More than a year into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, reports of atrocities being committed by Russian forces, including the killing of unarmed civilians and bombing of hospitals and schools, continue to dominate the news.
Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, at a recent hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that his office has registered approximately 80,000 incidents of potential war crimes, and 31 Russians to date have been convicted of war crimes in Ukrainian courts.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is also investigating potential war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine. The ICC recently issued an arrest warrant charging President Putin and another Russian Federation official with war crimes in response to the forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian territory. Given the scope of ongoing activities, both Ukraine’s justice system and the ICC face continuing challenges with resources and evidence collection.
Recognizing this need, Congress amended key provisions in U.S. law to expand authority to share information with, and provide assistance to, the ICC for Ukraine-related investigations as a part of the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act enacted in December 2022. However, recent reports indicate that the Administration has not yet utilized the full extent of this authority, primarily due to objections by the Department of Defense. In response, ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross sent a letter to President Biden on April 6th urging the Administration to release to the ICC all relevant evidence in its possession that might advance the ICC’s investigation of potential atrocity crimes in Ukraine.