The United States, European Union and the United Kingdom have established an Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) for analyzing alleged war crimes in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday
WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 25th May, 2022) The United States, European Union and the United Kingdom have established an Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA) for analyzing alleged war crimes in Ukraine, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday.
"This joint initiative will directly support the efforts of the War Crimes Units of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPG) to document, preserve and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed in Ukraine, with a view toward criminal prosecutions," Blinken said in a statement. "As we launch this initiative, the Department of State will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice and other partners to support the pursuit of justice and accountability."
Blinken said the creation of ACA will provide strategic advice and operational assistance to the War Crimes Units of the Office of the Prosecutor General.
"Although the United States and our partners are supporting a range of international efforts to pursue accountability for atrocities, the OPG will play a crucial role in ensuring that those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities are held accountable," Blinken said. "The ACA is an essential element of the United States' commitment that those responsible for such crimes will be held to account."
Blinken noted that assistance for ACA includes expanded funding for the work of a multi-national team of international prosecutors and other war crimes experts who are already in the region.
"This interdisciplinary team is providing strategic advice and operational assistance in areas such as collection and preservation of evidence, military analysis, investigation of conflict-related sexual violence, and co-operation with international and national accountability mechanisms. In this regard, the ACA will liaise with the Department of Justice as it pursues accountability in US courts," he said.
In a joint statement issued with the European Union and the United Kingdom, the United States emphasized that ACA aims to "streamline coordination and communication efforts to ensure best practices, avoid duplication of efforts, and encourage the expeditious deployment of financial resources and skilled personnel to respond to the needs of the OPG as the legally constituted authority in Ukraine responsible for dealing with the prosecution of war crimes on its own territory."
The joint statement also revealed ACA will include a multi-national group of war crimes experts from the United States, the United Kingdom and EU member states as well as from other nations. The statement noted that because of the security situation in Ukraine, the experts are primarily based in south-eastern Poland, but will conduct short-term missions and on-site interaction with the OPG staff and other international partners.
The joint statement pointed out that once the security conditions allow, experts and support staff are anticipated to relocate to Ukraine full time.
�The ACA activity will cover�coordination�of two key elements:� Advisory Group to the OPG and experienced senior war crimes prosecutors, investigators, military analysts, forensic specialists, and other experts based in the region. They will provide expertise, mentoring, advice and operational support to the OPG and to the field-level mobile Justice Teams (MJT), as well as a wider range of state and non-state actors, the statement said.
The MJTs are being created and deployed to increase the capacity of the OPG War Crimes Unit and regional prosecutors to conduct field investigations, the statement also said.
"The MJTs will be composed of both international and Ukrainian experts and will be deployed at the request of the OPG to assist Ukraine's investigators on the ground. They will be part of the holistic chain for documentation, investigation and prosecution of grave international crimes that is led by the OPG," the statement added.
Russia has repeatedly said that Ukrainian troops torture and maim captured Russian soldiers and intelligence officers. In March, a footage of Ukrainians mistreating Russian soldiers appeared on the internet, including one showing them being shot in the legs and left to bleed.
Russia's Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin has ordered investigations into all circumstances of mistreatment and executing of Russian soldiers in Ukraine while the head of the Russian National Defense Control Center, Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev, who also leads Russia's humanitarian response coordination headquarters, said international organizations are ignoring Ukraine's war crimes against its citizens.
On February 24, Russia launched a special military operation in Ukraine after the Donetsk and Lugansk people's republics requested help to defend them from intensifying attacks by Ukrainian troops. Russia has said the special operation aims to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine and operations solely target the country's military infrastructure and the civilian population is not in danger.