The Ukrainian authorities organised the United for Justice Conference from 3-5 March in the city of Lviv, bringing together a great number of stakeholders involved in the efforts to ensure accountability for core international crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine. As a key outcome of the conference, the seven partner countries1 of the Eurojust supported joint investigation team (JIT) decided to amend the agreement between them in order to reflect the future role of the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA).
The ICPA will be part of the existing support structure for the JIT, with a specific focus on supporting and enhancing investigations into the crime of aggression. The current amendments to the JIT agreement formalise Eurojust’s role in support of the ICPA and specify that JIT partner countries may benefit from the additional logistical, financial and operational support it offers.
As a JIT participant, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court may take part in the cooperation via the ICPA when certain conditions are met. Now that the ICPA is officially part of the JIT agreement, Eurojust will proceed with the practical implementation. The main building blocks are expected to be in place by the summer. The JIT members, the OTP and Eurojust will continue their smooth cooperation regarding ongoing investigations on alleged core international crimes in Ukraine.
Commenting on the revised JIT agreement, Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran said: ‘These amendments are a crucial milestone in the process of setting up the ICPA. They reflect the ambition of all JIT partners to address the impunity gap and give Eurojust a solid legal basis to proceed with the practical implementation as swiftly as possible. The fact that the amendments were agreed upon during such an important conference in Lviv is a symbol of our continued commitment to ensuring justice for the Ukrainian people.’
The United for Justice Conference also marked the official launch of the Ukraine Accountability Dialogue Group, aimed at promoting dialogue and coherence across the diverse range of accountability initiatives currently in motion. The decision to set up the Dialogue Group was taken by 45 countries at the Ukraine Accountability Conference, held in The Hague on 14 July last year. Together with the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, Eurojust will co-chair a workstream on national investigations with the aim to identify key challenges faced in core international crime cases and jointly propose solutions at policy level.
The conference was officially opened by Ukrainian President Mr Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as by a video message of the European Commission President Ms Ursula von der Leyen, and amongst the participants were Prosecutor General of Ukraine Mr Andriy Kostin, European Commissioner for Justice Mr Didier Reynders and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Mr Karim A. A. Khan QC. Over the course of three days, there were many panel discussions on a wide range of topics related to the ongoing accountability efforts.
Joint Investigation Team on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine
On 2 March 2022, Eurojust organised a coordination meeting at the request of the national authorities of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine to discuss the prosecution of alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. On 25 March 2022, a JIT agreement was signed between the three national authorities, with Eurojust providing full support.
This JIT facilitates the exchange of information and evidence and strengthens coordination. On 25 April 2022, the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) became a participant in the JIT, with the authorities of Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia joining on 30 May 2022. Romania became a member of the JIT on 13 October last year.
Between March 2022 and now, Eurojust has hosted 14 coordination meetings of the JIT and other national authorities who are investigating alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. The Agency provides legal, logistical, financial and analytical support to the JIT.
International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA)
Eurojust will support the new International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA), as announced by European Commission President Ms Ursula von der Leyen on 2 February of this year. Its main purpose is to enhance investigations into the crime of aggression by securing key evidence and facilitating the process of case building at an early stage.
The ICPA will be an integral part of the existing support structure at Eurojust for the joint investigation team on Ukraine, ensuring optimal alignment between the investigations into core international crimes and the crime of aggression. Details of the implementation are currently being discussed; prosecutors working at the ICPA can be based at Eurojust on a semi-permanent basis while they continue to work on their domestic investigations in accordance with their national law. Eurojust is set to provide legal, operational and logistic support.
Ukraine Accountability Dialogue Group
The Ukraine Accountability Dialogue Group aims to promote dialogue across the diverse range of national and international accountability initiatives relevant to the situation in Ukraine, as well as identify opportunities to enhance the coherence of action in these efforts, where appropriate.
The work of the Group will be structured across two levels of action, with the continual work of four thematic workstreams feeding into an expert-level Plenary Dialogue Group meeting and an annual Ministerial-level Meeting. In addition to the workstream on national investigations that will be co-chaired by Eurojust and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, the other workstreams will focus on assistance to Ukraine, actions by international and regional institutions and civil society documentation efforts.
1. Ukraine, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Romania.