International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday expressed concern about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said his court could investigate possible war crimes in the country.
“I have been closely following recent developments in Ukraine and beyond with growing concern,” Khan said in a statement.
“I warn all those who commit acts of hostility on the territory of Ukraine that my office can exercise its jurisdiction and investigate any acts of genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes committed within Ukraine.”
Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and subsequent fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces, Ukraine accepted ICC jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on its territory since February 2014.
In December 2020, the ICC prosecutor’s office announced it had reason to believe that war crimes and other crimes were committed during the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Preliminary hearings are closed, but a formal request to the judge to open a full investigation has not been made. The judges must agree before an investigation can begin.
In December last year, Khan said there had been no update on the case when asked about progress in the investigation.
Russia is not a member of the ICC and is against the ICC case. However, the court can investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Ukrainian territory regardless of the nationality of the alleged perpetrator. [uh/ab]