Red Cross: “Ukraine is Officially in a War”

Ukraine ConflictAccording to Western diplomats and officials, the Red Cross has made a confidential legal assessment that Ukraine is officially in a war. Such statement would open the door to possible war crimes prosecutions, including over the downing of Malaysia Airlines MH-17.

“Clearly it’s an international conflict and therefore this is most probably a war crime,” one Western diplomat said in Geneva.

The Red Cross has not made any public statement – seeking not to offend either Ukraine or Russia by calling it a civil war or a case of foreign aggression – but it has done so privately and informed the parties to the conflict.

“The qualification has been shared bilaterally and confidentially. We do not discuss it publicly”, said Anastasia Isyuk, the Red Cross spokeswoman.

The designation as a war – either international or civil – changes the situation as it turns both sides into combatants with equal liability for war crimes, which have no statute of limitations and cannot be absolved by an amnesty. Continue reading

Ukraine Accepts ICC jurisdiction over Alleged Crimes Committed between November 2013 and February 2014

UkraineToday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) received a declaration lodged by Ukraine accepting the ICC’s jurisdiction with respect to alleged crimes committed in its territory from 21 November 2013 to 22 February 2014. The declaration was lodged under article 12(3) of the Rome Statute which enables a State not party to the Statute to accept the exercise of jurisdiction of the Court.

The acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction does not automatically trigger an investigation. It is for the ICC Prosecutor to decide whether or not to request the judges’ authorisation to open an investigation, if the Prosecutor considers that the information available to her establishes the existence of a reasonable basis to open an investigation.

If an investigation is opened, it will also be for the ICC Prosecutor to decide, on the basis of the evidence collected, whether to ask the ICC judges to issue arrest warrants or summonses to appear for persons charged with the commission of crimes falling under the ICC’s jurisdiction.