“Never before has international justice mobilized so quickly,” says a jurist

“Never the international justice didn’t move that fast only after suspicions of war crimes by Russian soldiers in Ukraine, underlines Reed Brody, a member of the International Commission of Jurists and a specialist in the defense of human rights, on Friday, April 8, on franceinfo. The International Criminal Court (CPI) opened an investigation in early March, after a week of conflict.

franceinfo: How would you rate the scenes seen in the Ukraine, on Boutcha in particular?

Reed Brody: We are all disgusted, outraged by these images of carnage. They are images of war crimes, crimes against humanity, that is, crimes committed on a large scale or systematically. We are also faced, from the very beginning, with a crime of aggression which is the supreme international crime, an unwarranted invasion of another country in violation of the Charter of the United Nations.

The ICC opened an investigation in early March. Have you ever moved so quickly in a conflict?

Never has international justice been mobilized as quickly as it is now. The ICC, supported by 41 countries including France, has investigators on the ground taking testimony and evidence. Now we also have 12 countries, including France, that are conducting their own investigation, either in the name of universal jurisdiction that requires certain crimes to cross borders or, as is the case with France, in defense of French citizens who were killed. in Ukraine. Above all, there is the Prosecutor General of Ukraine who has opened investigations on his own territory and in fact it is justice that is the most advanced.

Is it difficult to gather evidence in times of war?

Obviously, there are many difficulties. For the witnesses you have to centralize a bit, but there are a lot of videos, there are a lot of objects, ammunition to study, badges, trajectories, there are Russian prisoners, there are intercepted Russian messages because you don’t have a very sophisticated communication system. Yesterday, the German intelligence services published conversations that give the impression that the atrocities perpetrated for example in Boutcha were not random acts or the product of soldiers out of control, but were part of the daily life of the Russian troops. We hear, for example, a Russian soldier say “first you interrogate people, then you kill them”. All this new evidence needs to be collated. We also have thousands of internet users all over the world who help to cut videos looking for different angles. All these elements, it is very important now that we preserve them, that we conserve them.

Some countries denounce war crimes in Ukraine but do not support the ICC. Isn’t it paradoxical?

There is a lot of hypocrisy. United States, for example. The fear of the United States towards the International Criminal Court is precisely that it claims to have jurisdiction to try nationals of countries that are not members of the ICC. When investigating the actions of the Americans in Afghanistan, away from home, the United States says that it cannot because they are not part of the ICC. But they want soldiers from Russia – which is also not part of the ICC – to be investigated for crimes committed in Ukraine. So there is a lot of hypocrisy.

What we want is for this mobilization in favor of the International Court of Justice to be universal. There are many other massacres in the world, in Mali this week, in Yemen, in Palestine, in Ethiopia. We should have the same solidarity, the same conscience for everyone. If we had investigated the same crimes, committed by the same Russian generals in Syria or in Grozny [capitale de la Tchétchénie prise par la Russie en 2000], perhaps this war would turn out differently. Whether it takes a year, two years, five years or ten years, impunity must end and those who commit these crimes must be brought to justice.

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