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International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Ukraine

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The International Criminal Court will “immediately proceed” with an investigation into possible war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide in Ukraine, the court’s chief prosecutor Karim Khan announced in a statement Wednesday.

The move comes after 39 countries — including France, Italy, Poland, Canada and the United Kingdom — referred the case to the court. “Our work in the collection of evidence has now commenced,” Khan said in his statement.

Khan’s predecessor completed a preliminary examination in December 2020, concluding that there was a “reasonable basis” to believe war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed since the early days of Ukraine’s 2014 revolution. But she cited “capacity constraint,” “overextended resources” and the COVID-19 pandemic as obstacles to proceeding with a formal investigation.

Khan said he was seeking “the partnership and contributions of all States in order to address our need for additional resources” for the court’s work.

Human rights groups have been collecting evidence of what they say are apparent war crimes by Russian military forces since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a full-scale invasion of Ukraine last week.  “We’re now seeing attacks on civilian objects much outside the Donbas region,” said Marie Struthers on Monday, director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, referring to the eastern part of Ukraine where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the government since 2014.

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