18 May 2022 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Finland and Sweden submit formal applications to join NATO
France 24, 18 May 2022

 Finland and Sweden have submitted formal applications to join the NATO military alliance after weeks of anticipation. Also on Wednesday, a Ukrainian tribunal is set to begin its first war crimes trial. A Russian soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, accused of killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian will appear in Kyiv on charges of war crimes and premeditated murder. 

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ICC sends 42-member team to probe alleged war crimes in Ukraine
Al Jazeera, 17 May 2022

 The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sent its “largest-ever” team of experts to Ukraine to investigate alleged war crimes since the Russian invasion in February, according to the chief prosecutor of the Hague-based court. Karim Khan said on Tuesday that the 42-member team comprised of investigators, forensic experts and support staff “advance our investigations into crimes falling into the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and provide support to Ukrainian national authorities”. The team will improve the gathering of witness testimony, the identification of forensic materials and help ensure that “evidence is collected in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings” at the court, he said.

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U.S. launches program to capture, analyze evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine
Reuters, 17 May 2022

 The U.S. State Department on Tuesday announced the launch of a new program to capture and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities allegedly perpetrated by Russia in Ukraine, as Washington seeks to ensure Moscow is held accountable for its actions.The State Department in a statement said the so-called Conflict Observatory will encompass documentation, verification and dissemination of open-source evidence of Russia's actions in Ukraine. Reports and analyses will be made available through the Conflict Observatory's website.





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Palestine: Salah Hammouri urges International Criminal Court to investigate Israel’s crimes in Jerusalem
FIDH, 16 May 2022

 A recently reimprisoned Palestinian lawyer and activist is urging the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bring urgency to its investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Israeli officials, particularly the forcible transfer and expulsion of Palestinians from East Jerusalem. In a new submission to the ICC, Salah Hammouri recounts years of harassment and abuse by the Israeli government for his activism, detailing new tactics that include the stripping of his residency from East Jerusalem, forced separation from his wife and children, and now imprisonment with the threat of deportation.

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Ukraine: ordinary Russian soldiers face war crimes charges but the big fish are likely to avoid punishment – here’s why
The Conversation, 12 May 2022

Ukraine’s chief prosecutor has announced plans to hold the first war crime trials over Russia’s invasion. Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said more than 10,700 war crimes had been lodged by investigators and 600 suspects had been identified. Venediktova said a 21-year-old Russian sergeant had been charged with the murder of an elderly civilian in the village of Chupakhivka in the north-east of the country. Two other low-ranking Russian soldiers are also expected to be charged for deliberately targeting civilian buildings and a fourth, who is believed to have committed rape and murder, has been identified but remains at large.

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Co-ordination between International Criminal Court's Prosecutor and Council of Europe Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law to assist the Prosecutor General of Ukraine
Council of Europe, 11 May 2022

 On 10 May, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan QC, met in The Hague with the Council of Europe's Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, Christos Giakoumopoulos, to discuss co-ordination of assistance to the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova. The Director General informed the Prosecutor about the Council of Europe's co-operation projects aimed at strengthening the capacity of law enforcement authorities to effectively investigate and prosecute gross human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights.Issues of assistance to victims of violations were also discussed at the meeting. The need to continue regular exchanges in order to ensure complementarity and avoid unnecessary duplication of efforts was stressed.

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