Today, the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom announced the creation of the Advisory Group on Atrocity Crimes (ACA), a mechanism to ensure effective coordination of their respective support to accountability efforts on field. The ACA will reinforce ongoing EU, US and UK efforts to strengthen accountability for atrocity crimes in the context of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. It advances the commitments made by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom to show international support and solidarity at this crucial historic moment for Ukraine.
The main mission of the ACA is to support the war crimes units of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine (OPG) in their investigation and prosecution of crimes related to the conflict. The ACA seeks to streamline coordination and communication efforts to ensure best practices, avoid duplication of effort, and encourage the rapid deployment of financial resources and qualified personnel to meet OPG’s needs as a legally binding authority. incorporated in Ukraine to deal with the prosecution of war crimes on its own territory.
High Representative of the EU/Vice-President joseph Borrel said: “It is essential to ensure that all those responsible for the terrible atrocities committed during the unprovoked Russian military aggression in Ukraine are brought to justice. There can be no impunity for war crimes. The Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group will provide advice and support the ongoing efforts of the War Crimes Units of the Attorney General of Ukraine to collect, preserve and analyze evidence of atrocity crimes to aid investigations and ensure that justice takes its course.
US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said: “This initiative will directly support the efforts of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office to document, preserve and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed by members of the Russian forces in Ukraine, in preparation for criminal prosecution. The ACA is an essential part of the United States’ commitment to holding those responsible for such crimes accountable.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are determined to hold those responsible for the atrocities committed in Ukraine to account. The UK has already made a clear commitment to support Ukraine in its investigations, including deploying war crimes experts to the region and providing additional funding to help the ICC with its investigations. We are now stepping up our efforts through this historic initiative with our partners in the US and EU. Justice will be done.”
Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Iryna Venediktova mentioned: “There is ample evidence of atrocities committed by Russian forces on Ukrainian territory against civilians, including children. The establishment of this support group and the advice of international experts with experience in other international criminal tribunals and national criminal law practice will assist the ongoing work of our teams in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. .
ACA will bring together multinational experts to provide strategic advice and operational assistance to OPG specialists and other stakeholders in areas such as evidence collection and preservation, operational analysis, conflict-related sexual violence, crime scenes and forensic investigations, drafting of indictments. and cooperation with international and national accountability mechanisms. This engagement with OPG and other justice, law enforcement and security agencies of Ukraine has been and will continue to be driven by the needs of the Government of Ukraine and the parameters of its support will be developed in close consultation with OPG. To this end, it will closely link its activities to ongoing operational work in cooperation with EU Member States, third country partners and the International Criminal Court, including the Joint Investigation Team coordinated by Eurojust.
The ACA brings together a multinational group of war crimes experts from countries in the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries. Due to the current security situation in Ukraine, the experts are mainly based in south-eastern Poland, but are operationally engaged in Ukraine, including through short-term assignments and on-site interactions with OPG staff and other committed international partners. If the security situation permits, it is expected that experts and support staff will be fully transferred to Ukraine.
The ACA activity will cover the coordination of two key elements:
- OPG Advisory Group: Experienced war crimes prosecutors, investigators, military analysts, forensic specialists and other experts based in the region provide ongoing expertise, mentorship, advice and operational support to OPG and mobile justice teams on the ground, as well as a wider range of state and non-state actors.
- Mobile court teams: Several Mobile Justice Teams (MJTs) are created and deployed to increase the capacity of OPG’s War Crimes Unit and regional prosecutors to conduct investigations in the field. The MJTs will be made up of international and Ukrainian experts and will be deployed at the request of OPG to assist Ukrainian investigators in the field. They will be part of the holistic chain of documentation, investigation and prosecution of serious international crimes led by the OPG.
The ACA is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) and the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). ACA partners include the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University, Global Rights Compliance, and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). On the EU side, coordination will be ensured by the European External Action Service (EEAS), through the EU Delegation to Ukraine, in coordination with the European Commission, the European project Pravo- Justice II and the EU Advisory Mission to Ukraine (EUAM). The UK contribution will be coordinated by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and other relevant UK government departments.
The ACA is an operational center that coordinates assistance in response to the technical and legal needs of the Ukrainian government to hold perpetrators of international crimes to account. It is an essential component of a broader multilateral effort to support Ukraine.