International court, EU agency publish evidence-gathering guidelines

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (TNZT) — The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Eurojust have issued a set of guidelines for non-governmental organizations collecting evidence of atrocities in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

“With the war in Ukraine, peace and justice are under the greatest pressure, and accountability for serious international crimes and violations of human rights is more essential than ever for international criminal law,” Eurojust President Ladislav Hamran said in a statement on Wednesday.

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He said the guidelines “will be an important building block in the efforts of authorities and civil society organizations to collect and preserve information and evidence that may become admissible in court.”

They include advice on approaching and questioning vulnerable witnesses, handling documents, digital information and items that could constitute evidence, as well as storing, analyzing and keeping the information and potential evidence safe.

Accusations of atrocities committed by Russian troops fighting in Ukraine’s nearly seven-month-long war have resurfaced in recent days as Ukrainian forces recaptured parts of their land and uncovered mass graves and possible torture sites.

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International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan has opened an investigation in Ukraine and sent teams to collect evidence. Other countries also support research efforts by sending experts. The prosecutor has not yet released any charges related to the conflict.

In March, Eurojust helped set up a joint investigation team with Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. The ICC prosecutor also agreed to join the team and in May it was expanded when Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia joined.

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Khan said NGOs are “critical partners in our common goal of accountability for international crimes. Now more than ever, we must work together to strengthen our common work for justice.”

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Follow the TNZT’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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