“No element leads to the conclusion that a crime of genocide is being committed,” says a lawyer

“Today there is no element that seems to lead to the conclusion that a crime of genocide is being committed in Ukraine”Clémence Bectarte, a lawyer for the International Federation for Human Rights (Fidh), said Thursday, April 14, on franceinfo. While several leaders of the international community, not joe biden, denounced the genocide committed by Russia in Ukraine. Emmanuel Macron does not want to endorse this terminology. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared himself “injured” by the reservation of the French Head of State. “You still have to remember that words have meaning and it is important not to confuse them”says the lawyer.

>> Follow live the latest events of the war in Ukraine.

franceinfo: Should we use the term genocide?

Clemencia Bectarte: Today there is nothing that seems to lead to the conclusion that a crime of genocide is being committed in Ukraine. The crime of genocide is effectively typified by the will to exterminate a population as a whole because, in this case, of its nationality. That doesn’t really seem to be the case, based on information coming back from the field today. So, we still have to remember that words have meaning and it’s important not to confuse them.

“The fact that a crime of genocide is not being perpetrated does not mean that extremely serious crimes are not being committed in Ukraine.”

Clémence Bectarte, lawyer at Fidh

in france info

>> Can we speak of a “genocide” perpetrated by the Russian army, as President Volodymyr Zelensky says?

So, is it normal that the international community is divided on this issue?

Yes, and this is all the more normal when it comes to legal terms and normally the fact is that it is the courts of justice that must establish the reality of these crimes. It is up to the International Criminal Court to carry out its investigation. It is up to the national courts to do so and to be able to legally establish whether the elements of these various crimes are constituted. But once again today, it is quite relevant to talk about war crimes. The International Criminal Court has also opened an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.

What is the difference between war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide?

War crimes are crimes committed in the context of war in connection with an armed conflict. These are mainly crimes committed against persons protected by international humanitarian law, therefore civilians. A crime against humanity is a crime that can be committed in time of peace or in time of war, but which involves the manifestation of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population. This goes beyond a certain level and it would have to be shown that the Russian authorities wish to launch a systematic or widespread attack targeting only the Ukrainian civilian population. This is one of the qualifications for which the International Criminal Court has opened its investigation since the beginning of March. This clearly shows that there is a special vigilance on this rating.

“What have now been shown to be war crimes committed by the Russian military in Ukraine could perhaps rise to the level of crimes against humanity.”

Clemence Bectarte

in france info

Does it take time to define the notion of all these crimes?

Obviously, it is very rare that justice can be exercised in real time. The investigation was opened very soon, after the outbreak of the Russian invasion at the level of the International Criminal Court. There are now a dozen states that have also opened investigations in their national courts, including, of course, Ukraine. These initiatives are appreciated. In any case, it is very important that today, the question of justice and the fight against impunity be placed very early in the international discussion, very early since the beginning of this invasion. But for all that, we must also remember that justice is always a time that must be respected, it is important. In the first place because it is complex to prove the crimes, but it is even more complex to establish responsibilities, since this is one of the objectives of the investigation of the International Criminal Court, even to establish the maximum responsibilities, whether military or political. .

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