According to the envoy of President Biden for global criminal justice, it is only a matter time before Vladimir Putin is tried for war crimes.
Sky News spoke with ambassador Beth Van Schaack, who said that a global coalition made up of international lawyers and nations is building a case against Russia . This leads to the top.
She stated that “We must connect the crimes we see on the ground, which we have very clear digital proof of, with those in command and control.”
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“So, climb the chain of command; who authorized these offenses?” They were allowed to be committed by who?
“Who failed to investigate and prosecute those most responsible?” Who failed to supervise their subordinates properly?
As the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution calling to achieve a just, comprehensive, and lasting peace, the quest for justice was reaffirmed.
Some 141 members of the UN called on Russia to leave Ukraine, and for accountability for war crime.
Only six countries – Belarus and Eritrea, Mali Nicaragua, Mali, North Korea, Eritrea and Mali – voted against the resolution.
China, India and Iran were among 32 countries that abstained.
Although the vote isn’t binding, it does show that there has been a global effort to stop Russian aggression over the past year.
Sky News was told by a Western diplomat source that “despite Russia’s attempts to confuse and distract people and strong-arm them, the international support for Ukraine remains rock solid”
Not surprisingly, Sergei Lavrov’s attempt to win support in Africa through a recent visit of countries there by the Russian foreign minister didn’t succeed.
They voted with Russia, except for Mali and Eritrea.
Putin at the dock
When asked how likely it was that President Putin will face a courtroom, Ambassador Van Schaack said to Sky News: “Well Augusto Pinochet and Slobodan Milosevic, Hissene habre of Chad?”
“I don’t believe any of these men ever thought they would see the inside of courtrooms and all of them did.” We need to play a long game.
Antony Blinken (America’s secretary-of-state) announced earlier this month that the US believes Russia has committed crimes against humanity.
Mr Blinken stated that Russian forces had executed-style killed Ukrainian men, women, and children. They also tortured civilians by beatings, electrocution, mock executions, and rape. Along with other Russian officials, they have sent hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians to Russia. This includes children who were forcibly removed from their families.
He said, “These acts were not random or spontaneous; they are part and parcel of the Kremlin’s widespread attack against Ukraine’s civil population.”
Ambassador Van Schaack spoke out about the abundance of digital evidence used to make a case against Russia.
She said that she had seen satellite imagery, as well as other imagery taken from ordinary CCTV cameras. “We have seen bodies with their hands tied behind their backs; this is clear evidence of torture or summary execution-style murders.”
She added that ordinary civilians are now capable of documenting war crimes committed around them by holding their phone.
“The problem is that there’s too much data and it can be difficult to sort through all the digital information to find the most relevant evidence.
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The shadow of Iraq – Avenues for justice
There are many ways to bring down Vladimir Putin, his inner circle, and those in his military hierarchy.
One is a Ukrainian prosecutor general who investigates domestic cases with the support of the international community.
Another option is The International Criminal Court at The Hague.
International courts could also be involved.
Many European countries have formed joint investigative teams to exchange information about potential abuses and possible responsible persons.
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The President of Ukraine Zelenskyy seeks a mechanism that will allow him to prosecute an individual case of the crime.
Ambassador Van Schaack stated: “This is a very high priority for Ukraine because they see the initial act of aggression, as the original sin, that unleashed all the war crimes and atrocities we’re witnessing around the country.”
This is a tricky avenue for the US.
Many countries considered it illegal to invade Iraq in 2003 without the approval of United Nations. They claim that it was an American-led act.
Ambassador Van Schaack claims it is “a false equivalent”.
She stated that Putin’s invasion invading Ukraine was a violation of the UN Charter.
“And it was accompanied by war crime everywhere. This case is a matter of urgency and the world is becoming more united in its pursuit of justice.