The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor said Friday that a preliminary investigation has found that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed in Ukraine, justifying the opening of an investigation.
The preliminary investigation was opened in 2014 when the Ukraine lodged a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting the jurisdiction of the court over alleged crimes committed on its territory from November 2013 to February 2014.
The preliminary examination initially focussed on alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the Maidan protests in response to the failure of a planned association agreement between the EU and Ukraine that would have more closely integrated political and economic ties. However, then-president Viktor Yanukovych bowed to pressure from Moscow, and the agreement was not signed. When the protests turned to rioting in January 2014, Yanukovych signed a series of laws restricting the right to protest. Hundreds of thousands of civilians took to the streets in response, and violent conflict between protesters and the police ensued.
In September 2015 the Ukrainian Government lodged a second declaration pursuant to Art 12(3), accepting the exercise of jurisdiction by the court over alleged crimes committed in Ukraine since February 2014. The Prosecutor therefore decided to extend the temporal scope of the existing preliminary examination to include any alleged crimes committed from February 2014 onwards.
The prosecutor said that the next step will be to request authorisation from the judges of the Pre-Trial Chamber to open investigations. No timeframe was provided.