Karim A.A. Khan, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), released a statement Friday commenting on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and acknowledging the ICC’s jurisdiction over possible war crimes in Ukraine.
Khan affirmed that his office is closely monitoring the situation, adding that the ICC has jurisdiction over “any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine since 20 February 2014.” Ukraine’s parliament granted the ICC jurisdiction over such matters in 2015 when it passed a declaration addressing “crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by senior officials of the Russian Federation.”
The statement makes it clear that the ICC has power to prosecute anyone who commits, orders, or incites such crimes.
Moreover, Khan addressed questions over the applicability of the crime of aggression amendment to the Rome Statute, the multinational treaty that established the ICC, to the Russian invasion. The statement explains that the 2010 amendment is not applicable as “neither Ukraine nor the Russian Federation are State Parties to the Rome Statute.”
Khan’s statement comes as reports from the conflict suggest the possibility of Russian war crimes. Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, claims that Russian attacks have targeted a kindergarten and orphanage, vowing to send evidence of these attacks to the Hague.
On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced “a special military operation” in Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine has faced a multi-pronged attack from land, air, and sea as Russian forces push closer to Kyiv. The US and other western nations have already announced severe sanctions with more on the way.
Khan, currently on mission in Bangladesh, promised a more detailed statement upon his return to the Hague.