Liz Truss – 2022 Statement on Accountability for Atrocities in Ukraine

The statement made by Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, in the House of Commons on 20 April 2022.

The Government are appalled by the atrocities being committed in Ukraine by Russian forces, including the targeting of civilians, mass graves, and rape and sexual violence being used as weapons of war. We will hold the Putin regime accountable for its crimes.

The UK has been at the forefront of international efforts to ensure there is no impunity.

The UK led a group of 37 other states to refer the atrocities in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court—the largest group referral in the ICC’s history—now supported by 42 states. The ICC Prosecutor, Karim Khan QC, has jurisdiction to prosecute perpetrators for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. We are working with allies to provide the ICC with support for its investigation. We have provided £1 million additional funding to the ICC, together with technical assistance from military and police personnel.

We have worked with partners to establish a Commission of Inquiry through the UN Human Rights Council, and a fact finding Mission of Experts under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism. The OSCE Moscow Mechanism is a long-standing and well-established process to address human rights concerns within an OSCE country. The Mechanism has been in place since 1991 and was agreed by all OSCE participating states, including Russia. Investigations and reports are undertaken by independent experts that examine information from a range of sources.

The Moscow Mechanism report was published on 13 April and found credible evidence of Russian war crimes, from the torture, rape and killing of innocent civilians to the forced deportation of over 500,000 people.

Sir Howard Morrison QC was appointed by the Attorney General to support the Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova’s domestic investigations into war crimes.

The preservation and collection of evidence is vital. The UK is funding independent organisations to gather evidence of war crimes. The Metropolitan Police has set up an online reporting tool for witnesses, including refugees to submit evidence. I launched a £10 million Civil Society Fund to support organisations in Ukraine, including those helping women and girls and people affected by conflict-related sexual violence.

On 13 April, the Minister of State, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, jointly launched the Murad Code at the United Nations Security Council alongside Nobel Peace Prize Winner Nadia Murad and the Institute for International Criminal Investigations. The code is a vital step to ensure justice for survivors of sexual violence by setting global standards for the safe and effective gathering of evidence from survivors and witnesses, including in Ukraine.

Following the horrific images in Bucha and other towns, on 5 April under the UK’s presidency, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting with the UN Secretary General and Ukrainian President Zelensky. On 7 April the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.

We will continue to work with Ukraine, partners and international mechanisms in their investigations and to collect and preserve evidence of war crimes in Ukraine. Those responsible will be held to account.