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War in Ukraine: Can Russian leaders be put on trial for the crime of 'aggression'?

Story by Euronews

Jun 13, 2023

Ukraine-Russia war

The European Union and the United States want to hold Russian leaders legally accountable for the international crime of "aggression" in Ukraine, but prosecution is proving difficult.

Wayne Jordash, a human rights lawyer based in the Ukraine capital Kyiv told Euronews the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction over the Ukraine-Russia situation. 

"Russia is not a signatory to the court," he said.

"Ukraine has filed declarations but is not a signatory to the Rome Statute. So that means the International Criminal Court does not have jurisdiction to try aggression. That's the principal problem."

Away from The Hague, the EU Commission is considering two options for prosecuting the crime of aggression: an international and independent ad-hoc tribunal or a hybrid special court based on the Ukrainian judicial system but staffed by international judges.

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"You have a political difficulty which is getting enough states within the General Assembly [of the UN] at this point to agree on such a tribunal, on such an agreement," Jordash said. 

"So it's a political problem and there are some struggles ahead. On the other hand, a tribunal, which is more of a domestic tribunal, say a hybrid tribunal based on Ukrainian law has more practical difficulties.

The Ukrainian constitution doesn't allow these types of complementary tribunals, Jordash added.

"It allows international courts, but it doesn't allow extraordinary tribunals which are complementary to the system."

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