On House committee: US backs special Russia tribunal

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives (lower house) passed a resolution supporting the creation of a special tribunal for Russian crimes in Ukraine.

The resolution was registered for the first time in the House of Representatives on January 31 of this year.

According to its text, “Russia’s unprecedented full-scale invasion of Ukraine has reached a critical point, requiring immediate and decisive action by the international community.”

One of the possible steps towards the establishment of a special tribunal includes an agreement between Ukraine and the UN after a vote in the UN General Assembly, the document states.

The resolution, endorsed by the foreign affairs committee on May 16, called on US President Joe Biden to “take all available measures” to support the creation of a special tribunal. US State Department Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaak said in late March that the US supports the creation of a hybrid tribunal.

This system would include “the integration of professionals, judges, prosecutors, investigators, lawyers or by providing expert assistance at the request of Ukraine.”

In his speech in The Hague on May 4, Zelensky said that the world “should not refer to the shortcomings of current international law, but take bold decisions” to correct them in order to obtain “full” justice. He pointed to the Nuremberg Trials as a precedent.

In February 2023, Jennifer Trahan, a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, expressed concern that a tribunal lacking full international scope could impede the prosecution of those responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.

Trahan cites numerous factors to support his argument, including the weight of decisions issued by an international tribunal compared to a non-international one. In addition, she noted that the Criminal Code of Ukraine imposes relatively light sentences of 7 to 15 years in prison for crimes related to aggression.


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