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The Pentagon is reportedly blocking the handing over of Russian war crimes evidence to the International Criminal Court



The US supports international investigations into war crimes in Ukraine

Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times reports that the US Department of Defense is blocking the transfer of evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are said to be worried about a possible trial for American war crimes.

The American newspaper New York Times in an article cites some current and former US officials that the US Department of Defense, also known as the Pentagon, is opposed to handing over evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The evidence is said to include material on Russian officials’ decisions to deliberately attack civilian infrastructure and kidnap thousands of Ukrainian children from occupied territory, according to The Seattle Times.

However, according to the sources, the US Department of Defense believes that the ICC could issue a precedential verdict based on the evidence, which could also be used to prosecute US soldiers who participated in foreign wars, so it refuses to hand over the evidence.

The US administration supports cooperation with the ICC

The White House, the State Department, the Justice Department and the intelligence services all support US cooperation with the International Criminal Court, according to the sources.

The International Criminal Court occupies an important place in the ecosystem of international justice and the US supports the investigation of the ICC Prosecutor,“, for example, the US international envoy for global justice said at a conference in Lviv last week Beth van Schaack.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is said to have opposed the handing over of evidence at a meeting of the National Security Council.  Photo: Reuters

Joe Biden has the last word

Vice President of the US government Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Conference accused Russia of crimes against humanity in Ukraine and expressed support for international investigations.

The disagreement between most of the administration and the Pentagon is expected to be resolved at a meeting of the National Security Council on February 3, according to sources, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin he didn’t give in. American president Joe Biden has yet to make a final decision on the matter, the Guardian reports.

The US has been able to assist international courts since last year

Last December, the US Congress changed long-standing legal restrictions on US assistance to courts, allowing the US to participate in investigations and possible prosecutions related to the war in Ukraine. Among the main initiators of the changes was a Republican senator Lindsey Grahamwhich also blames the Pentagon for the deadlock.

The Ministry of Defense opposed the legislative change – it was passed by a large majority – and now they are trying to undermine the letter and spirit of the law. The Department of Defense seems to be the problem child here. The sooner the ICC gets the information, the better it will be for the whole world,Graham told the New York Times.

The US supports the UN, ICC and OSCE investigations

The US is actively participating in the investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. “The United States is supporting a series of investigations to identify and hold those responsible, including through the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the United Nations, expert missions under the auspices of the Moscow Mechanism of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), and the International Criminal Court, among others.” the press office of the National Security Council explained to the Guardian Adrienne Watson.

The Guardian also asked the US Department of Defense for comment on the New York Times’ report, which only said: “The Ministry of Defense believes that Russia should be held accountable.

The Rome Statute has not been ratified by Ukraine, Russia, or the United States

The International Criminal Court (ICC), based in the Dutch city of The Hague, began investigating alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine shortly after the start of the war. However, the ICC has limited adjudication powers, as neither Russia nor Ukraine has ratified the Rome Statute, on the basis of which the court was established.

This makes him the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly called for the establishment of a separate court for Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the European Union is preparing to establish an international war crimes prosecution office in Ukraine.

Ukraine can hand over suspects to the ICC

Chief Prosecutor of the ICC Karim Khan announced last October that Ukraine could hand over Russian suspects of war crimes to the ICC for consideration if the trial in Ukraine could not be held for legal reasons. The Rome Statute states that the international court only has jurisdiction if the courts in the home country are unwilling or unable to prosecute the suspect.

The ICC was established under the Rome Statute in 2002 to deal with crimes at the international level, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Although American legal experts also helped draft the Rome Statute and although it was signed in 2000 by the then US President Bill Clinton, was never ratified by the Senate. Clinton’s successor George W. Bush then the US withdrew its signature.

Source: Rtvslo

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