VISTING a town destroyed by missile strikes and laying a wreath to commemorate civilians killed in the conflict were all part of the Attorney General’s visit to Ukraine as she travelled to discuss international accountability for Russian war crimes last week.
Victoria Prentis KC MP took part in a three-day visit to the war-torn country between March 2-4. She first met Ukrainian counterparts and key stakeholders in Kyiv and visited Bucha and Borodiankia, the scenes of widespread and significant allegations of international crimes, before travelling to Lviv to represent the UK at the United for Justice Conference.
The Attorney General said:
Images of the war in Ukraine regularly flash up on our TV screens, but nothing prepares you for seeing first-hand the devastation being wrought upon innocent people.
This is a live and brutal conflict, and it is extraordinary, unparalleled even, that Ukraine is bringing prosecutions for war crimes as they are happening.
The UK has a long, proud tradition of accountability – and what we’ve seen in the last twelve months in Ukraine requires a response from the international community. We must unite to create an international moment of accountability. This will be challenging, but the rule of law matters, and it is worth fighting for.
In Kyiv, the Attorney General was hosted by Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Andriy Kostin, who is responsible for investigations into war crimes being prepared for domestic Ukrainian legal proceedings. His office has recorded more than 70,000 potential war crimes cases so far.
They were able to discuss the UK and wider international support to Ukraine’s domestic prosecutions, including through the UK-US-EU Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group. The Attorney General met representatives of Ukrainian civil society and the Ukrainian judiciary to hear about further progress and areas of focus within Ukraine on Russian accountability.
With members of Prosecutor General Kostin’s office, the Attorney visited the town of Borodyanka, some 30 miles North-West of Kyiv, which was hit by a number of Russian missile strikes last year – destroying one large apartment block completely. Later, alongside the Prosecutor General, they laid a wreath in Bucha at a site where last year, 116 people were uncovered in a mass grave.
The Attorney General then went on to Lviv to attend the United for Justice conference, which opened to a keynote address by President Zelenskyy. She gave informal opening remarks alongside Ministers from the wider international community, before attending the conference’s panel discussions.