June 18, 2024

Human rights lawyers working with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine are preparing a dossier of war crimes for submission to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing Russia of deliberately causing starvation during its war against Ukraine.

Source: The Guardian

Details: The Guardian notes that the lawyers’ aim is to document cases where the Russian invaders used hunger as a weapon of war, in order to provide evidence that will allow the ICC to launch the first such criminal prosecution that could bring charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yousuf Khan, a senior lawyer with law firm Global Rights Compliance (GRC), emphasises that “the weaponisation of food has taken place in three phases,” beginning with the initial invasion, during which food supplies were cut off and Ukrainian cities were besieged.

He described the second phase as the destruction of “objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population” throughout Ukraine, including food, water, and energy sources.

The third phase is Russia’s attempts to prevent or restrict the export of Ukrainian food.

The Guardian recalls that in 2018, the UN Security Council approved a resolution condemning the use of hunger as a means of warfare, and in 2019, the Rome Statute of the ICC was amended to expand the list of cases that may be brought in this regard.

GRC will be assembling the dossier in close cooperation with Ukrainian prosecutors until the end of next year. The aim is to file under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, which allows third parties to send information about alleged war crimes to the ICC prosecutor. The prosecutor, who is based in The Hague, would have the final say regarding whether to move forward.

Some of the lawyers’ efforts will be directed towards identifying the perpetrators, in particular, to call for the indictment of Putin, as happened in March, when the ICC issued a warrant for the Russian president’s arrest for overseeing the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia from territories occupied during the war.

Khan notes that one could argue for hunger-related crimes in the same way.

“Putin could bear responsibility for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others,” he said, as well as for his failure to exert proper control over Russian forces or other individuals who have been charged with specific criminal acts.


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