Austria to Support Prosecution of Alleged War Crimes in Ukraine

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: June 8, 2022; 23:37 ♦ (Vindobona)

All parliamentary groups in the Human Rights Committee adopted a resolution calling for an investigation and prosecution of alleged war crimes committed by Russia during its aggression against Ukraine.

A bombed apartment building in Mariupol, Ukraine. / Picture: © / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International, , via Wikimedia Commons

A resolution by the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP) and the Greens calling for the swift investigation and prosecution of alleged war crimes in the course of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine was approved today by all parliamentary groups in the Human Rights Committee.

According to the motion, Austria should work at the international and European level to ensure that evidence of war crimes and human rights violations can be systematically evaluated and criminal proceedings can be carried out quickly.

War crimes and crimes against humanity as particularly serious violations of international law in connection with the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine are pointed out by Ewa Ernst-Dziedzic (Greens) and Gudrun Kugler (ÖVP) in a joint motion for a resolution.

Austria should therefore promote the cooperation of the various actors at the international and European level with the competent authorities at the national level, so that evidence can be systematically evaluated and speedy conduct of criminal proceedings is made possible.

The applicants refer, for example, to the OSCE Expert Report, according to which the OSCE Mission to Ukraine found clear patterns of violations of international humanitarian law by Russian forces in the conduct of the war.

For example, there were observations of atrocities against the civilian population, attacks on schools and hospitals, and systematic rape.

Because of these alleged war crimes, it is necessary to collect evidence quickly, systematically, and efficiently, as well as to launch independent, international investigations that will contribute to an objective clarification of what happened, the demand said.

According to Ukraine's Prosecutor General, there are some 15,000 cases of alleged war crimes, including airstrikes on civilians and the Mariupol maternity hospital, mass rapes and the hanging of women, Kugler (ÖVP) said.The instrument of the International Criminal Court to hold individuals accountable for violations of international humanitarian law should be used precisely in the case of Ukraine, he said.

Ernst-Dziedzic (Greens) added that the motion aimed at a clear stance of Austria on compliance with international law and strengthening of international criminal jurisdiction.

Martin Graf, a member of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), spoke of a balanced motion, especially since in his view it was about punishing all human rights violations in the form of war crimes, regardless of which side committed them.

To advance the investigation of the war crimes allegedly committed in Ukraine, Austria supports the International Criminal Court with an expert and provides € 100,000. Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg informed the parliament about this step in response to a question from Petra Bayr (SPÖ) and Nikolaus Scherak (NEOS).

The data material that the Court has to process is becoming more and more extensive. Schallenberg assumes that there would be several arrest warrants against Russian actors.

Austrian Parliament