Eurojust and the war in Ukraine

EU-Ukraine mapOn this page, you will find the latest information on Eurojust’s role in the judicial proceedings with regard to the war in Ukraine. Please refer to the Q&As for answers to the most common questions. Below that, the section ‘latest developments’ will give you an overview of recent proceedings and events. The Twitter feed shows the latest tweets and retweets of Eurojust in relation to Ukraine. If you are a media representative and you have questions beyond those answered on this page, please contact the Eurojust media team.

Q&As

A joint investigation team (JIT) is the most advanced tool in international cooperation in criminal matters. It is a team in which judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials work together on a transnational criminal investigation, based on a legal agreement between two or more countries for a fixed period. Eurojust has been assisting countries to set up and operate JITs since 2009.
Eurojust supported Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine in setting up the JIT on 25 March 2022, the International Criminal Court becoming a participant and the extension of the JIT to three more EU member states. The Agency will support the JIT partners in the entire process with operational, analytical, legal and financial assistance. Eurojust also accommodates the coordination and cooperation between all national investigating and prosecuting authorities who have initiated investigations into core international crimes.
The JIT was set up by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. On 31 May, Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia became members. Both Eurojust and the ICC are participants in the JIT.
While it cannot be excluded that other EU Member States will join the JIT at a later stage, it is important keep the size of the JIT limited so the number of members does not negatively influence the decision making processes. Member States that joined so far are all in possession of large amounts of evidence in the form of witness and victim testimonies coming from Ukrainian refugees.
The European Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (‘Genocide Network’) enables close cooperation between national authorities investigating and prosecuting the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, known collectively as core international crimes. The Network’s mandate is to ensure perpetrators do not attain impunity within the Member States.

The ‘Freeze and Seize' Task Force was set up by the European Commission to ensure the efficient implementation of the EU sanctions against listed Russian and Belarussian oligarchs across the EU.

The Task Force is composed of the Commission, national contact points from each Member State, Eurojust and Europol as well as other EU agencies and bodies as necessary. It will coordinate actions by EU Member States, Eurojust, Europol and other agencies to seize and, where national law provides for it, confiscate assets of Russian and Belarussian oligarchs.

The amendment of the Eurojust Regulation solidifies the Agency’s existing legal basis to deal with evidence of core international crimes. The two major changes include: 1) the creation of a dedicated database at Eurojust to store evidence of core international crimes; and 2) Eurojust’s new mandate to analyse the evidence stored in the dedicated database. Eurojust will set up the database where evidence of war crimes will be preserved and stored securely. Eurojust will analyse the evidence to establish links, identify investigative gaps and advise prosecutors on the way forward. Eurojust will work closely with the International Criminal Court, so that analysis can also benefit their investigation, through their cooperation with States concerned. Access to the information will always be subject to the approval of the country who provided it.

The amendment allows for Eurojust to store physical as well as digital evidence. However, in the first instance, the Agency will concentrate on storing digital evidence only. The evidence database will be set up within Eurojust’s secure IT environment and comply with the highest IT security and data protection standards.

Before the database can become operational, an assessment of the European Data Protection Supervisor of the proposed setup needs to take place. Once the data protection assessment is complete, the database will be operational shortly after. Eurojust has already started preparations for the database’s implementation.

Eurojust will be using digital data formats per type of evidence (testimonies from victims or witnesses; areal/satellite images; video footage and photographs).

This will ensure that evidence is transmitted in a uniform way and facilitate the subsequent processing, cross-checking, and analysis.

When the Commission published the legislative proposal, Eurojust immediately started preparing for the implementation. The aim is to have the database operational as soon as possible after the European Data Protection Supervisor’s assessment.

Eurojust will receive evidence submitted by national authorities. Information collected by private parties such as NGO’s and Civil Society Organisations may eventually become evidence, but it needs to be assessed by national and international judicial authorities. Private parties are therefore asked to submit relevant information to their national authorities.

The amendment enables Eurojust to play a central role in the prosecution of core international crimes committed during current and future armed conflicts, regardless of their geographical location.

