The seven members of the Eurojust-supported joint investigation team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine have agreed to not only investigate alleged war crimes, but also crimes of genocide committed in Ukraine.
In a working meeting of the JIT that took place in Vilnius, Lithuania, during 13-14 April, the JIT also welcomed the U.S. Department of Justice’s pledge to second a prosecutor to the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA).
Eurojust Vice-President and National Member for Lithuania, Ms Margarita Šniutytė-Daugėlienė, who participated in the meeting, said:
Our joint presence here in Vilnius is yet another example of something that we have been witnessing ever since the start of the war: the Russian invasion may be a terrible tragedy, but it is also uniting us across countries, continents and organisations. While nothing can make up for the terrible loss and destruction suffered by the Ukrainian people, Eurojust is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the accountability efforts. In addition to supporting the joint investigation team, we are also introducing the Core International Crime Evidence Database and the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression. We expect both of these new initiatives to be real game-changers on the road to justice.
Within a month of the start of the war in Ukraine, Eurojust actively supported the setting up of the JIT by the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian authorities on 25 March 2022. The Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court became a participant in the JIT on 25 April 2022. Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia joined the JIT on 30 May 2022, with Romania becoming a member on 13 October 2022.
On 3 March 2023, the seven national authorities participating in the JIT signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the U.S. Department of Justice. The objective of the MoU is to enhance coordination between the JIT partner countries and the US authorities in their respective investigations in connection with the war in Ukraine.
This was the 17th working meeting of the JIT members, which also counted the presence of the Lithuanian Prosecutor General, Nida Grunskienė, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Mr Andriy Kostin, and the Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division, Kenneth A. Polite, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General Polite stated:
Yesterday and today, in Vilnius, Lithuania, I had the honor of meeting with the Ukraine joint investigation team, which is investigating core international crimes committed in Ukraine. We had productive conversations on ongoing investigations, and I pledged the U.S. Department of Justice’s increased support. Just one month ago, on March 3, in Lviv, Ukraine, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland signed a MoU with all seven JIT national members, becoming the first country to do so. Yesterday, in an effort to further strengthen this partnership, the U.S. Department of Justice pledged to second an experienced prosecutor to the ICPA that will be based at Eurojust in The Hague. We look forward to providing additional resources to assist our colleagues from Ukraine and other JIT member partners, including by sharing our expertise to enhance investigations into atrocities committed by Russian perpetrators. Our mission is clear, our resolve will not weaken, and our determination to seek justice will not waiver. The U.S. Department of Justice is committed to holding Russian perpetrators accountable for their brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
One of the main agenda points of the coordination meeting was the ICPA implementation steps and future modalities of work. Announced on 2 February 2023 by the European Commission President Ms Ursula von der Leyen, the ICPA will be part of the existing support structure for the JIT at Eurojust, with a specific focus on supporting and enhancing investigations into the crime of aggression. To support the JIT and other investigations into core international crimes, Eurojust is setting up a Core International Crimes Database (CICED). More information here.