Ukraine requests Swiss help on war crimes

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (centre) says her office has already opened some 21,000 cases of alleged war crimes. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The Swiss justice ministry has received several requests from Ukraine for help in investigating war crimes, reports the SonntagsBlick newspaper.

This content was published on July 17, 2022 - 12:30

A ministry spokesman told the paper that these requests were being examined. The government has not revealed any information about their content, but the paper says it’s likely that Ukraine wants to question Ukrainian refugees in Switzerland who are witnesses to war crimes in their country.

It is also possible, writes SonntagsBlick, that Ukraine suspects the presence of alleged perpetrators in Switzerland. In that case, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) could open its own case under international criminal law. No such proceedings are under way at present.

SonntagsBlick notes that Swiss police have already started taking testimonies from Ukrainian refugees who have witnessed war crimes and has set up a website to encourage them to come forward. War crimes efforts related to Ukraine are being coordinated by a taskforce, headed by Attorney General Stefan Blättler and with involvement of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Switzerland is also coordinating its efforts with other countries, notably through the European Union’s Eurojust agency in The Hague. Sonntagsblick says Attorney General Blättler travelled to The Hague in May and met with Prosecutor Karim Khan of the International Criminal Court, which is also investigating war crimes in Ukraine.

The reports of atrocities by Russian forces in Ukraine have clearly united European countries that have traditionally been reluctant to investigate international crimes, writes the paper. But such investigations are long and difficult and it may take years to identify perpetrators.

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