Latest developments

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Eurojust Vice-President Margarita Šniutytė-Daugėlienė presents at the Ukraine Accountability Conference, organised by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ICC and the European Commission. At the end of the event, the Political Declaration of the Ministerial Ukraine Accountability Conference is adopted.
Lukáš Starý, National Member for the Czech Republic at Eurojust and Chair of the Board on Relations with Partners, represents the Agency at the Informal Meeting of Justice and Home Affairs Ministers in Prague. The judicial part of the meeting focuses on the investigation of alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine, the protection of vulnerable persons and victims of crime, and the digitalisation of international cross-border judicial cooperation with third countries.
The Genocide Network Secretariat and the European Judicial Training Network organise a joint training on the 'Investigation and Prosecution of Core International Crimes' in Nuremberg, Germany, hosted by the International Nuremberg Principles Academy.
The Guidelines on Joint Investigation Teams Involving Third Countries, jointly prepared by the JITs Network Secretariat and Eurojust, provide guidance to EU Member State practitioners on setting up a joint investigation team with a third country. A Checklist for Practitioners is also available and will soon be translated into all EU languages.
Eurojust gains new powers to preserve, analyse and store evidence on core international crimes as the amendment to the Eurojust Regulation enters into force.
Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia sign an agreement to become members of the joint investigation team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. In a Eurojust press conference, held together with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and attended by the Prosecutors General of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, the enlargement of the JIT is officially announced. Watch the press conference on YouTube.
In a written procedure, the Council of the European Union adopts the amendments of the Eurojust Regulation that will allow the Agency to store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The European Parliament votes to extend the mandate of Eurojust, with 560 votes in favour, 17 against and 18 abstaining.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will become a participant in the joint investigation team (JIT) on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine. ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC and the Prosecutors General of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine sign an agreement on the first ever participation of the Court in a JIT. With this agreement, the JIT parties and the ICC send a clear message that all efforts will be undertaken to effectively gather evidence on core international crimes committed in Ukraine and bring those responsible to justice.
Eurojust welcomes the European Commission's proposal to amend the Eurojust Regulation to collect, analyse and preserve evidence related to core international crimes, and to process data such as videos, audio recordings and satellite images, and share such evidence with national and international authorities, including the International Criminal Court. President Ladislav Hamran states : ‘The mandate to store and preserve evidence related to war crimes and other core international crimes will further bear witness to the European Union’s commitment to the rule of law, including in war situations, and to Eurojust’s mission of getting justice done across borders.’
The European Commission proposes to amend the Eurojust Regulation to give the Agency the legal possibility to collect, preserve and share evidence on war crimes. The Commission statement underlines that ‘to ensure accountability for the crimes committed in Ukraine, it is crucial to ensure safe storage of evidence outside Ukraine as well as to support the investigations and prosecutions by various European and international judicial authorities. While Eurojust has practical experience on international crimes, the existing Regulation did not envisage a situation of this scale and crimes of this extent, requiring an update in Eurojust’s legal base.’
Evelina Dobrovolska, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Lithuania, visit Eurojust. President Ladislav Hamran and Ms Dobrovolska discuss current questions of international cooperation, among which the judicial proceedings regarding the war in Ukraine.
The countries forming part of the joint investigation team meet at Eurojust with representatives of other countries and institutions, including the International Criminal Court (ICC), the National Members of EU countries and the Liaison Prosecutors of third countries stationed at the Agency. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers joins the open session. During the meeting, the participants discuss the initiatives taken at EU level, as well as by national authorities and the ICC, to build cases and collect evidence. The JIT parties express their appreciation for the close cooperation with the ICC and the common efforts to include the ICC into the legal cooperation framework offered by the JIT agreement. They also call for a common platform for the collection and storage of procedural evidence, to ensure that collected evidence can be identified, thus avoiding duplication of work and over-documentation.
The ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force meets with US and Ukrainian representatives to discuss international cooperation on the enforcement of sanctions. It is announced that almost EUR 30 billion of assets of Russian and Belarussian oligarchs and entities have been frozen by the EU so far.
The U.S. Special Envoy for Belarus, Ambassador Julie D. Fisher, visits Eurojust. President Hamran and Ambassador Fisher discuss accountability for human rights violations in Belarus.
The Genocide Network holds its 31st meeting. Participants discuss the use of structural investigations and lessons learned from the Koblenz trial.
Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran takes part in an online discussion organised by MEP Sergey Lagodinsky on Building the Case - Bringing Russia to Justice. A recording of the event is made available afterwards.
The Genocide Network hosts its second special session on Ukraine. Valuable discussions with civil society on initiatives for documenting crimes. Additional agenda points: the cooperation between national authorities, Eurojust and the International Criminal Court, as well as challenges, needs and coordination pertaining to the situation in Ukraine.
