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ICC prosecutor Karim Khan: 'In Ukraine, we must seek the facts and establish the truth'

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan: 'In Ukraine, we must seek the facts and establish the truth'
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Sunday, 15 May, 2022, 22:30

On March 2, Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), opened an investigation into the crimes committed in Ukraine. One year after taking office Mr. Khan looks back at his strategy in the 16 countries where investigations are underway.

How does the ICC investigation work togeter with the Ukrainian judicial investigation?
Next week, 42 investigators will be sent to Ukraine. This is the largest deployment ever undertaken by my office. Thirty of them have been sent on temporary assignment by the Dutch government, including forensic scientists and analysts.

First and foremost, we need to find the facts and establish the truth. I don't care whether justice is done by the ICC or by the national authorities. What matters is that the investigations are credible, honest and independent, and that a judge can then decide. And I am very happy to work with the Ukrainian authorities. We also have a cooperation agreement with the Joint Investigation Team [established under Eurojust, on March 25] set up by Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine. We will be able to access the pooled documents. On our side, we are not going to share all our documents, because we have the obligation to look at the acts of all parties to the conflict, whether it is the regular forces, on both sides, or the irregular armies.

Since the beginning of the conflict on February 24, 42 states – including the countries of the European Union – have expressed political, but also financial and human support. How do you view this support?
I think this moment will be remembered as the moment when international law is not seen as an inconvenience, but as a protection for a society and its values, as well as for peace and security. This kind of partnership shows that it is possible to change the dynamics of judicial cooperation – not only in Ukraine, but everywhere else. National judiciaries have significant capabilities and can enable cheaper and more efficient proceedings. Instead of The Hague being the basis for international criminal justice, we can create a common front of national investigators and prosecutors, national courts, and the ICC, while preserving the independence of each of these institutions. This is a change from the approach of picking and choosing from the law what you think is right and rejecting the rest. States must understand that the law applies to everyone, including themselves, even when it is uncomfortable. Otherwise, the price to pay can be catastrophic.