International Criminal Court: Prosecutor Karim Khan visits Western Ukraine and Poland as part of ongoing investigations
Grace ATALUI MOKANGO
International Justice and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
To personally evaluate the situation on the ground, on Wednesday, 16 March 2022, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan visited Western Ukraine and Poland as part of his investigations into the situation in Ukraine. He met with Dmytro Kuleba, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Iryna Venediktova, Prosecutor General of Ukraine, whom he thanked for agreeing to meet with him despite the problematic context in Ukraine.
Karim Khan also had the opportunity to meet and talk virtually with Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine. As a result of this interview, Prosecutor Karim Khan stated that “We were united in our view that every possible effort should be made to ensure that the conduct of hostilities does not give rise to breaches of international humanitarian law and that civilians are protected from the effects of conflict. I emphasised my willingness to expand collaboration with all relevant national authorities in order that we can together ensure that alleged violations of international law are thoroughly investigated ”. The Prosecutor also had the opportunity to visit the Medyka refugee centre in Poland to meet with people who had fled the hostilities. This visit reinforced his concern about the impact of the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine on the civilian population, including women and children.
Finally, he sent a clear message to those involved in the hostilities. He emphasised that any person directly participating in hostilities must comply with international humanitarian law or face criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute. Under the Rome Statute, attacks intentionally directed against the civilian population and/or civilian objects, including hospitals, can trigger international criminal proceedings. Active evidence gathering continues, and the Prosecutor believes that this visit will strengthen the work of the investigators.
Source and further reading
International Criminal Court, Statement of ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, on his visits to Ukraine and Poland: “Engagement with all actors critical for effective, independent investigations.”, (16 March 2022), from: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=20220316-prosecutor-statement-visit-ukraine-poland