France lends its support to the investigations opened for “war crimes” in Ukraine

A small delegation of French investigators, including forensic doctors, will soon be working intensively in the kyiv region. Following the discovery of civilians executed by soldiers, notably in Boutcha, France offered its assistance in contributing to investigations into the atrocities committed during the Russian occupation.

On Tuesday, April 5, Emmanuel Macron and Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the issue during a remote interview. The Ukrainian president had just denounced, during a videoconference before the UN Security Council, the “war crimes” committed by the Russian troops, facts discovered during their hasty withdrawal from the outskirts of the capital. Mr. Macron underlined “France’s readiness to support international justice and contribute to the work of investigating and documenting the violence perpetrated against civilians, to ensure that Russia is held accountable.”

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Unlike Joe Biden, who calls Vladimir Putin a “war criminal”The French Head of State does not endorse this qualification, but according to those around him, he places himself in a position “Operational” : “There is the fact of saying things, that is good, but, in the end, it is a judicial process and we put ourselves in that field, in the field of action, of the operational, to really help Ukraine. » In order to launch this cooperation as soon as possible, contacts have been carried out between the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova, and the French Ministry of Justice.

The “quasi-universal jurisdiction” of the Antiterrorist Prosecutor’s Office

This aid must be distinguished, although the steps may be complementary, from the support provided by Paris to the investigations initiated by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Captured by 39 States Parties, including the countries of the European Union, the ICC Attorney General, the British Karim Khan, opened an investigation at the beginning of March into the acts committed by the Russian forces since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine. . If kyiv has not ratified the Rome Convention that creates the ICC, the Ukrainian authorities have recognized its jurisdiction since 2014, for events dating back to the war in Donbass.

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Due to lack of means, the Court of The Hague has the support of the States that seized it to carry out its work. Paris should therefore put at his disposal several experts, two magistrates and ten gendarmes to begin with. It was also decided to advance the French contribution to the budget of the institution founded in 2002 (ie 13.3 million euros), while paying exceptional aid (490,000 euros). French support can also take the form of information, which is essential to advance investigations and search for people suspected of having committed crimes. France has experience in this type of cooperation with the ICC: it is the main contributor to its various investigations in Africa.

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