Feb 28, 2022 - World

International Criminal Court to open probe into possible war crimes in Ukraine

Photo of Vladimir Putin looking to his left

Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Matthew Stockman via Getty Images

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will open an investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine, ICC prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan said Monday.

Driving the news: Khan said in a statement that "there is a reasonable basis" to believe that both have been committed as Russia's invasion unfolds. The ICC is the only permanent judicial body with jurisdiction over prosecuting people for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

What he's saying: "I have reviewed the office's conclusions arising from the preliminary examination of the Situation in Ukraine, and have confirmed that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with opening an investigation," Khan said.

  • "Given the expansion of the conflict in recent days, it is my intention that this investigation will also encompass any new alleged crimes falling within the jurisdiction of my Office that are committed by any party to the conflict on any part of the territory of Ukraine."

Khan said he has already directed his team to "explore all preservation opportunities." They will have to obtain authorization from the ICC's Pre-Trial Chamber to open the probe into Ukraine, which is not an ICC state party, "as rapidly as possible."

  • If an ICC state party refers the situation to Khan's office, it would be able to "actively and immediately proceed" with independent investigations, he noted.
  • Khan said he will ask for the international community's support as the investigation plays out, including additional funding, voluntary contributions and loans of personnel.
  • "The importance and urgency of our mission is too serious to be held hostage to lack of means," Khan said. "I will continue to closely follow developments on the ground in Ukraine, and again call for restraint and strict adherence to the applicable rules of international humanitarian law."

Go deeper: Ukraine-Russia crisis dashboard

Editor's note: This post has been updated with additional details throughout.

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