GUIDEBOOK ON COLLECTION OF EVIDENCE FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT WAS PRESENTED AT MTOT
The guidebook has been produced for non-governmental organizations, activists and volunteers - all those who are not professional investigators and do not have special knowledge in collecting evidence of human rights violations and abuses and international humanitarian law violations, who are interested in mastering the basic skills to provide possible assistance to the International Criminal Court (hereinafter referred to as «ICC») and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine.
This guidebook is helpful because:
✔it provides the most relevant and objective information on the specifics of the work of the ICC and its particular organs;
✔ it gives practical recommendations to non-governmental organizations, activists, volunteers regarding the methodology of collecting, processing, storing information and its subsequent transmission to the IСС and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine;
✔it proposes an algorithm that can be used in practical activities of organizations during their collection of information;
✔it clarifies the need to ensure the security of both those who collect information on international crimes and those who provide it.
The International Criminal Court is the first permanent, independent from the UN, international organization, authorized to prosecute individuals guilty of international crimes. The Court acts in accordance with its constituent document - an international treaty, known as the Rome Statute, adopted on July 17, 1998*.
Now there are 122 states - Parties that ratified or acceded to the Statute. The ICC considers cases of terrible international crimes, such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Systematic violation of the norms and laws of warfare by the Russian Federation forces Ukrainian society to respond immediately to war crimes and crimes against humanity through an international legal institution - the International Criminal Court, which is intended to resolve the addressed issues.
Therefore, Ukraine has submitted special Statements to the Court about events during the Euromaidan and the situation of armed conflict in Ukraine. On September 8, 2015, Ukraine submitted a Statement to the ICC with respect to all crimes within the Court's jurisdiction (primarily crimes against humanity and war crimes) committed in Ukraine since the outbreak of military aggression of the Russian Federation against our state**.
The independent body of the ICC is the Office of the Prosecutor. The Prosecutor conducts a preliminary investigation and is the only one who can forward the case to the Court.
In order to facilitate the work of the Office of the Prosecutor in collecting and documenting possible crimes, the Rome Statute provides the right to any individual or legal entity to transfer any information that, in their opinion, contains facts about defined crimes to the Office of the Prosecutor.
Nowadays a lot of non-governmental organizations address the ICC with a request to clarify how to collect, document and transmit information about committed crimes. Therefore, the main purpose of the Guidebook is to provide basic knowledge and practical recommendations for collecting information - the direct recording of committed violations and the assistance of the ICC Officeof the Prosecutor in a preliminary investigation of the situation during which possible crimes were committed.
The guidebook developed with the assistance of international experts, scientists and practitioners, helps to determine which information will be useful to the ICC and provides practical recommendations for its collection and transmission to the Court.
Vadym CHERNYSH, Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons of Ukraine:
«When recommending to usethe Guidebook, we do not seek to put the role and functions of the investigator on representatives of non-governmental organizations and activists who collect information.
However, we believe that the activities of non-governmental organizations relevant to collecting information about possible crimes is an important and powerful source of information for the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, because often, due to various circumstances, law enforcement agencies cannot collect certain important evidence due to mistrust or fear of witnesses and victims, inability to access the site of the incident, and so on. On the other hand, non-governmental organizations can establish trusting relationships with affected individuals and provide important information regarding the general context in which violations occurred. Often, non-governmental organizations manage to document the violation immediately upon commitment, avoiding the accidental loss of evidence».
MTOT will forward developed Guidebook to non-governmental organizations, members of the Interdepartmental Commission on the generalization of the legal position of the State relevant to repelling and restraining armed aggression of the Russian Federation and preparation of a consolidated claim of Ukraine against the Russian Federation regarding implementation of its international legal responsibility for armed aggression against Ukraine, the Interdepartmental Commission on the application and implementation of international humanitarian law in Ukraine, as a body carrying out informational and organizational supply of the activities of the Commissions defined ***.
Electronic version of the guidebook can be downloaded at the following LINK.
MTOT expresses its gratitude to the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine for fruitful cooperation and active support of the Ministry in development of the Guidebook.
*The ICC is located in The Hague, the Netherland. The Rome Statute was adopted by 120 States in Rome on July 17, 1998 and entered into force on July 1, 2002. Now there are 122 States - Parties that ratified or acceded to the Statute.
**Ukraine signed the Rome Statute of the ICC on January 20, 2000, but did not ratify it. On July 11, 2001, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine provided conclusion on the inconsistency of the Statute of the Constitution of Ukraine due to the complementarity of its jurisdiction. Subsequently, amendments were made to the Article 124 of the Constitution of Ukraine that enabled ratification, and entered into force on June 30, 2019. From this date, Ukraine can ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC and become a full member of this international organization.
However, not being a member of the ICC, Ukraine twice recognized its jurisdiction ad hoc (for specific situations), by submitting special statements to the court under Article 12 (3) to the Statute. The first one concerning the events of Euromaidan, the second - situation of armed conflict in Ukraine. According to these statements, the ICC can exercise jurisdiction over crimes falling under its jurisdiction committed throughout Ukraine (including Crimea and Donbas), starting from November 21, 2013 - events occurring in Euromaidan.
On September 8, 2015, Ukraine submitted a Statement to the ICC with respect to all crimes within the Court's jurisdiction (primarily crimes against humanity and war crimes) committed in Ukraine since the outbreak of military aggression of the Russian Federation against our state. The statement is unlimited. Therefore, the ICC will have jurisdiction over these crimes regardless of the citizenship of the persons who committed them - these may be citizens of Ukraine, citizens of the aggressor state or any third states.
***MTOT in accordance with the Provision of the Ministry monitors compliance with international humanitarian law and takes measures to respond to the facts of its violation; organizes and carries out work on clarification of issues relevant to the necessity of respecting international humanitarian law; monitors the activities of international humanitarian organizations on issues within the competence of MTOT; ensures the fulfilment by the executive authorities of the international obligations of Ukraine on the implementation of the Geneva Conventions from August 12, 1949 on the protection of war victims and other norms of international humanitarian law, and also participates in coordination mechanisms regarding their realization.