Prosecution of War Crimes Addressed at Munich Security Conference

The civil society organization Austausch e.V. has been active in Ukraine for decades and was also active in Russia until its ban in 2021. Regarding Christoph Heusgen’s announcement to put the prosecution of Russian war crimes on the agenda of the Munich Security Conference, Stefan Melle, Executive Director of Austausch, states:

“We welcome the prosecution of Russian war crimes as a significant topic at the Munich Security Conference. The Russian aggression not only undermines international law, but the invaders also systematically commit fundamental human rights violations. These include targeted attacks on residential areas and critical infrastructure, severe violence against the civilian population, abductions, torture, and rape.

Tens of thousands of war crimes have already been committed in the course of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We seek justice for the injustices committed. Without concrete prosecution, the fates of thousands of people become mere statistics. We must restore the names of these individuals and address the injustices they have suffered. The international community must make it clear that violations of international law will not be tolerated and take all necessary steps to enable effective prosecution. This requires better financial and technical support for both the justice system and overstretched law enforcement agencies in Ukraine, as well as support for civil society, which is heavily involved in documenting war crimes. The International Criminal Court and national courts of European countries capable of handling cases under universal jurisdiction procedures should also contribute.

We share our demand internationally with many renowned human rights organizations and representatives of civil society. For the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP), a coalition of human rights organizations from OSCE member states including Austausch e.V., the prosecution of war crimes and violations of international law committed during the Russian aggression is a central concern. In the international platform CivilMPlus, which includes prominent representatives of civil society from Ukraine, Russia, and the EU, we advocate for the documentation of war crimes and call for the establishment of an international special tribunal.”

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