Switzerland supports the International Criminal Court with forensic experts

Press releases, 18.12.2023

The conflict resulting from Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine continues. War crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights are suspected. The International Criminal Court (ICC), tasked to investigate the situation, relies on the assistance of the States Parties to the Rome Statute to gather evidence in Ukraine. Switzerland responded to the ICC's request for assistance and the dispatch of specialists.

The conflict resulting from Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is soon posed to enter its third year. The ongoing hostilities, attacks and occupation are accompanied by a mounting number of credible reports of international crimes committed in various places in Ukraine. Switzerland is gravely concerned by the situation and strongly condemns all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights. Suspected crimes need to be thoroughly investigated and, where confirmed, those responsible need to be brought to justice. This is why in March 2022 Switzerland, together with 42 other States, requested the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to start an investigation into the Situation in Ukraine.

The ICC, as an independent and impartial body, investigates, prosecutes and adjudicates within its jurisdiction serious crimes against international law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. It does so with regards to all credible allegations of international crimes within its jurisdiction, without regard to who, or which side allegedly committed them. Its jurisdiction is limited to the prosecution of individuals. In line with its fundamental values and foreign policy aims, Switzerland supports the ICC in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes.

In carrying out its mandate, the ICC relies on the support of its States Parties, including in the context of the investigation in Ukraine: In December 2022 the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor requested the assistance of Switzerland, asking for support and the dispatch of forensic experts. This request was reviewed and approved by the competent federal authorities at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). Their activities in Ukraine will, in accordance with the impartial mandate of the ICC, contribute to future investigations into alleged crimes, regardless of which side allegedly committed them. The aim of the deployment was to provide the ICC with information and evidence that can be used in court. The Prosecutor makes an independent and impartial assessment of the indications he pursues.

The deployment of individual experts to support the ICC's investigations in Ukraine was successfully completed last week. The operational command of the ICC was assisted by fedpol in close cooperation with other federal and cantonal authorities. The experts were recruited under the direction of the Disaster Victim Identification Team Switzerland.


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