The International Criminal Court (ICC) has denounced a plan by the European Union to create a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.
According to Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, his court could effectively deal with war crimes and a new body shouldn’t be created.
Karim Khan pushed back against the plan European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced last week to establish a special court to prosecute Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In her announcement, von der Leyen said it was essential to get approval from the United Nations to avoid issues of immunity. Heads of state, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin, are generally considered immune from prosecution while they are in office.
Von der Leyen said the EU would work with international partners to get “the broadest international support possible” for the tribunal while continuing to support the ICC.
Khan has acknowledged that the ICC would be unable to prosecute Putin for the crime of aggression, but high-ranking figures could be tried for war crimes or genocide. “We should avoid fragmentation, and instead work on consolidation,” Khan said in an address to the Assembly of States Parties, the annual meeting of the ICC’s oversight body.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, his military forces have been accused of abuses ranging from killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha to deadly attacks on civilian facilities, including the March 16 bombing of a theater in Mariupol that an Associated Press investigation established likely killed close to 600 people.
The Hague-based ICC launched an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine but cannot prosecute the crime of aggression, the act of invading another country, because the Russian Federation is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the court.
“The EU has misstated the law,” Karim Khan told reporters on Monday, December 5.
“We should avoid fragmentation, and instead work on consolidation,” Khan said in an address to the Assembly of States Parties, the annual meeting of the ICC’s oversight body.