Estonia among 41 states investigating war crimes in Ukraine

  • 2022-03-25
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The justice ministers of the countries supporting the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russia in Ukraine met in The Hague, the city housing the International Criminal Court (ICC), to discuss the issues necessary for conducting the inquiry. 

Estonia was represented by Minister of Justice Maris Lauri who also met with Ladislav Hamran, president of Eurojust (European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation).

"The extent to which Russia is violating human rights in the course of its aggression in Ukraine is unforgivable and Russia bears the full responsibility for it. It is very important for Estonia that Russia's terrible crimes in Ukraine should be brought before an independent court and it is our resolute will to provide our support to the International Criminal Court in this inquiry, both politically and practically. The prosecutor's office has launched proceedings for the collection of evidence and Estonia has proposed possible experts for the court who could start work in the ICC's Ukraine inquiry team;" Lauri said.

The ICC launched on March 3 an inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in Ukraine. The application seeking for the inquiry to be launched was made by 39 states, including Estonia. To date, altogether 41 states, including all EU member states, have joined the application.

The French presidency of the EU, together with all the other member states, has promised to give its full support to the ICC's inquiry and called for contributions, both financially and in terms of human resources. 

Inquiry is being coordinated from the EU side by Eurojust, the president of which, Ladislav Hamran, had a separate meeting with the Estonian minister of justice.

"Eurojust has the resources for cooperation both within the European Union as well as with third states. Thus, we also underlined at the meeting how important their coordinating role is in this inquiry," Lauri said.

Crimes of war, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity do not expire and are investigated on the same basis everywhere under international law. The courts of Estonia and several other countries have jurisdiction to handle such cases, regardless of where and against whom they are committed. 

War crimes committed by incumbent leaders should be brought before the International Criminal Court.