Legal human rights heavyweights join war crimes hunt

The Law Society Gazette (UK)

Some of the world’s leading international human rights lawyers, including several from the UK, have joined a legal task force set up by the government of Ukraine to investigate crimes allegedly committed by Russian forces.

Among the task force members announced today are former Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and Baroness Kennedy, director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute. Experts from US firm Covington & Burling, led by Nikhil Gore, French firm Sygna Partners, led by Luke Vidal, as well as international firm Withers, led by Emma Lindsay, have also joined, the Ukraine government said. The firms are already representing Ukraine, including at the International Court of Justice.


Lord Neuberger is among the task force members announced today

Source: Paul Grover/Rex Features

The remit of the Legal Task Force on Accountability for Crimes Committed in Ukraine will encompass advice on proposals for accountability including through the United Nations and regional organisations; advice and potential representation relating to civil and criminal cases (including under universal jurisdiction laws) to secure accountability and reparations in national jurisdictions; and strategic guidance on Ukraine’s cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

All members of the task force and the supporting lawyers and academics will carry out their work pro bono.

Kennedy said: ‘It is an honour to be of service to the government of Ukraine and its people. The task force is determined to ensure that no impunity is granted for the blatant violations of international law committed by Russia. It is crucial that perpetrators are brought to justice, and victims receive the reparations they deserve. There can be no peace without justice.’

Neuberger said: ‘We must try and ensure that the rule of law prevails and that those responsible for any crimes suffered by the Ukrainian people are made accountable.’

Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said: ‘We are grateful to this esteemed group for their support for Ukraine. Their assistance and guidance will be invaluable in the process of securing justice for Ukrainian victims and rebuilding our state.’