Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says Canada wants the International Criminal Court to speed up its investigation into Russia for possible war crimes because of its invasion of Ukraine.
Joly announced Canada’s intent in Geneva Tuesday after she and other Western officials walked out in the middle of the address by their Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
On Monday, ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan issued a statement saying he had decided to open an investigation because he found there was a reasonable basis to believe war crimes and alleged crimes against humanity have been committed in Ukraine.
Joly’s announcement could speed up the pace of an ICC investigation.
Khan said that because Ukraine is not a party to the Rome Statute that governs the court it “cannot itself refer the situation” to his office. He noted Ukraine has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction in the past “over alleged crimes under the Rome Statute occurring on its territory.”
“An alternative route set out in the statute that could further expedite matters would be for an ICC state party to refer the situation to my office, which would allow us to actively and immediately proceed with the office’s independent and objective investigations,” said Khan.
Canada is a state party and founding member of the ICC and the Rome Statute.
“Today also Canada will petition the International Criminal Court of justice against Russia, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. And it was also important for us to show that we’re steadfast in terms of our support,” Joly said Tuesday in Geneva.
Joly said she and her fellow diplomats walked out on Lavrov to send a message to Russia over the invasion.
“Minister Lavrov was being broadcast and giving his version, which is false about what is happening in Ukraine,” said Joly.
Lavrov, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, have been sanctioned by Canada and their allies for their role in orchestrating what is described as an illegal attack on a sovereign country.
Joly was leaving Geneva and headed to Poland later Tuesday for meetings with her counterparts there to address the Ukrainian refugee exodus and oversee the delivery of Canadian military aid.
She is expected to travel to Poland’s Ukraine border later this week.
– Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press