Evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine submitted to German prosecutors

The Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ) presented German federal prosecutors with dossiers of evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine at the start of a campaign to use the principle of universal jurisdiction to bring war criminals to justice, The Guardian reports.

“The cases were filed on Thursday [26 October] morning by the Clooney Foundation for Justice (CFJ), representing 16 survivors and the families of victims in three separate war crimes cases: an indiscriminate missile attack on a coastal resort near Odesa that killed 22 people; the execution of four men in occupied territory in the Kharkiv region in spring and summer last year; and a series of executions and acts of torture and sexual violence committed outside Kyiv in March 2022,” The Guardian wrote.

Germany’s legal system has been a leader in prosecuting war crimes under universal jurisdiction, a principle allowing for the prosecution of severe abuses regardless of where they occurred.

“It is now the time to see words turn into real action,” says Anya Neistat, legal director of the Docket, a CFJ initiative.

The evidence is also shared with the International Criminal Court (ICC), currently investigating war crimes, having already issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin. However, the ICC’s capacity to pursue cases is limited to seeking accountability at the highest level, necessitating support from national jurisdictions.

Ukrainian prosecutors diligently collect evidence for numerous crimes, though their legal framework allows prosecutions of only “the immediate perpetrators of crimes, not those higher up the chain of command, without proof of specific orders to commit the crimes, although it does recognise the principle of command responsibility.” The Docket initiative seeks to bridge the gap between the ICC and Ukrainian courts, targeting both senior and mid-level military officers.

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