Russia’s ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and its support of the separatist hostilities in Ukraine’s eastern provinces of Donbas have resulted in a mounting list of international law violations, 1.5 million IDPs, 3,000 killed civilians and widespread economic hardship. In her preliminary examination of the situation in Ukraine, the ICC Prosecutor has identified a number of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in occupied Crimea (persecution, forced conscription, deportation, sham trials, enforced disappearances, property seizure) and Donbas (killings, torture, inhuman treatment, sexual violence, indiscriminate shelling). And yet, Ukraine is struggling to hold Russia accountable – as a state or through individual criminal responsibility of those acting on its behalf – and to come up with the viable reintegration and reconciliation policies.
Ukraine reached out to the spectrum of available adjudication and arbitration platforms (most notably, to the ICJ, ECtHR, UNCLOS arbitration and the ICC). However, many steps enabling justice and reconciliation, including through the mentioned international and regional platforms, are to be taken domestically.
In their response to the armed conflict violations, domestic investigators, prosecutors, judges and policymakers have become increasingly open to the cooperation with human rights NGOs and foreign professionals. Such development is unparalleled for many post-Soviet institutions, notoriously rigid and hierarchical. And yet much more has to be done. The country is still to fully incorporate war crimes and crimes against humanity into its Criminal Code, to act upon the ratification of the Rome Statute, long overdue, and to decide on the core issues of truth-telling and amnesties. The presentation will discuss how all these processes shape Ukraine’s transitional justice policy, which, as of April 2020, is only coming into being.
Dr Kateryna Busol is a Ukrainian lawyer specialising in international human rights, humanitarian and criminal law. She holds an LLB, LLM and PhD from the Institute of International Relations of Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University and an LLM from the University of Cambridge. After a brief period of corporate work for KPMG and Clifford Chance and with the outbreak of armed conflicts in Ukraine, Kateryna resumed her practice in public international law. She consulted the Ukrainian side on the Scythian Gold case. In 2015-2019 Kateryna worked for Global Rights Compliance (GRC). Within GRC, she consulted Ukrainian state actors and NGOs on the best practices of investigating and prosecuting international crimes and on the cooperation with the International Criminal Court (ICC). Kateryna was a fellow at the Kennan Institute and a Visiting Professional at the ICC. She is the founder of the #InternationalLawTalks media rubric and the Vice-President of the Cambridge Society of Ukraine. Currently, as a fellow of Chatham House, Kateryna is researching the viable options for Ukraine’s transitional justice policy.