45 nations pledge to coordinate evidence of war crimes in Ukraine

Separately, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the Netherlands would also consider setting up a special international Ukraine war crimes tribunal, in part because neither Ukraine nor Russia are members of the ICC.

“We have to fill a vacuum and the ICC here doesn’t have the jurisdictions so I can imagine we do look into coming up with such a tribunal … We will take a look into this,” he said.

“IMPUNITY”

Russian forces have bombed Ukrainian cities to ruins and left behind bodies in the streets of towns and villages they occupied since invading in February. Ukraine says tens of thousands of civilians have died. Moscow denies responsibility.

There have also been some reports of Ukrainians mistreating Russian prisoners, though the vast majority of accusations documented by bodies such as the United Nations are of alleged atrocities committed by Russian invaders and their proxies.

“As this meeting takes place, Russian forces continue to commit atrocities in Ukraine with harrowing intensity,” said US envoy Uzra Zeya, who attended the meeting.

“With each day the war crimes mount: Rape, torture, extrajudicial executions, disappearances, forced deportations, attacks on schools, hospitals, playgrounds, apartment buildings, grain silos, water and gas facilities.”

The European Union’s justice commissioner, Didier Reynders, noted that war crimes and genocide suspects were still at large from conflicts dating back decades in places such as Rwanda, Darfur, Syria, Congo and the Balkans.

“Impunity is a massive problem,” Hoekstra told a news conference, referring to war crimes in Ukraine and around the world.

ICC chief Prosecutor Karim Khan said there were reasons for hope because more than 40 states were now seeking action on Ukraine through the court. The ICC has sent the largest field team in its 20-year history to investigate in Ukraine.

“At a time like this, the law cannot be a spectator. The law cannot recline in comfort in The Hague,” he said.

Russia withdrew its backing from the ICC in 2016 after the court referred to Moscow’s 2014 seizure and annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine as an armed conflict.

Since the Feb 24 invasion, Ukrainian authorities have convicted two Russian soldiers of war crimes.

Russia’s separatist proxies have held their own trials, including passing death sentences on two British fighters and a Moroccan in what Western countries consider sham proceedings.