How are war crimes defined, investigated and punished?

International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan has announced that it will begin an investigation into allegations of war crimes “as soon as possible” just four days after Russia waged war in Ukraine.

“I am satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that both the war crimes charges and the crimes against humanity were committed in Ukraine,” he said. in the statement on the decision.

US President Joe Biden later branded Russian President Vladimir Putin a “war criminal” and provoked outrage at the Kremlin, but this accusation was substantiated by reports of 20 civilians killed in the street and some at the hands of a secondary vehicle. seems to be Just as satellite imagery has revealed the existence of mass graves, it bridges boundaries.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not hesitate to define murder as genocide.

Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations, Yebeniya Filipenko, has claimed that Putin’s invading forces “targeted kindergartens, orphanages, hospitals and mobile medical aid brigades.” May lead to acts that constitute war crimes. By violating the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

These four treaties and three protocols were signed by 196 countries in 1949, after World War II, to define the fundamental rights of prisoners of war (both civilians and military) and to take humanitarian action in warfare to ensure protection for prisoners of war. established international legal standards for wounded and non-combatants.

Filipenko’s accusations came after Amnesty International accused Russia of using cluster bombs in an attack on a kindergarten in Okhtyrka, Sumy province. The NGO said the school was fired from a 220mm Uragan rocket, killing three people and “could be a war crime”.

Although more than 100 countries, including the UK, have pledged not to use these weapons under the Convention on Cluster Bombs, neither Russia nor Ukraine is a party to the agreement.

Investigative website Bellingcat has since reported “several instances” of indiscriminate use of cluster bombs in Ukraine, causing damage to civilians.

“There is a risk that the use of cluster munitions will increase even more as combat begins to spread further into urban areas,” he warned.

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had warned that Russia would use “the most unsavory means” to conquer Ukraine. Despite the brave resistance of the Ukrainian people, it was expected that this would not be realized.

That warning appears to be fully substantiated by subsequent events.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine


There are concerns that Russia could ultimately return to using strategic nuclear weapons after Putin put his military on a ‘high alert’ state in response to international economic sanctions and what he claimed was an aggressive NATO investigation.

ICC is located in The Hague, Netherlands. describe yourself It “examines and, where warranted, brings to justice individuals charged with the most serious crimes of the international community, such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

“Courts are participating in the global fight to end impunity, and through international criminal justice, courts aim to hold those responsible for crimes accountable and help prevent these crimes from happening again.”

that define war crimes “Severe violations of the Geneva Conventions in the context of armed conflict, including, for example, the use of child soldiers; the killing or torture of civilians or persons such as prisoners of war; hospitals, historical monuments dedicated to religious, educational, artistic, scientific or charitable purposes. or intentionally attacking a building.”

Article 8 of the Rome Statute of 1989, the founding treaty of the ICC, lists 11 war crimes that are considered “serious violations” of the Convention in interstate conflicts.

  1. intentional murder
  2. torture
  3. inhuman treatment
  4. biological experiment
  5. deliberately cause great suffering
  6. destruction and possession of property
  7. Strong service to hostile forces
  8. Denial of fair trial
  9. Illegal deportation and transfer
  10. illegal confinement
  11. take hostage

The Office of the ICC Prosecutor is responsible for conducting investigations and prosecutions of allegations of war crimes if, on the basis of the information received, the situation has been brought to court by a State Party, the United Nations Security Council or its own instigation. from other sources, such as individuals or non-governmental organizations.

A British lawyer, Mr Khan has been in his office since 16 June 2021 and previously led the United Nations Special Investigation Group investigating crimes perpetrated by Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Iraq.

“I have already commissioned our team to explore all evidence preservation opportunities,” he said in a statement. He continued, “From now on, we will seek the start of an investigation from the pre-trial panel of the court and follow the procedure for obtaining permission.”

Khan explained that he plans to appeal to all ICC Parties for assistance for additional budgets, voluntary donations and manpower loans, adding: method.”

If, as a result of an investigation of the facts at the scene, a charge has been made against a person, the accused will be tried in The Hague, presumed innocent until proven guilty in The Hague beyond a reasonable doubt, and a 3-judge panel will decide the case You must provide a complete and reasonable statement that presides over and explains the final verdict.

Trials can be held publicly or privately, depending on the scenario that is most favorable to the witnessing testifying.

Relative military power between Ukraine and Russia

(Statista/The Independent)

A person convicted of a war crime is likely to face a long sentence, usually up to 30 years or life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the crime. The courts have no power to impose the death penalty.

Only 123 countries that have agreed to and signed the Rome Statute are expected to follow the court’s authority.

Neither Ukraine nor Russia is a member of its member states, but the former has said twice that it accepts the jurisdiction of the courts, allowing Khan to investigate crimes that occurred on their territory during the current dispute.

The ICC previously conducted a preliminary investigation into crimes related to the violent suppression of pro-European protests in Kyiv by the then pro-Russian Ukrainian government between 2013 and 2014, as well as the annexation of Crimea to which Russia belongs, and criminal charges in eastern Ukraine. I have supported the separatist rebels for the past eight years.

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