Netherlands sends officers to investigate war crimes in Ukraine
Several dozen officers from the Koninklijke Marechauseee are going to Ukraine to help investigate alleged war crimes. The Cabinet will decide that on Friday during the Council of Ministers, several sources told ANP.
The Koninklijke Marechaussee is a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military. It concerns a forensic team that will leave "very soon" with extra protection. It is essential to gather evidence quickly after war crimes. The investigation into the MH17 plane crash enabled the Netherlands to gain a great deal of knowledge in the field of forensics.
According to insiders, the Marechaussee officers will work in places where war crimes have allegedly been committed. They will stay in Ukraine for several weeks and collect evidence for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The ICC has already launched an investigation into war crimes in Ukraine, which Russia invaded on February 24. Experts from the Public Prosecution Service (OM) and the police already share knowledge from the MH17 investigation with the ICC, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said.
Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan announced this week that the ICC is joining the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) established by Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. The JIT investigates crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Ukraine.
The JIT is supported by Eurojust, a European Union agency based in The Hague. Eurojust works with countries in the fight against cross-border crime. The organization supports the collection of evidence and the exchange of information.
The Cabinet has long supported investigations into crimes during this conflict. "The Netherlands will not rest until every war crime has been investigated and those responsible are prosecuted," Rutte said earlier.
In recent weeks, reports have emerged of mass graves, summary executions, and rapes by Russian soldiers. Ukraine's attorney general says he has already registered thousands of war crimes.
Ukraine cannot investigate all those crimes by itself. During a working visit to the lower house of the Dutch parliament, representatives of the Ukrainian parliament recently asked for technical experts, DNA tests, body bags, and technical equipment.
The Netherlands is already helping various initiatives in Ukraine. For example, our country supports a committee of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council and is co-founder of the Group of Friends of Accountability Following the Aggression Against Ukraine.
Minister Wopke Hoekstra (Foreign Affairs) gave an extra million euros to the ICC for investigations in Ukraine. In addition, the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will receive funding to strengthen its field office in Ukraine.
The Netherlands also provides military aid to Ukraine. This involves increasingly heavy equipment. A limited number of armored howitzers, the army's heaviest artillery, will e sent to Ukraine, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Tuesday.
Reporting by ANP