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Allies demand international tribunal to hold Russia accountable for crimes in Ukraine

by Abbey Fenbert April 3, 2024 5:59 AM 2 min read
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba addresses an international conference dubbed "Restoring Justice for Ukraine" bringing together senior ministers and officials from Ukraine, The Netherlands, and European institutions, on April 2, 2024 in The Hague, the Netherlands. (Government of the Netherlands)
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Over 40 countries called for a special tribunal to hold Russia accountable for war crimes committed in Ukraine at the Restoring Justice for Ukraine conference held in the Netherlands on April 2.

The conference addressed point seven of President Volodymyr Zelensky's 10-point peace formula, "restoring justice." The Netherlands, host country to the International Criminal Court (ICC), has agreed to take the lead on this point of Ukraine's peace plan.

"We’re prepared to take all steps necessary to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. If necessary at international level," Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said in a press statement.

"And all steps necessary to ensure that the crime of aggression is addressed by a special tribunal; and that Russia pays for the damage it has inflicted."

The conference published a political declaration, signed by 44 countries, condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine and advocating for the establishment of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute Russian crimes.

The declaration also called on Russia to pay compensatory damages for crimes inflicted on Ukrainians, and supported exploring the use of frozen Russian assets to pay these damages.

The Netherlands extended conditional offers to host both the tribunal and a compensation mechanism, according to the document.  

Bruins Slot announced that the compensation mechanism, officially called the Register of Damage for Ukraine, allows Ukrainians to enter claims for damages to their property caused by Russia's invasion. She said the register is now operational and has already processed over 100 claims.

The conference was chaired by Bruins Slot along with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz, and European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders.

Ukrainian officials have documented thousands of war crimes committed by Russian forces, including deliberate attacks on civilians, attacks on cultural sites or medical institutions, torture, and deportations.

The Prosecutor General's Office reported on March 18 that Ukraine has collected pretrial information on over 128,000 victims of war crimes.

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