Attorney General Says Retired British Judges Could Be Sent To Ukraine To Help Prosecute Russian War Criminals
Exclusive: The Attorney General, Suella Braverman, has said she is "keen" to look into sending retired UK judges to Ukraine to help with war crimes trials as the conflict with Russia rages on.
Speaking at a private briefing with Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Iryna Venediktova, Braverman said the UK has a “whole load of resources we can tap in to” assist Ukrainian efforts in bringing war criminals to justice, including the expertise of retired judges.
"We’re very keen to look at that, we’ve got all those resources," the Attorney General said.
Venediktova is on a two-day visit to London where she has engaged in meetings with MPs and ministers, including Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, over how the UK can further help investigations.
“We trained our prosecutors before the bombs in war crimes but unfortunately we didn’t train our judges how to judge war crimes and military crimes,” Venediktova told a small audience of Ministry of Justice civil servants and MPs.
“It is for important for us we should do very objective, very professional court proceedings,” she added.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine three months ago investigators have identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.
The country is currently examining 41 cases of alleged rape, killing of civilians and bombing of civilian infrastructure by Russian soldiers.
This week Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, was sentenced to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian.
On Wednesday government announced the creation of a joint EU, US and UK Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group for Ukraine (ACA). The group will assist Venediktova in her investigation and prosecution of Russian soldiers’ crimes.
Conservative MP John Whittingdale suggested government should also consider sending retired UK judges to “go an assist in rebuilding the judicial system” in Ukraine.
“We do have the expertise and would be very willing to provide any assistance,” the MP said.
In her briefing, Venediktova praised the UK for playing a “leading role in our fight”.
“It’s not an option to lose this fight,” she said.
“Without Britain it would be impossible - you have the leading role in our fight, and we are very very appreciative.”
In contrast Venediktova delivered a scathing assessment of the United Nations and its handling of Russia’s invasion.
The Prosecutor General accused the organisation of not focussing sufficient efforts on ensuring the human rights of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
“I don’t have trust in the UN,” she said.
“I spoke several times to their representatives, they asked about war prisoners from Russia.
“Answer me, what about our Ukrainian war prisoners? I don’t hear them answering.”
Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, a vice chair of the APPG for Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative said the UN is in strong need of reform, namely the removal of Russia from its permanent membership of the Security Council.
“I do not believe that a permanent member of the security council can remain so if they are in breach of international law, she said.
The MP added she wanted to reassure Venediktova “there are many of us pushing on that”.
“We have to call it out and we have to ensure that countries like the UK and others are standing up for international law.”
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