International Centre for Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine starts its activities in The Hague

Monday, 3 July 2023

On Monday, July 3rd, the International Center for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine began its operations in The Hague, based on the premises of the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust).

According to the press service of the European Commission, the newly established Centre will be key to investigate Russia's crime of aggression against Ukraine and facilitate case building for future trials. It will provide a structure to support and enhance ongoing and future investigations into the crime of aggression and contribute to the exchange and analysis of evidence gathered since the start of the Russian aggression.

The Centre, set up with the Commission's support, is composed of selected national prosecutors that are already participating in the Joint Investigation Team, to which the Centre is linked in its operations.

The participating experts will be able to work together daily, exchange evidence quickly, and agree on a common strategy.

Eurojust will provide operational, legal, financial, and logistical support, including for preserving, storing, and analysing evidence.

This work is essential to prepare for future trials, be it before national or international courts, including a possible tribunal for the crime of aggression or the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes within its jurisdiction.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is competent to prosecute the gravest international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes and the crime of aggression). However, at the moment, the ICC cannot prosecute Russia for the crime of aggression, since Russia is not a State party to the ICC.

To close this gap, in November 2022 the Commission presented options to the Member States to guarantee that there is full accountability for all crimes committed in Ukraine.

These options explored the possibility of establishing an accountability mechanism to allow the prosecution of the crime of aggression.

While discussions are ongoing, particularly within the Main Group for the establishment of a Special Tribunal, it is crucial to ensure proper protection of relevant evidence and the ability to initiate investigations in an expedited manner.

The agreement establishing the Center was signed in Lviv in March as part of the United for Justice conference.

Ukraine and its allies have developed three models for establishing and operating of a special tribunal for the crime of aggression by Russia.

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