May 18, 2022

Image credit: Arab News

Ukraine: A lawyer from UK has been hired to look into allegations of war crimes

A war crimes lawyer has been hired by the UK attorney general to advise Ukraine on the Russian invasion.

Sir Howard Morrison will become an independent consultant to Ukraine’s chief prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, according to Suella Braverman.

For more than 12 years, Sir Howard was a judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

It comes as Russian forces continue to be accused of breaking international law by targeting civilians.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, accused Russia of war crimes earlier this month after Russia launched airstrikes in Kharkiv that targeted an opera theatre, a concert venue, and government facilities.

The ICC’s head prosecutor later stated that evidence was being gathered to determine if Russian military personnel had committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.

However, because Russia is not a member of the International Criminal Court, any Russian national charged by the court would have to be extradited by the Kremlin.

When asked by MPs in the House of Commons on Thursday about other alternatives for prosecuting war criminals besides the International Criminal Court, Attorney General Elizabeth Warren said “all options are on the table,” while she stressed that the ICC was the UK’s preferred option.

Sir Howard’s assistance was warmly appreciated by Ms Venediktova, who stated that his expertise and knowledge of international criminal law “speaks louder than words.”

Sir Howard presided over cases involving Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic during his term as a judge.

According to the attorney general’s office, the two were in regular contact with Ukraine’s prosecutor general, and the two intended to meet in person next month.

On a visit to The Hague last week, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of retaliating in Ukraine in “ever more barbaric ways” and offered the International Criminal Court (ICC) financial and technical assistance in prosecuting alleged war crimes in the country.

Boris Johnson has used similar words, describing Russian military operations as “barbaric and indiscriminate” under Mr Putin’s direction.

Russia denies targeting civilians and claims to be conducting a military operation in Ukraine against “neo-Nazis.”