The European Commission considers that the International Criminal Court of The Hague is not competent to judge the Russian leaders for crime of aggression against Ukraine.
by Philippe Jacqué (Brussels, European Bureau) and Stéphanie Maupas (La Haye, Correspondence)
Should we create a special court to judge the crime of aggression committed by Russian leaders in Ukraine? Since February 24 and the start of the Russian invasion, the debate has been launched between capitals and among lawyers. Wednesday, November 30, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, officially stopped the position of the Brussels executive. She proposed the creation of such a court.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) would continue to investigate and pursue the authors of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on Ukrainian territory, as it has been doing since March 2, kyiv request. She could even launch, by the end of the year, her first arrest warrants in the country partly occupied.
“While continuing to support the International Criminal Court, we propose to set up a special court supported by the United Nations to investigate and prosecute the crimes of aggression of Russia” against Ukraine, said , Wednesday, on Twitter, M me von der Leyen. Reacting to the horror of Boutcha crimes in early April, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had claimed the creation of such a court in parallel with a repairs mechanism. In Ukraine, Andrii Yermak, his chief of staff, also praised the decision on Telegram on Wednesday. “Russia will pay for its crimes and destruction is inevitable,” he said. For several months, the Ukranians have been carrying out an intense campaign to convince governments.
“The question of personal immunities”
In a long -awaited legal study in kyiv and addressed to member states on Wednesday, the lawyers of the commission recall that the ICC cannot judge Russian leaders for the crime of aggression. More than ten years ago, States drastically limited the powers of this court on this crime in particular, by imposing many conditions so that its prosecutor can seize it. In its opinion, the Commission also underlines “the highly political nature” of the crime of aggression, which criminalizes the use of force. London, Paris and Washington, who believe that certain wars would be “correct”, are also opposed to this special court project for fear of creating a precedent.
According to the advice of the Commission, the ICC could not continue Vladimir Putin more for war crimes or against humanity that it is investigating. Because Moscow did not join the Court, the Russian Head of State and some of his ministers remain covered by their immunity. But among the lawyers, the question is debated. Some believe on the contrary that since the crimes are committed on the territory of a State, Ukraine, which seized this court, then the immunity of the officials would be lifted.
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