[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday announced [press release] that it has begun a preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Though Ukraine is not a member of the ICC, it has granted the court jurisdiction over crimes in its territory from November 21, 2013, to February 22, 2014, under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute [text]. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, as a matter of policy in accordance with the Rome Statute, opened a preliminary investigation [Reuters report] to determine whether a full investigation will be warranted. The case was referred to the court [JURIST report] by the new government of Ukraine, which claims that former president Viktor Yanukovich [official website] is responsible for for the killing of more than 100 protesters.
The ongoing conflict [BBC timeline] in Ukraine has reinvigorated fears of Cold War Era politics and increased tensions between Russia and the West. Last week the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] issued a report [JURIST report] finding rights violations leading up to and stemming from widespread protests that began last November. Also last week the UN Security Council [official website] convened [JURIST report] to address the ongoing violence. The UN General Assembly approved a resolution [JURIST report] in March declaring the Crimean referendum to secede from Ukraine invalid. The resolution calls upon all UN states, international organizations and specialty agencies not to recognize any change in status of the Crimean region despite the referendum [JURIST report]. The EU in February imposed [JURIST report] new sanctions against 11 senior Russian politicians, including Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. The EU imposed the sanctions on the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin finalized legislation making Crimea officially part of Russia.