US orders transfer of evidence of Russian war crimes to international court

US orders transfer of evidence of Russian war crimes to international court

Lawmakers confirm Biden has overridden Pentagon opposition to supply ICC with information

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) - US President Joe Biden signed off on the transfer of evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to bolster its ongoing investigation into alleged Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

The Pentagon previously counseled against going ahead with the decision because of concerns that cooperation with the tribunal could lead the court to investigate the US or close international allies. A bipartisan pair of senators confirmed that Biden overrode the opposition, and has begun supplying the court with information.

Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham, the top Democrat and Republican, respectively, on the Senate Judiciary Committee, lauded Biden's decision, saying it is essential to ensuring accountability.

"For more than a year, the world has borne witness to the unspeakable horrors that Putin and his forces have inflicted on the Ukrainian people: bombing maternity wards, beheading prisoners, raping women, torturing and executing civilians, and abducting thousands of Ukrainian children," the lawmakers said in a statement Wednesday.

"After pressing the Administration for months, we are pleased that the Administration is finally supporting the ICC’S investigation. We will continue to work in the Senate to ensure those responsible for atrocities are held accountable, including by working to close the gap in U.S. law for crimes against humanity," they added.

Durbin and Graham have sent letters to Biden stressing their support for the ICC's probe, and the need for US cooperation.

The US remains a non-signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC in 1998, meaning it is not a member of the court. More than 120 nations have signed the agreement, although Washington has continued to hold out due to concerns that it could open the door to the prosecution of American forces.

When asked by Anadolu for confirmation on the decision, the White House said it is "not going to discuss the specifics on any cooperation, which is consistent with the Court’s practice of treating requests for cooperation in a confidential manner. But it emphasized Biden's support for accountability.

"We have been clear that we support a range of international mechanisms to identify and hold accountable those responsible, including through the Office of the Ukraine Prosecutor General, the Joint Investigative Team through Eurojust, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission, the Expert Missions established under the OSCE’s 'Moscow Mechanism,' and the International Criminal Court among others," a National Security Council spokesperson said in an email.

"We have deployed teams of international investigators and prosecutors to assist Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General in documenting, preserving, and preparing war crimes cases for prosecution, and the Department of Justice has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate with Ukraine on investigations and prosecutions of war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," it added.

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