Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney urged countries at the United Nations on Wednesday to focus on international justice for war crimes in Ukraine so that evidence is not emplaced – as is the case for victims of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria case was.
“Today Ukraine is a slaughterhouse. Right in the heart of Europe,” Clooney said at an informal UN Security Council meeting on accountability in Ukraine organized by France and Albania. Clooney recalled a 2017 Security Council vote approving a measure she campaigned for – the creation of a UN team to collect, preserve and safeguard evidence of possible international crimes committed by the Islamic State in Iraq. In the same year, their son and daughter were born with US actor George Clooney.
“My children are almost 5 years old now and so far most of the evidence gathered by the UN is in storage – because there is no international court to try ISIS,” she said. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which deals with war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and crimes of aggression, has no jurisdiction as Iraq and Syria are not members.
Clooney is part of an international legal task force advising Ukraine on ensuring accountability for Ukrainian victims in national jurisdictions and working with the Hague-based International Criminal Court. ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan launched an investigation into Ukraine a week after Russia’s February 24 invasion.
“This is a time when we must mobilize the law and send it into battle. Not on the side of Ukraine against the Russian Federation or on the side of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, but on the side of humanity,” Khan told the UN meeting. The Russian diplomat Sergei Leonidchenko described the ICC as a “political instrument”. He accused the United States and Britain of hypocrisy for supporting the ICC’s investigation into Ukraine after “doing everything possible to shield their own military.”
Moscow describes its February 24 invasion of Ukraine as a “military special operation” and denies attacking civilians. The office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova told Reuters that it is preparing war crimes charges against at least seven Russian military personnel.
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