The attorney general of USA, merrick garlandvisited this Friday the Ukrainian city of Lviv to participate in a conference on justice and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) investigating the russian war crimes in the country.
“We will support our contribution with the full weight and might of the United States Government. You have our commitment that we will do everything in our power to achieve the accountability that true justice requires,” Garland said in a speech.
According to a statement from the Justice Department, the memorandum will facilitate cooperation with the group, which also includes the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Garland’s surprise visit comes just over a week after US President Joe Bidentake a trip to kyiv to meet with the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenskythus marking one year from the beginning of the Russian invasion.
During his visit to Lviv, Garland assured that Washington is investigating “Ukrainian war crimes that violate US laws”.
The head of the Department of Justice clarified that, although they are still interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence, they already have “specific suspects”.
During his trip, Garland met with Zelensky, as well as European and Polish officials who participated in the conference. “United for Justice”in which politicians, activists and lawyers from various countries met to discuss how to speed up the legal mechanisms that guarantee the prosecution of international crimes, particularly that of Russian aggression.
During the event, the Ukrainian president stressed that the crime of aggression is what “paved the way for other crimes” that occurred in Ukraine, such as the killings and torture of civilians in towns such as Bucha and Yahidne or the thousands of missile and drone strikes that have destroyed dozens of cities and towns.
The US attorney general already made a surprise visit to Ukraine in June last year, where he met with the then Ukrainian attorney general to discuss international efforts to investigate Russian war crimes.
Zelensky requested on Friday in the meeting with Garland that Russia be prosecuted internationally for war crimes.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that the International Criminal Court succeed in punishing Russian war criminals,” Zelensky declared.
“The main theme of all these meetings and of the meeting in Lviv it is accountability,” he added. “The accountability of Russia and its leaders is personal, for the aggression and terror against our State and our people”.
Zelensky indicated that so far there have been more than 70,000 Russian war crimes.
“But unfortunately, at the moment we don’t know all the crimes,” he said. “A large part of our territory is still under occupationand currently we cannot reliably predict how many Russian crimes we would uncover after the expulsion of the invaders.”
Together with Garland, they participated in the conference the Great Britain Attorney General Victoria Prentis; he Attorney General of the State of Spain, Álvaro García Ortiz, and the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders.
Meanwhile, in the United Nationsthe deputy spokesperson farhan haq assured that the humanitarian personnel of the UN is reporting “intense hostilities” near the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmutnoting that the world body’s few humanitarian partners on the ground are focusing on evacuating the most vulnerable people from the conflict zone.
(With information from EFE, AP and Europa Press)
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