Ukrainian investigators, prosecutors and judges to visit The HaguePublished 30 October 2023
In November, the Asser Institute will welcome two groups of Ukrainian investigators, prosecutors and judges for exchange meetings and study visits. The groups will meet with international legal experts and visit relevant organisations in The Hague to gain international legal expertise.
The exchange meetings are part of the MATRA-Ukraine project, a joint initiative of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and Global Rights Compliance (GRC), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The objective of this project is to enhance the capacity of criminal justice actors and other experts in Ukraine to investigate, prosecute, adjudicate, monitor and report on international crimes, by providing them with technical and strategic expertise.
In October, two other exchange meetings with Ukrainian judges, prosecutors and investigators were held at the Asser Institute’s premises in The Hague. The meetings provided a forum for in-depth conversations about the main obstacles to accountability for the international crimes committed against Ukraine during the ongoing armed conflict with Russia.
The exchange meetings were part of study visits organised by the European Union Advisory Mission in Ukraine (EUAM) and international development agency USAID. The meetings further gave Asser and GRC a chance to talk about and share the most important results of the MATRA-Ukraine project, and to start conversations about how they can best support the participants in the future.
The first study visit for Ukrainian investigators and prosecutors was organised by EUAM. During this session, Prachiti Venkatraman from GRC discussed the practical relevance of the ‘Basic Investigative Standards for Documenting International Crimes in Ukraine’ (BIS-Ukraine) - a unique toolkit aimed at supporting the work of civil society organisations, human rights defenders and other practitioners documenting international crimes in Ukraine. The BIS-Ukraine Manual will also be forthcoming as a mobile app. Several participants emphasised the value of the contributions made by the Asser Institute and GRC over the past years, acknowledging the role these efforts have played in supporting the pursuit of justice and accountability in Ukraine.
The impact of shelling
The second exchange meeting, organised by USAID featured interactive sessions for Ukrainian judges. Jitske Hoogenboom and Erin Bijl from Dutch peace organisation PAX discussed the short and long-term impact of shelling on civilians, and PAX’s role in Ukraine. Valérie Gabard from the Hague-based non-profit initiative Uprights shed light on the different war crimes that can be committed during the conduct of hostilities, such as directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects, as well as launching disproportionate attacks. GRC‘s Rebecca Bakos Blumenthal, gave a presentation on the links between attacks on critical infrastructure and on objects indispensable to the survival of civilians, addressing the war crime of starvation and its relevance for the Ukrainian context.
Strengthening Ukraine’s capacity to investigate and prosecute international crimes
The MATRA project ''Strengthening Ukraine’s Capacity to Investigate and Prosecute International Crimes" is a joint initiative of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and Global Rights Compliance. Alongside supporting the Office of the Prosecutor General, the project delivers vital technical and strategic expertise to other criminal justice entities, such as judges and lawyers, civil society organisations and journalists. Read more.
Launch of the 'Benchbook on the adjudication of international crimes under Ukrainian domestic law'
In June 2023, Global Rights Compliance presented the 'Benchbook on the Adjudication of International Crimes under Ukrainian Domestic Law'. The Benchbook is a compilation of relevant international legal sources, including international treaties, judicial decisions and academic commentaries. By evaluating their applicability at the domestic level, the authors of the Benchbook aim to assist Ukrainian judges in the interpretation and application of the relevant domestic offenses. The Benchbook is available in English and Ukrainian. Read more.
First of its kind basic investigative standards for documenting international crimes in Ukraine
On 23 May, the EU day against impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, Global Rights Compliance launched the ‘Basic Investigative Standards for Documenting International Crimes in Ukraine’ (BIS-Ukraine) - a unique toolkit aimed at supporting the work of civil society organisations, human rights defenders and other practitioners documenting international crimes in Ukraine. Read more.
Exchange meeting focused on conflict-related crimes against children in Ukraine
On Monday and Tuesday 7 and 8 June, an international exchange meeting took place with Ms Yuliia Usenko, the Head of the Department for the Protection of Children’s Rights from the Ukrainian Office of the Prosecutor-General, in The Hague. During the exchange meeting stakeholders discussed conflict-related crimes against children in Ukraine and strategies to enhance the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict. Read more.
Adjudicating international crimes: Ukrainian judges visiting the Netherlands
A group of Ukrainian judges visited the Netherlands, as part of the MATRA-Ukraine project. The judges, hosted by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and USAID, met with national and international judges, practitioners and policymakers. They visited, amongst others, the Dutch Bureau of the Council for the Judiciary, the Dutch Supreme Court, the International Criminal Court, Eurojust, the Ukrainian Embassy in The Hague, and the T.M.C. Asser Instituut. Read more.