The United States, along with the European Union and the United Kingdom, have created the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group (ACA). This joint initiative will directly support the efforts of the War Crimes Units of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine (OPG) to document, preserve and analyze evidence of war crimes and other atrocities committed in Ukraine, with a view to prosecution criminal. As we launch this initiative, the Department of State will continue to work closely with the Department of Justice and other partners to support the pursuit of justice and accountability. As the issued by the Attorney General and his international counterparts is a clear signal that we are united across the world in our determination to hold perpetrators accountable.
Evidence of atrocities committed by members of Russian forces in Ukraine continues to mount. Initially, this violence took the form of shelling and missile and artillery strikes hitting densely populated towns and villages, causing the deaths of thousands of civilians and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. Later, when journalists, human rights defenders and Ukrainian officials gained access to areas after the withdrawal of Russian forces, we heard reports of violence of a different order: credible reports state of unarmed civilians shot in the back; individuals were killed in execution style with their hands tied; bodies bearing signs of torture; and horrific accounts of sexual violence against women and girls. More recently there have been credible reports of Ukrainian children being forcibly transferred out of the country.
The implementation of this effort of multilateral responsibility therefore comes at a critical moment. The ACA will provide strategic advice and operational assistance to the war crimes units of the OPG, the legally constituted authority responsible for prosecuting war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine. While the United States and our partners support a range of international efforts to seek accountability for atrocities, OPG will play a critical role in ensuring those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities are held accountable. The ACA is an essential part of the United States’ commitment to holding those responsible for such crimes accountable.
ACA’s assistance to OPG’s war crimes units includes increased funding for the work of a multinational team of international prosecutors and other war crimes experts already deployed to the region. This interdisciplinary team provides strategic advice and operational assistance in areas such as evidence collection and preservation, military analysis, conflict-related sexual violence investigations, and cooperation with international and national accountability mechanisms. In this regard, the ACA will liaise with the Department of Justice in its pursuit of accountability in US courts.
The ACA will streamline coordination and communication efforts to ensure best practices, avoid duplication of effort, and encourage the rapid deployment of financial resources and qualified personnel to meet OPG’s needs. ACA’s engagement with OPG and other justice, law enforcement and security agencies of Ukraine has been, and will continue to be, driven by the needs of the Ukrainian government, and the parameters of its support will be developed in close consultation with OPG.
We look forward to working with Madam Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova to advance the cause of justice for the people of Ukraine. At the same time, our Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies will make sure to do their part to promote accountability for war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russian forces.