Tuesday, 16 August ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 16 August ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 16 August, 2022


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Countries File Declarations of Intervention to ICJ

On August 5, the UK filed a declaration of intervention to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case of Ukraine v. Russian Federation for the Allegations of Genocide. LatviaLithuania and New Zealand filed similar requests late last month.

On February 26, Ukraine initiated proceedings against Russia before the Hague-based ICJ, the UN’s principal judicial organ, concerning “a dispute... relating to the interpretation, application and fulfilment” of the 1948 convention on genocide.

On March 16, the court ruled that Russia must suspend military operations in the territory of Ukraine. Russian representatives did not attend.

Ukrainian politician and lawyer Anton Korynevych noted that the intervention was a procedure whereby other parties can enter the case to “emphasise the importance of the relevant proceedings and the fact that they support a certain side. Recently, 43 states and the European Union published a document supporting Ukraine's statement in this case and are considering the issue of interventions”.

German Police to Gather War Crimes Evidence

Police in Berlin called on Ukrainians living in Germany to approach local police stations with any information about war crimes committed in Ukraine in the wake of Russia’s invasion. The call posted on the federal website stressed that victims or eyewitnesses were particularly encouraged to contact the police and highlighted that war crimes can be prosecuted in Germany even if they were committed by foreigners outside of Germany”.

The call builds on the initiative of the Pilecki Institute, a Polish government institution. The institute opened a documentation centre in late April to collect data about war crimes unfolding in Ukraine. The Raphael Lemkin Centre for Documenting Russian Crimes in Ukraine is named after the Polish lawyer who studied law in Lviv in the 1920s and went on to coin the term genocide and initiate the convention against it. 

Ukraine Appeals for Help Prosecuting Specific Cases

On August 12, minister of defence Oleksiy Reznikov issued a call on Facebook appealing for international experts in military justice and war crimes to help bring Russian troops to account.

Emphasising the international law Russia violated in the “brutal mass killing of Ukrainian POWs,” in Olenivka, he stressed that the goal was to establish international groups to help on specific cases of Russian war crimes and also analyse the practical aspects of legal processes for offences with hybrid elements.

“A demonstration that punishment will be inevitable and without any statute of limitations must become an important component of combating war crimes,” he wrote. “First of all, this applies not to ordinary executors, but the persons who give orders, encourage or justify those crimes.”

Ukraine to Update Legislation on Collaboration

Ukraine’s Supreme Council of Justice called for legislation related to the judicial system during martial law to be updated, including specific provisions like the crime of collaboration, in particular among representatives of the judiciary. In a statement, the council said that currently “it is not possible to quickly and effectively counteract manifestations of collaboration among representatives of the judiciary”.

The legal concept in Ukrainian legislation of collaboration was first updated in March 2022, but lawmakers want more detail on how to handle cases involving members of the judiciary or police force. On August 8, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal registered a draft bill to amend Ukraine’s criminal code on responsibility for collaboration.

Treason Prosecutions on the Rise

Meanwhile, courts across Ukraine are processing increasing numbers of ordinary citizens  for collaboration. On August 10, a court in the southern port city of Odesa found a Russian citizen guilty of disseminating information about the location of Ukrainian army troops and weaponry. The man donated 100,000 US dollars to the Ukrainian state and in return received a reduced sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison.

On August 9, a district court in Dnipropetrovsk region sentenced a Ukrainian from Crimea to 12 years in prison after he shared information via Telegram about the location of Ukrainian forces and equipment in Lysychansk, in the Luhansk region.

The headman of a village in the north-eastern region of Sumy, which borders Russia, was fined by the Lebedyn district court on charges of collaborating with Russian troops after the village was occupied in March 2022.

On August 8 the Brovary district court in the Kyiv region found a resident of the village of Peremoga guilty of treason during martial law.

Some cases have ended in probationary periods rather than prison time. In Mykolaiv, a woman was sentenced to four years in jail for informing Russians about the location of Ukrainian troops and weaponry since 2021. The court considered mitigating arguments and suspended the jail sentence, releasing the woman for a two-year probationary period.

Three Separatist Volunteers get 15 Years in Prison

Three militants were found guilty of treason and sentenced to 15 years in prison with confiscation of property. All were members of the illegal “4th motorised rifle battalion of the 119th DNR regiment”.

After volunteering in early March, the men were sent for training in the Belgorod region of Russia and subsequently deployed to the Sumy region in northern the Ukraine.

They were captured by the Ukrainian forces in late March during the liberation of the Sumy region.

De Facto Court Hearing for Five Foreign Ukraine Volunteers 

On August 15 the illegal court in the pro-Russian DPR began hearing the cases of five foreign citizens who had fought with the Ukrainian forces, media reported.

The men are British citizens John Harding, Andrew Gill and Dylan Healy, alongside Matias Gustafsson from Sweden and Vekoslav Prebeg from Croatia. The court, according to media reports, seeks the death penalty against Gustafsson, Prebeg and Harding.

The general staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces has made clear that all foreign citizens participating in hostilities were voluntarily accepted for service under a contract in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.

As a result, they all have the legal status of combatants and thus all sides of the conflict should follow the international laws of war when dealing with them.

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