The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor Karim Khan on Wednesday said that he will “immediately proceed” with an investigation into alleged war crimes in Ukraine.
Khan’s office has received petitions from 39 countries to begin an investigation into the matter. The countries include all member nations of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada.
“These referrals enable my office to proceed with opening an investigation into the situation in Ukraine from 21 November, 2013 onwards, thereby encompassing within its scope any past and present allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide committed on any part of the territory of Ukraine by any person,” Khan said in a statement on Wednesday.
On November 21, 2013 the “Maidan” protests had erupted in Ukraine. The protestors at the time had objected to the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend an agreement with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.
At least 130 people died in the anti-government protests.
On Thursday, Khan said that he would speak to all stakeholders to the conflict to ensure that the investigation is objective and independent.
“Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced,” he said.
He said that those engaged in hostilities in Ukraine should adhere to the principles of international humanitarian law.
“No individual in the Ukraine situation has a licence to commit crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court,” he said.
Khan added that the support of the State Parties to the Rome Statute – which established the court – will be essential as the court seeks to meet the inherent challenges faced in the conduct of these investigations.
“I will therefore seek the partnership and contributions of all states in order to address our need for additional resources across all situations addressed by my ffoice,” he said.
On Monday, Khan had said that his “preliminary examination” of the situation in Ukraine “had already found a reasonable basis to believe crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court had been committed, and had identified potential cases that would be admissible”.
The International Criminal Court is an intergovernmental organisation in the Dutch ciy of The Hague, which investigates “genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression” that are of concern to the international community.