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PACE calls for the setting up of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal to hold to account perpetrators of the crime of aggression against Ukraine

Aleksander Pociej (Poland, EPP/CD)
©Council of Europe

“Appalled by the ongoing war of aggression waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine”, and “horrified by reports of atrocities against civilians allegedly committed by Russian troops”, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on all member and observer States of the Organisation to urgently set up an ad hoc international criminal tribunal, which should receive a mandate to "investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression allegedly committed by the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation”.

Such a tribunal should “apply the definition of the crime of aggression” as established in customary international law. Based in Strasbourg, in view of possible synergies with the European Court of Human Rights, it should “have the power to issue international arrest warrants and not be limited by State immunity or the immunity of heads of State and government and other State officials”.

The unanimously adopted resolution, based on the report prepared by Aleksander Pociej (Poland, EPP/CD), says the Assembly is appalled by widespread reports of the use of rape and torture as weapons of war, “both of which are recognised as war crimes in international criminal law”.

The grant by the President of the Russian Federation on 18 April 2022 of an honorary title to the 64th motorised infantry brigade, which was posted in Bucha at the time of the reported atrocities, “sends a devastating message to the victims’ families and cynically encourages Russian troops to continue committing similar actions, which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, with impunity”, the resolution underlines.

The Assembly therefore urged the international community to send a clear message to the contrary, “namely that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and possible genocide, will be held to account”. The same must apply to the perpetrators of the crime of aggression, namely the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation who are responsible for launching the ongoing war.

Member and observer States should support and co-operate with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and make use of universal jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute such crimes.