AUTHOR: Vira Pylypyuk
Ukraine signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute) on January 20, 2000. It was then that the ratification process began; however, it stalled in June 2001 when the provisions of the Rome Statute were found to be in contravention of state laws. Pursuant to the Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine on July 2, 2001 the Rome Statute (para 10 of Preamble and Article 1) according to which the Court shall be complimentary to national criminal jurisdictions, contradicts Article 124 (1)(3) of the Constitution of Ukraine. Therefore the ratification can only be possible following a change in the Constitution.
Moreover, Ukraine must also review its national laws and make any necessary changes to ensure that it can perform its primary role of investigating and prosecuting those guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as cooperate fully with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
On May 14, 2014 the Draft Law No. 4873 on the amendment of Article 124 of the Constitution of Ukraine was registered in the parliament of Ukraine. Accordingly, Article 124 of the Constitution of Ukraine shall be amended by adding: “Ukraine can recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court under the conditions stipulated by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.” Currently, the Draft Law under review by the Committees of Verkhovna Rada.
This a great sign, as after this Law has passed, the ratification of the Rome Statute shall follow. Should this happen, it will be a breakthrough as the 13-year ratification process will be over. Ukraine will immediately order investigations into crimes against humanity, committed by the former president this February as Ukraine has already sent a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) with a view to bringing Viktor Yanukovych and other Ukrainian top officials to responsibility for their crimes against humanity which brought about the gravest of consequences; indiscriminate killing of Ukrainian citizens from November 21, 2013 to February 22, 2014.
Ukraine is also seeking the tribunal’s investigation into the war crimes committed in late February and March by Russian military in the Republic of Crimea, unrecognised by Ukraine, namely the taking of hostages, elimination of combat equipment and blockading of military units.
The steps taken towards Ukraine’s ratification of the Rome Statute was made possible through the hard work and effort put in by a number of EuroMaidan activists and local and international NGOs.