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ICC Prosecutor announces deployment of forensics team to Ukraine

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ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan QC announces deployment of forensics and investigative team to Ukraine, welcomes strong cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands

I can confirm that today my Office has deployed a team of 42 investigators, forensic experts and support personnel to Ukraine to advance our investigations into crimes falling into the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) and provide support to Ukrainian national authorities. This represents the largest ever single field deployment by my Office since its establishment.

I wish to express my sincere appreciation to the Government of the Netherlands whose strong cooperation in recent weeks has facilitated the secondment of a significant number of Dutch national experts to my Office in support of this mission. This collaboration will significantly enhance the impact of our forensic and investigative actions on the ground. In real terms, it will allow us to collect more testimonial accounts, support the identification of relevant forensic and digital materials and ensure that information and evidence is collected in a manner that strengthens its admissibility in future proceedings before the ICC.

During this mission, my Office will focus on a set of core objectives aimed at accelerating our independent investigations and strengthening synergy of investigative action with national authorities on the ground in Ukraine. Through the deployment of a team of investigators, we will further expand lead development and collect testimonial accounts relevant to military attacks that may constitute Rome Statute crimes. Through close cooperation with the Ukrainian authorities, our forensic experts will map the existing action of national crime scene investigators in order to trace workflows and strengthen chain of custody with respect to hard evidence.

It is essential that the work of all actors seeking to support accountability efforts in Ukraine benefit from effective coordination and communication. In doing so, we will significantly strengthen the impact of our collective work in establishing the truth. Reflecting this, the team deployed by my Office today will also engage with a team of French forensic experts on the ground in Ukraine in order to ensure continuity and continuation of their work with respect to the identification of remains, ballistics analysis and the storage and preservation of forensic evidence. We will also be engaging with teams deployed by other States in Ukraine in order to comprehensively map existing activities and strengthen coordination across all actors. It is my intention to ensure that this collaborative work is then continued through the consistent presence of my Office on the ground.

Since taking up the position of Prosecutor in June last year, I have emphasised that the work of my Office will be founded on the principles of partnership, creativity and of bringing our work closer to those impacted by Rome Statute crimes. The deployment of this team today, supported through excellent cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands and Ukrainian national authorities, represents a model of how these principles can be converted into concrete action. 

These principles are also being implemented across the situations addressed by my Office.  Following our issuance of a Note Verbale on 7 March 2022 requesting support from States Parties, I can confirm that 21 States have now indicated their willingness to second national experts in support of the work of the Office, while 20 States have committed to provide financial contributions. As I have also recently outlined to the United Nations Security Council in my most recent report on the Situation in Libya, I believe that this injection of support will have a tangible impact, multiplying the effectiveness of our activities in all situations addressed by my Office.

Now more than ever we need to show the law in action.  It is essential that we demonstrate to survivors and the families of victims that international law is relevant to their experience, that the ideals of the Rome Statute can be applied meaningfully in order to bring them some measure of solace through the process of justice.

Today represents an example of how we can convert this imperative into results. I look forward to working with all actors, including survivor groups, national authorities, civil society organisations and international partners in order to accelerate this collective work moving forward.

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