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German FM says ‘hole’ in law protects Russia – Reuters

Annalena Baerbock wants rules changed so West can judge Moscow for ‘aggression’ of Ukraine

There is a gap in international law that currently does not allow the West to sue Russia for “assault” against Ukraine, so a “new format” is necessary, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Monday. She made the comments in a speech to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, during a visit to the Netherlands.

“We talked about working with Ukraine and our partners on the idea of ​​creating a special tribunal for crimes of aggression against Ukraine,” Baerbock said, according to state broadcaster DW.

Such a body would be based on Ukrainian law, but could include international elements “outside Ukraine, with the financial support of partners and with international prosecutors and judges, so that impartiality and legitimacy are guaranteed”.

Baerbock said she discussed the idea with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmitry Kuleba last week, describing the proposal as “not ideal, not even for me” but saying it was necessary “because international law currently has a hole in it.”

Elaborating on Baerbock’s speech, the German Foreign Office later tweeted that international law “has a lack of accountability for the crime of aggression.” They called for amending the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the ICC – to allow aggression to continue when only the victim state falls within the court’s jurisdiction.

While the ICC can try to investigate and prosecute alleged atrocities in Ukraine, neither Moscow nor Kyiv have ever ratified the Rome Statute to recognize its jurisdiction. Ukraine has since given “special dispensation” to the ICC to prosecute war crimes on its territory, per DW.

The government in kyiv has called for bringing Russian leaders to justice for war crimes as one of the prerequisites for any peace talks. Moscow has rejected demands such as “absurdity” and said that such a tribunal would be wholly illegitimate,

The ICC was modeled after the ad hoc tribunal for war crimes in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which relied on NATO countries to fund its investigations and trials and enforce its verdicts. In 2002, before the Rome Statute came into force, the US Congress passed a law prohibiting any American from cooperating with the ICC or extraditing US citizens for trial. The American Service-Members’ Protection Act (also known as The Hague Invasion Act), also authorized “all necessary and appropriate means” to release all detained Americans – or their allies – from the ICC.

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