Draft Legislation for a High War Crimes Court of Ukraine
Friday, July 22nd, 2022 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Media and members of the public are invited to attend a Zoom presentation from noon-1 p.m. ET (7:00 PM Kyiv time) on Friday, July 22, of draft legislation for a High War Crimes Court of Ukraine to investigate and prosecute those allegedly responsible for atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine since November 2013.
The draft legislation is the initiative of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), an NGO co-founded by Case Western Reserve University School of Law Dean Michael Scharf and American University Professor Paul Williams. Under Dean Scharf’s leadership, PILPG has been working on the draft with legal experts from across the world, including in Ukraine.
On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This invasion has thus far led to thousands of civilian deaths and massive destruction of Ukrainian cities. The Russian military and Russian-supported insurgents have been committing numerous atrocity crimes, for which there is an urgent need to initiate widespread prosecutions. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened an investigation and will likely prosecute a handful of high-level perpetrators of atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine. Since the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the crime of aggression with respect to Ukraine, there are proposals to establish a hybrid international or regional tribunal to prosecute high-level Russians for the crime of aggression currently under discussion. But because these international mechanisms are designed to prosecute a small number of individuals, there is recognition that most of the perpetrators will need to be prosecuted by domestic courts in Ukraine. Yet, history has shown that without international assistance and involvement it is inherently difficult to fairly and effectively prosecute foreign nationals and insurgents in ordinary domestic courts during and in the aftermath of an armed conflict.
To address this gap and facilitate fair and effective accountability for the atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine, PILPG, together with Weil Gotshal & Manges and jurists and legal experts from Ukraine, prepared draft legislation for a High War Crimes Court for Ukraine to prosecute atrocity crimes. The legislation is modeled after the High Anti-Corruption Court for Ukraine that was established in 2019 and best practices of internationalized domestic war crimes courts around the globe.
The main features of the draft legislation include (1) jurisdiction over atrocity crimes and the crime of aggression in Ukraine since November 2013, (2) appointment of international advisers to the judges, prosecutors, and defense; (3) presence of international trial observers, (4) special measures to protect trial participants, and (5) international funding. The draft legislation has been revised during a series of Zoom workshops with international and Ukrainian experts.
This event will be the first public presentation of the draft legislation. During the session, the international and Ukrainian experts and drafters of the legislation including Dean Michael Scharf, Stephen Rapp (former U.S. Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice), and Tetyana Antsupova (Judge of the Ukraine Supreme Court) will discuss the need to establish such a court and provide an overview of the essential provisions of the legislation. This event will be moderated by PILPG President Paul Williams.