International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan on Friday (25 February) expressed his concern over the Russian invasion of Ukraine and said his court may investigate possible war crimes in the country.
“I have been closely following recent developments in and around Ukraine with increasing concern,” Khan said in a statement.
“I remind all sides conducting hostilities on the territory of Ukraine that my office may exercise its jurisdiction and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within Ukraine.”
Following the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the subsequent fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces, Ukraine accepted ICC jurisdiction for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on its territory since February 2014.
In December 2020, the office of the prosecutor announced it had reason to believe war crimes and other crimes were committed during the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The preliminary examination was closed, but a formal request to judges to open a full investigation has not been filed yet. Judges must agree before an investigation can be opened.
In December last year, Khan said there was no update on the case when asked about progress of the examination.
Russia is not a member of the ICC and has opposed the ICC case.
However, the court can investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Ukraine regardless of the nationality of the alleged perpetrators.