Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, AIJA has acted to condemn the attack and support the Ukrainian population by creating a special TaskForce (Diana Tudor, Inka Knappertsbusch, Marek Laca, Oleksii Prudkyi, Tomasz Krzywański and Alisa Burkhard) collecting money and donations and including different forum conversations on our members' portal, MyAIJA, to offer job opportunities to Ukrainian lawyers and their families, support them and give information about English schools for Ukrainian children.
Today, together with the contribution of our special TaskForce, we are glad to introduce you to new initiatives and projects that AIJA supports, and we hope that you and your law firms will be able to help as well. We also strongly encourage to share this message with your clients and other potential donors.
PURSUING ACCOUNTABILITY IN NATIONAL JURISDICTIONS ACROSS THE WORLD
Exactly a year ago, at AIJA’s annual conference in Zurich, TRIAL International’s Legal Adviser Elsa Taquet presented how international justice can have a more direct impact on conflicts, using innovative legal tools such as universal jurisdictions and complementarity. The war in Ukraine is now a real opportunity to apply these mechanisms to ensure accountability for perpetrators and use justice as a tool for deterrence.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion in Ukraine, TRIAL International has worked with Ukrainian and international organisations to document atrocities and build cases against perpetrators of war crimes. There are 166 jurisdictions in the world that can open investigation and prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine, but the need for strategic litigation is key to pursuing accountability.
With over 22,000 war crimes incidents documented so far, many victims having fled the country, and perpetrators most likely to be arrested outside of Russia, if not already detained in Ukraine, the prospects for accountability reside in domestic jurisdictions, in Ukraine and abroad. TRIAL International is working with those jurisdictions to bring criminal cases forward by activating universal jurisdiction, abroad, or working with Ukrainian authorities to investigate and prosecute those crimes.
TRIAL International anticipates international institutional support for pursuing this medium to long term strategy. In the intervening period, TRIAL International is looking for financial support from AIJA members, with a target of 50,000 euros in donations to continue its work and to open multiple cases in Ukraine and abroad. You can contribute personally, through your law firms or by contacting organisations or individuals that you think would be inspired by this initiative.
The Warsaw Bar Association is organising a project to support the collection of information about evidence regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated in Ukraine. We, as lawyers are likely to encounter witnesses and victims of such crimes in our professional practice and in providing legal assistance to people fleeing Ukraine to escape War.
It is with this purpose in mind that the Project Sunflowers (the name referring to one the symbols of Ukraine) was established. The Project is to provide a safe platform to gather information which can then be used by domestic and international courts or prosecutors to further the rights and freedoms of our clients. Furthermore, the Project involves online free training and seminars regarding evidence in criminal proceedings, war crimes and crimes against humanity, collection of information regarding evidence and victims of crimes committed in Ukraine and psychological support for first responders to Ukrainians who have witnessed these crimes and/or are their victims.
Following 24 February, a group of lawyers from different European countries created UA.SUPPORT to connect lawyers who offer help to refugees coming from Ukraine and collect legal information on the related issues that can help the refugees find their way when they arrive in a new country. Now, they urgently need more lawyers to be involved, as there are more than 150 requests for legal aid per week. The Ukrainian refugees are in need of legal aid in a variety of areas, including immigration law, employment law, schooling, healthcare, business development, etc. At the moment, particularly lawyers based in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Finland, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway and Sweden are needed. Alternatively, you can support the project financially.