At the EU-US Senior Officials Meeting both the EU and US delegations acknowledge Eurojust’s coordinating role at EU level for investigations into war crimes, as well as for freeze and seize initiatives.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen issues a statement following her phone call with President Zelenskyy on the Commission's reactions to the atrocities in Bucha.
A second extraordinary meeting of the NREM (EU Network of National Rapporteurs or Equivalent Mechanisms) organised by the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator takes place in an online format to take stock of the situation in regard to trafficking in human beings related to the war in Ukraine. The representatives of all EU Member States, Eurojust, Europol, Frontex, EUAA, and CEPOL give an update on the situation and on their activities.
The parties of the joint investigation team meet with representatives of Eurojust, Europol and the International Criminal Court. All participants emphasise the need for proper gathering and preservation of evidence at this initial stage of the ongoing investigations. In light of the large scope of the alleged violations, the participants underline the need to look for ways to ensure the efficient use of resources and avoid duplication of investigations, investigative actions, evidence gathering, etc. Eurojust and Europol present their possibilities to further support the joint investigation team. The delegations agree to continue their close cooperation in this case.
Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran delivers his presentation International Justice - A prosecutor’s view on armed conflict and the road to delivering justice in a webinar of the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin, Ireland. A recording of the event is made available afterwards.
JITs National Experts come together in a working group meeting to discuss a range of JIT-related issues and to prepare the Network plenary meeting that will take place in October. One of the main topics is ‘JITs in times of conflict’, which addresses also the current developments in Ukraine and future needs of judicial cooperation. The Experts consider how JITs could be used to facilitate investigations into war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, and other similar crime types. Additionally, case presentations from prosecutors involved in JITs set up in similar cases provide for a valuable opportunity to exchange some experience and best practices.
Responsible national authorities of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine sign a JIT agreement to enable the exchange of information and facilitate investigations into war crimes, crimes against humanity and other core international crimes. Participation in the JIT may be extended to other EU Member States, third countries or other third parties in due course.
The Genocide Network gives an introductory training for practitioners from national authorities on investigating and prosecuting core international crimes.
Several EU Ministers of Justice and their Ukrainian counterpart meet at Eurojust to discuss the proceedings in regard to Ukraine. Eurojust publishes a statement of President Hamran. Further statements are published in a press release of the French Ministry of Justice.
EU ambassadors in The Hague have a work meeting at the French Embassy with ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan and Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran.
Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran and ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan meet for discussions at the Agency’s headquarters in The Hague.
The Ambassador of Ukraine to the Netherlands, H.E. Maksym Kononenko, visits Eurojust for talks with President Ladislav Hamran.
In light of the developments in Ukraine, the JITs Network Secretariat facilitates an informal meeting between several National Experts on JITs to discuss joint investigation teams with third countries and JITs in times of conflict. The Experts exchange views on possible obstacles in establishing JITs with third countries affected by armed conflict in terms of possibilities/limitations to cooperate and gather evidence; possible limitations stemming from domestic jurisdiction rules to investigate and/or prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity when committed abroad, and previous experience in JITs set up in similar cases.
The European Commission publishes a press release on the ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force.
European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders opens the kick-off meeting of the ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force. Goal of the coordination at EU level is to ensure the effective freezing and confiscation of assets of sanctioned individuals and entities. Eurojust’s role will be to centrally collect information on criminal proceedings against persons and companies on the sanctions list.
The Genocide Network holds an extraordinary meeting about Ukraine. The meeting is opened by European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders. Iryna Venediktova, Prosecutor General of Ukraine, and Karim A.A. Khan, Prosecutor of the ICC, give keynote speeches. More than 130 representatives of investigative authorities and NGOs attend and share information on their ongoing actions, laying a foundation for future cooperation.
The EU Justice and Home Affairs agencies’ network (JHAAN) publishes a joint statement on the agencies’ support for EU institutions and Member States with regard to Ukraine.
After the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council meeting, EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders holds a press conference in which he announces the establishment of a ‘Freeze and Seize’ Task Force aimed at ensuring that sanctions against Russia and Belarus are enforced. Eurojust is encouraged to fully exercise its coordinating role and to make itself available as required to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in connection with the exercise of his duties. Further details of the JHA Council meeting’s results are published in a press release.
A coordination meeting is held at Eurojust at the initiative of the Prosecutor General of Lithuania, the Polish Minister of Justice and Prosecutor General and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.