Analysis: Here’s how war crimes trials work

The ICC’s top war crimes prosecutor has traveled to Ukraine to investigate, and the U.S. embassy in Kiev argued in the early days of the war that certain Russian attacks constituted war crimes.

The bombing of a Russian hospital and a theater where children were being sheltered and the suspicious use of cluster bombs and so-called vacuum bombs in densely populated areas with many civilians were also described as war crimes.
ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan told CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “The law is clear, it is a crime to deliberately target civilians, it is a crime to deliberately target civilians.

But Khan added an understanding of the evidence and a process that must work.

Here is a very broad view of the war crimes and the international justice movement.

Note: Some of the following is from CNN’s research library, which has compiled information about the International Criminal Court.

What is war crime?

The International Criminal Court has definitions of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression. Read about them in this guide published by ICC.

In particular, targeting the civilian population, violating the Geneva Conventions, targeting certain groups of people, and many more could be potential Russian war crimes.

Khan said there could be a fair attack if it was used to carry out attacks in civilian areas. But even then, he said, attacks in civilian areas cannot be inconsistent.

There is a method of collecting evidence from evidence, satellite imagery and other places to meet the burden of evidence.

What is the International Criminal Court?

The International Criminal Court operates independently in The Hague, the Netherlands, and was first created before the United Nations by a treaty called the Rome Statute.

Most countries in the world – 123 of them – are party to the agreement, but there are big and significant exceptions, including Russia and the United States. And, for that matter, Ukraine.

Whose trial may be in court?

Anyone accused of a crime, including ICC member states, can be tried under the jurisdiction of the court. Courts judge people, not countries, and those who are most responsible: focus on leaders and officials. Although Ukraine is not a member of the court, it has previously acknowledged its jurisdiction.

Putin, therefore, could theoretically be charged by a court with ordering war crimes in Crimea.

However, the ICC does not conduct trials in his absence, so he must either be handed over to Russia or arrested outside Russia. It seems unlikely.

Which crime court conducts?

The ICC is meant to be a “last resort” to a court and not to replace a country’s judicial system. The court, where 18 judges serve a nine-year term, tries four types of crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, aggression and war crimes.

How does the ICC come up with the process?

Court proceedings can be brought into one of two ways: either a national government or the UN Security Council may refer a case for investigation.

Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has veto power over the council’s activities. It was the request of 39 national governments, most of them European, that initiated the current investigation.

Khan had previously told CNN, “I want to emphasize that I am willing to talk to all parties, and not just the Ukrainian side, but the Russian Federation, state parties and non-state parties. This organization is not political. We are not part of the geopolitical or geopolitical divide that we see around the world. ”

What will the ICC investigate Ukraine?

In a new probe into possible Russian war crimes, the ICC has said it will look into all Ukraine’s activities since 2013.

Russia first entered Crimea, which was part of Ukraine, in 2014. The ICC is already investigating the crackdown on protesters by the former pro-Russian Ukrainian government. This new referral seems to combine all possible war crimes.

How long does this investigation take?

While justice in general is slow, international justice is scarce. The ICC investigation took many years. Only a few suffixes have won.

The initial investigation into the hostilities in eastern Ukraine lasted more than six years – from April 2014 to December 2020. At the time, prosecutors said there was evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Subsequent steps were slowed by the Covid-19 epidemic and lack of resources in the courts, which are conducting multiple investigations.

That perception of slow and ineffective trials will test the system of international law, Khan told Cooper.

“It simply came to our notice then. It’s a test for me, it’s a test for the office, “he said.

What are cluster bombs and vacuum bombs?

In addition to attacks on hospital and civilian apartment buildings, the horrific use of prohibited weapons to kill without discrimination is another very specific war crime.

With the help of a cluster bomb, a missile is fired and explodes thousands of feet into the air, releasing small bombs that explode every time they fall to the ground. See an image from the Washington Post. A Russian cluster bomb has exploded at a school in Ukraine, according to Amnesty International.

The “vacuum bomb” or thermobaric weapon, sucking oxygen from the surrounding air, creates a powerful explosion and a large pressure wave that can have a lot of destructive effects. Russia has previously used them in Chechnya.

‘It’s genocide’

Now, Russia is facing more charges of war crimes as its forces begin withdrawing from areas near Kiev, including Bucha, after a failed attempt to encircle the capital.

During an appearance on CBS on Sunday, when asked if Russia was carrying out genocide in his country based on Bukhara’s pictures, Zelensky said: “Actually. It’s genocide.”

The alleged atrocities in Bucha have sparked outrage from leaders outside Ukraine, with Western leaders, including US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, calling for an investigation into war crimes and an increase in sanctions on Russia.

“Since the aggression, we have come out and said that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes, and we are working to document it, to provide the information we have to the relevant institutions and organizations that will put everything together. There needs to be accountability, “he told CNN.

CNN was not able to independently confirm the details surrounding the death.

Why would a Ukraine prosecution be different?

According to Ryan Goodman, a law professor at New York University and co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, an online forum, international protests against Russia are unique, and could give the court the power to act differently.

“It is difficult to judge an ICC investigation based on previous practice,” Goodman said in an email after the court initially launched an investigation. “In the case of Ukraine, the prosecutor has been overwhelmed by the extraordinary output of support from dozens of countries, which I hope will be followed by the infusion of resources.”

How will an ICC suit affect the conflict?

“For better or worse, the ICC investigation could affect the diplomatic space for negotiations,” Goodman said, arguing that Putin and other Russians do not want to risk arrest if they travel outside the country.

He argued that the investigation could weaken Putin at home.

“The Russians understand that this is another reason why Putin will not be able to serve their country,” Goodman said.

What happened before the ICC?

Previous trials for war crimes have been brought by UN special tribunals, such as those listed for the former Yugoslavia, the Serbian dictators Slobodan Milosevic and the Rwandan genocide.

All of this stemmed from Nuremberg’s precedent for bringing the Nazis to justice after World War II and was held by allies, including the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Germany.

So it is interesting that neither the US nor Russia is a member of the ICC.

Why US and Russia are not members of ICC?

Both the United States and Russia are signatories to the treaty that the court has created – meaning their leaders have signed it – but neither is a member of the court.

Russia withdrew from the court in 2016 after an ICC report was published by CNN calling Russia’s annexation of Crimea a “disgusting verdict.” The court also launched an investigation in 2016 into Russia’s 2008 efforts to support isolated territories in Georgia.

At the time, France also accused Russia of war crimes in Syria.

For the United States, when President Bill Clinton signed the court-building agreement in 2000, he never recommended that it be approved by the Senate.

The George W. Bush administration, for the most part, pulled the United States out of the treaty in 2002. The Pentagon and many U.S. policymakers have long opposed joining such an international tribunal because it could face accusations from members of the U.S. military. War crimes.

“The president (George W. Bush) thinks the ICC is fundamentally flawed because it puts American soldiers and women at fundamental risk of being judged by an entity that is outside the reach of the United States, outside of American law, and subjecting American civilians and military to arbitrary standards.” Of justice, “said Ari Fleischer, then White House Press Secretary.

How has the United States supported the court?

Opposing the US court does not mean that the Bush administration itself opposed the court. It supports the ICC’s efforts to bring genocide to justice in Sudan.

There has always been an awkwardness in how American presidents treat the courts, CNN’s Tim Lister noted in 2011. He wrote about Barack Obama, praising the ICC’s efforts to bring to justice people like former Serb general Ratko Mladic and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, although he did not. Court approval for US supervision.

This story and its title have been updated with additional developments.

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