Kateryna Busol

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A protester carries a former Belarusian flag during an opposition rally by the Minsk Hero City Obelisk. Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images.

Making the case

The recent election results in Belarus have triggered revolution in yet another post-Soviet country and Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s response has been devastatingly brutal. However, the Belarusian people’s resilience and Western sanctions – adopted on 14 August – have proved effective. As some of the 6,700 jailed protesters were released, accounts of horrific treatment by law enforcement emerged: overcrowded cells, no food, torture, forced confessions, severe beatings , and threats of rape.

With reports of mounting violence, Polish MEP Radosław Sikorski warned Lukashenka to expect not just sanctions but also the possible intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC), an idea supported by the opposition-led Belarus’ National Salvation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ukrainian feminists and human rights activists carry posters at an International Women's Day protest in Kyiv, Ukraine on 8 March 2019. Photo: Getty Images.

The virus of violence

According to the UN (para. 7) and the International Criminal Court (ICC, para. 279), conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) is quite prevalent in hostilities-affected eastern Ukraine. Both sexes are subjected to sexualized torture, rape, forced nudity, prolonged detention in unsanitary conditions with members of the other sex and threats of sexual violence towards detainees or their relatives to force confessions. Men are castrated. Women additionally suffer from sexual slavery, enforced and survival prostitution, and other forms of sexual abuse. Women are more exposed to CRSV: in the hostilities-affected area, every third woman has experienced or witnessed CRSV as opposed to every fourth man.…  Seguir leyendo »

Marking the Day of The National Flag of Ukraine, a day before celebrations of the anniversary of state independence. Photo by ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP via Getty Images.

The recognition by Ukraine of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider grave crimes allegedly perpetrated in its territory has led to the ICC Prosecutor’s preliminary examination identifying a wave of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There are claims of persecution, forced conscription, deportation, sham trials, enforced disappearances, and property seizure - in Crimea. As well as killings, torture, inhuman treatment, sexual violence, and indiscriminate shelling - in Donbas. The court now needs to decide whether to open a full investigation which could lead to charges against specific individuals, as in the trial currently taking place in the Netherlands over MH-17.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rally in support of keeping Crimea as part of Ukraine. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Russia’s ongoing occupation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and support of separatist hostilities in the eastern provinces of Donbas have resulted in 1.5 million internally displaced persons, 3,000 civilians killed, and a growing list of alleged violations of international law and socio-economic hardship.

But Ukraine is struggling in its efforts to hold Russia accountable – either as a state or through individual criminal responsibility - as it cannot unilaterally ask any international court to give an overall judgment on the conflict.

So it focuses on narrower issues, referring them to authorised adjudication and arbitration platforms such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), European Court of Human Rights, UNCLOS arbitration, and the International Criminal Court (ICC).…  Seguir leyendo »

'The destructive reconstruction of the 16th-century Bakhchysarai Palace is being conducted by a team with no experience of cultural sites, in a manner that erodes its authenticity and historical value.' Photo: Getty Images.

Violations against cultural property – such as archaeological treasures, artworks, museums or historical sites – can be no less detrimental to the survival of a nation than the physical persecution of its people. These assaults on heritage ensure the hegemony of some nations and distort the imprint of other nations in world history, sometimes to the point of eradication.

As contemporary armed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen demonstrate, cultural property violations are not only a matter of the colonial past; they continue to be perpetrated, often in new, intricate ways.

Understandably, from a moral perspective, it is more often the suffering of persons, rather than any kind of ‘cultural’ destruction, that receives the most attention from humanitarian aid providers, the media or the courts.…  Seguir leyendo »