News

Evil adapts really fast, we are not even short on their heels

29.12.2022

Closing remarks by Roman Avramenko, Executive Director of Truth Hounds, at the side event “Strengthening International Justice. Challenges and opportunities in the case of Ukraine”. 08 December 2022, The Hague

It is high time for justice to become flexible and adapt fast. Evil adapts really fast, we are not even short on their heels.

80 000 cases of conflict-related crimes have been opened by Ukrainian prosecutors since February 24, 2022. More than 30 000 were open during the previous period of Russian invasion. So it’s roughly 110 000 cases of war crimes waiting for it’s turn to be investigated. Victims await justice. Jails await the criminals.

And it’s only in Ukraine. War on our soil is the most intensive one but it is not the only conflict on the planet. 

I’m addressing now to the representatives of the state parties of the ICC. 43 (need to check) countries have sent their referrals to the ICC demanding opening the full investigation of the Ukrainian case. And we, Ukrainians are very grateful to you.

At the same time I want to ask – is it only the ICC among non-Ukrainian actors to deal with this? How many cases will the ICC take? Perhaps 20, maybe even 50. And what about the rest? How many perpetrators will enjoy impunity? How can we break the circle of evil when a high percentage of under investigated crimes leads to a bigger number of them.

We should create a system which will provide Rapid Justice Global Response to the mass of international crimes. And there is already a tool to make it happen – Universal Jurisdiction. I personally believe in it. All countries with a working system of justice I say should extensively use the UJ to prosecute war criminals all over the world.

Some of the states would adapt their legislation to overcome the limitations provided by the current procedures. Of course it’s always a matter of resources. But if all the state parties of the ICC would allocate the amount of their contributions to the ICC (and non-Rome Statute states will do the same), we would have much more accountability opportunities. Ukraine has also included the UJ to the bill that brings changes to the national criminal code. In future all countries can count on the capacity of Ukrainian prosecutors who now extensively built their ability to prosecute international crimes.

Of course this scheme would require the mechanism to share the evidence between jurisdictions. But in the digital era there are already existing digital data-bases that can be share-used for analyzing the evidence and building the cases.

Current Russian state is a global perpetrator. It involved directly in a hybrid way in many conflicts on the globe.

There is a Genocide network that has proved its capability. We would just need to make the network global.

The case of Ukraine as a victim and Russia as an aggressor and the global united response to this case can become a benchmark of how we all should react to any grave crimes including those that are being perpetrated in the long protracted conflicts.