On February 25, 2014 the Parliament of Ukraine issued a special declaration requesting the International Criminal Court (the ICC) to exercise its jurisdiction and hold ex-president Viktor Yanukovych and other high-ranking officials liable for the events that had happened during the Euromaidan in Kyiv.
Since as far as November 30, 2013 almost a hundred peaceful protesters (now referred to as “the Heaven’s Hundred” for their heroic sacrifice) were shot or beaten to death by the internal armed forces and special unit “Berkut”, and thousands were injured during the clashes in Kyiv.Later that day, the ICC responded to Ukraine’s declaration stating that only the ICC Prosecutor may initiate and investigation with regard to specific individuals. It also followed that, in any event, Ukraine is not a party to Rome Statute – the Statute under which the ICC was established – and thus the ICC does not have jurisdiction to try Yanukovych and his conspirators.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) states that only the ICC Prosecutor can make a decision on initiating an investigation. The ICC informed “Interfax-Ukraine” on this issue on Tuesday,February 25, in response to a written request regarding the petition to the ICC adopted by the Verkhovna Rada.
Earlier, the Verkhovna Rada asked to confirm the identity and bring to justice senior state officials of Ukraine, including Viktor Yanukovych, for crimes against humanity during the peaceful protests of citizens from 30 November 2013 to 22 February 2014 .
The petition also mentioned the names of former Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka and former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko.
The ICC reported that at the time they did not yet receive any notifications from Ukraine.
However, the Court pointed out that currently they “have no jurisdiction over Ukraine because it is not a state party to the Rome Statute that founded the Court .”
“The State can make a decision to ratify the Rome Statute, in which case the Court may exercise its jurisdiction only with respect to crimes committed after the entry into force of this Statute for the State,” – the response states.
“Also, in accordance with Article 12-3 of the Statute the State may, by declaration lodged with the Registrar, accept the exercise of jurisdiction by the Court with respect to the crime in question, as well as to those relating to past events .”
In any scenario, the ICC Prosecutor shall conclude whether there is a reasonable basis to commence an investigation, ” the ICC stated.
Moreover, the ICC noted that if an investigation is initiated, “the ICC Prosecutor shall determine, based on the facts and evidence collected, persons in respect of whom the ICC judges will request subpoenas or arrest warrants.”
“It is important to emphasize that the State cannot request that the ICC prosecute specific persons ” the ICC emphasized.
Back in 2000 Ukraine has signed the Rome Statute, but still has not ratified it. The reasoning for non-ratification was a year later by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, which stated that certain provisions of the Rome Statute were inconsistent with the Constitution of Ukraine. Should the ICC Prosecutor find the grounds for initiation of an investigation towards Viktor Yanukovych, he might be hold liable for murder as a crime against humanity (i.e., an attack directed against any civilian population committed numerously). Earlier on February 25, Pechersk district court of Kyiv issued a court order for arrest of Viktor Yanukovych charging him with murder under Ukrainian criminal law.