War Crimes: Russia

Attorney General written question – answered on 12th July 2022.

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Photo of Matt Vickers Matt Vickers Conservative, Stockton South

To ask the Attorney General, what steps the Government is taking to support the Ukrainian Government with (a) investigations and (b) prosecutions of possible Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson The Solicitor-General

The Government is appalled by the atrocities being committed in Ukraine by Russian forces, including the targeting of civilians, mass graves, and rape and sexual violence being used as weapons of war. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine, at the forefront of international efforts to ensure there is no impunity.

The Attorney General has an ongoing and fruitful dialogue with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (PG), having signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with her to underline UK support for her Office’s work investigating and prosecuting crimes committed in the course of the conflict and visited the Prosecutor General in Ukraine. The Attorney and former Solicitor General hosted the PG for a two-day visit in London at the end of May. The Attorney has also appointed Sir Howard Morrison QC, one of the UK’s leading war crimes lawyers, to support her directly on her domestic investigations.

The Attorney convened a meeting of the Quintet of Attorneys General from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, with Prosecutor General Venediktova. Following this meeting, we published a joint statement which makes clear our countries’ support for Ukraine’s domestics war crimes investigations and prosecutions, and our commitment to work together with the Prosecutor General and her Office to ensure every perpetrator faces justice.

The preservation and collection of evidence is vital. The UK, together with the United States and EU, has launched the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) to directly support the War Crimes Units of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPG) in its investigation and prosecution of conflict-related crimes. The ACA seeks to streamline coordination and communication efforts to ensure best practices, avoid duplication of efforts, and encourage the expeditious deployment of financial resources and skilled personnel to respond to the needs of the OPG as the legally constituted authority in Ukraine responsible for dealing with the prosecution of war crimes on its own territory. This shows the Government’s clear commitment to supporting Ukraine in its investigations.

The Metropolitan Police has also set up an online reporting tool for witnesses, including refugees, to submit evidence.

The UK also led the largest group referral made by States Parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC’s) Rome Statute to refer the atrocities in Ukraine to ICC. The ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan QC, has jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. We have offered the ICC a comprehensive package of financial and technical support to ensure that leaders under President Putin and those in the field can be held to account for any war crimes in Ukraine.

We will continue to work with Ukraine, partners and international mechanisms in their investigations and to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes in Ukraine. Those responsible will be held to account.

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