War Crimes

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Prosecuting war crimes: are Ukrainian courts fit to do it?

 Only three months after Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukrainian courts delivered the first convictions for war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine since February 2022. In May, a Russian soldier was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing a civilian in Sumy Region. The conviction of two more soldiers of indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas in Kharkiv Region followed. In June, the preliminary hearings in a case related to charges of murder and rape took place. Most recently, a Russian soldier was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for pillaging. As of 4 August 2022, about 25 000 war crimes are pending investigation. The first war crime trials in Ukraine, closely scrutinised by the international community, prompted a discussion around the capacity of the Ukrainian courts to prosecute war crimes, their ability to do so in compliance with fair trial guarantees and the appropriateness of doing so while the war is ongoing. For instance, Kai Ambos writes about the…

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Ukrainian Prosecution of ICC Statute Crimes: Fair, Independent and Impartial?

In view of the widespread euphoria about Ukraine’s admirable defensive struggle against the Russian war of aggression, it is easy to forget that until a few months ago Ukraine was still considered a problematic case in terms of the rule of law. Not only was the fight against corruption promised by President Zelenskyy considered insufficient, but classic deficits…

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Sexual and Gender-Based Violence against Women in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

In April 2022, it was reported that Ukrainian law enforcement intercepted a phone call between a Russian soldier and his wife. In the phone call, they joked about the soldier raping Ukrainian women. His wife told him, “Yes, I allow it. Just wear protection”. The shockingly cavalier attitude of these two young Russian people towards rape emanates…

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Is the Dispute between Germany and Italy over State Immunities Coming to an End (Despite Being Back at the ICJ)?

For nearly two decades Germany and Italy have been embroiled in a dispute over the scope of State immunities under international law. The dispute which relates to the question of compensation for victims of crimes committed by Nazi forces in Italy or against Italian citizens, has recently been resubmitted by Germany to the International Court of Justice…

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Violations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022: Summary of the Report by a Mission of Experts under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism

On 13 April 2022, we presented the report of our mission on Ukraine to a special session of the Permanent Council of OSCE. Based on this presentation, the following contribution summarizes the establishment and mandate, methodology and findings of our 94 pages Report. Establishment and mandate On 3 March 2022, Ukraine,…

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