. France aims for EU minimum-tax deal in June

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us