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Ukraine parliament votes to send ousted president before ICC

The Ukrainian parliamentary body Verkhovna Rada [official website] voted on Tuesday to adopt a resolution [text] referring the now-fugitive former president Viktor Yanukovich and other high-ranking state officials to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website]. The report accused state officials of ordering law enforcement officers to use improper suppression measures, including improper use of physical force, illegal detention, torture of prisoners, use of water cannons in near-freezing temperatures and other extreme measures. The resolution further alleged the use of "organized criminal groups" to attack, kidnap, torture, kill, and destroy the property of individuals based solely on their political beliefs, calling the actions "unprecedented." However Ukraine is not a signatory to the ICC's empowering treaty, and so the court has no automatic jurisdiction there unless the government formally invites [Reuters report] their involvement. Then prosecutors for the court will determine whether to proceed with an investigation. Once an investigation is begun Ukraine will have no say over who is investigated or prosecuted.

Yanukovich was last seen in the Crimean peninsula after state officials on Monday issued [JURIST report] a warrant for his arrest, implicating him in the "mass murder" of civilians during the recent protests. The Ukrainian parliament voted [JURIST report] on Saturday to remove him from power, after his repeated refusals to resign in response to the escalating violence. There has been substantial international concern over the mounting crisis in the country, on February 19 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights made a statement urging [JURIST report] both sides of the conflict to reach a peaceful resolution and end the violence. This followed a January 31st statement by the office that called [JURIST report] for an investigation of allegations of torture against protesters. A day earlier the Verkhovna Rada passed a resolution granting [JURIST report] conditional amnesty to many protesters, a move that failed to conciliate the opposition groups.

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