EU official details possible structure of tribunal for Putin

23 April, 06:05 PM
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (Photo:Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS)

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin (Photo:Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via REUTERS)

A senior EU official has outlined the likely format of a tribunal to prosecute Russian war criminals, with European Union countries and G7 said to be leaning towards a “hybrid tribunal,” German broadcaster DW reported on April 21.

The official suggested that the tribunal would combine Ukraine's jurisdiction with a process based on international law, and that this format is seen as the most realistic prospect for holding the Russian leadership accountable for their aggression against Ukraine.

The European Commission proposed the creation of a special court for Russian war criminals in late 2022, with two options under consideration: a special independent international tribunal based on a multilateral agreement, or a “hybrid court” combining the national jurisdiction of a specific country, such as Ukraine, with a process based on international law and judges from different countries.

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Ukraine, along with 14 other EU countries, is leading an investigation into international crimes committed by Russia.

The European Commission has emphasized that powerful support from the United Nations is necessary for both possible options. This is due to the fact that the highest political and military leadership of the country is responsible for crimes of aggression, and they have international immunity. A UN Security Council resolution would be required to remove this immunity, but Russia could veto it.

If that does happen, then the resolution must be considered and approved by the UN General Assembly. Based on its decision, the prosecutor of the special court can issue a verdict on depriving Russia’s leadership of immunity.

The official highlighted that a very solid case must be presented by the prosecution and emphasized the importance of opening the International Center for Investigating Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine in The Hague.

According to Sweden, which currently heads the EU Council, this center should start operating at the end of June.

Crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, and crimes of aggression fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, Russia does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, unlike EU countries. This means that it does not have a mandate to strip the international immunity of Russia's top leadership, and they cannot appear before the ICC, even in absentia.

Despite this, on March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin for suspicion of committing war crimes related to the forcible removal of Ukrainian children to Russia. Putin can now be arrested in 123 countries worldwide that have ratified the Rome Statute.

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