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Ukrainian legal practitioners visit the Hague for high-level training in international criminal justice

International
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Ukrainian legal practitioners visit the Hague for high-level training in international criminal justice

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A delegation of Ukrainian legal professionals attends intensive training in The Hague to enhance skills and knowledge in international criminal justice, crucial for handling war crimes cases

In a significant initiative aimed at bolstering Ukraine's capacity in international criminal justice, a delegation comprising 25 Ukrainian legal practitioners recently participated in intensive training sessions held in The Hague. The visit, which took place from 11–14 June 2024, was organised by the International Bar Association (IBA) in collaboration with the Ukrainian Bar Association (UBA), under the project titled ‘Trial Monitoring in War Crimes Cases’. This project is part of the USAID Human Rights in Action Program, implemented by the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU).

The delegation included judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, officials from the Office of the Prosecutor General, and representatives from civil society organisations. They engaged in a series of comprehensive training activities aimed at deepening their understanding and expertise in handling international crimes proceedings within Ukraine's national legal framework.

Key Highlights:

  • Purpose and Objectives: The training aimed to strengthen Ukrainian legal professionals' capabilities in adjudicating war crimes cases effectively and in accordance with international standards.

  • Training Content: Participants explored various aspects of international criminal trials, including investigation techniques, prosecution strategies, fair trial rights, and the handling of trials in absentia. Special focus was given to the collection and use of open-source evidence and the intricacies of prosecuting genocide cases.

  • Institutions Visited: During the visit, participants had the opportunity to visit prominent international tribunals and institutions based in The Hague, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, Eurojust (EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation), and the Register of Damage caused by the Russian aggression against Ukraine. These visits provided firsthand insights into the operations of global judicial bodies and facilitated interactions with experts in the field.

  • Impact and Future Directions: The training not only enhanced participants' knowledge but also equipped them with practical skills crucial for ensuring justice and accountability in war crimes cases. The insights gained are expected to contribute significantly to ongoing efforts in Ukraine to address the legal challenges posed by the Russian aggression and the ensuing conflict.

Dr. Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA, emphasised the importance of such initiatives in strengthening national capacities for handling complex international crimes cases. He applauded the commitment of Ukrainian legal professionals to upholding justice and accountability in the face of significant challenges.

The training underscores the IBA’s ongoing support for Ukraine, including condemnation of the Russian invasion and collaborative efforts with local legal bodies to ensure accountability for war crimes. This includes the establishment of mechanisms such as the Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine and initiatives like the eyeWitness to Atrocities app.

Overall, the visit to The Hague marks a pivotal step in enhancing Ukraine's legal infrastructure and readiness to handle international criminal proceedings effectively, ensuring that justice is not only pursued but also upheld in practice.

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