Former UK Prime Ministers, Gordon Brown and Sir John Major want a new international tribunal to be set up to investigate Russia’s Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine.
The former PMs are among 140 academics, lawyers and politicians who have signed a petition calling for a legal system modelled on the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War Two.
According to the International Criminal Court (ICC) it is already investigating Mr. Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. But some people have said the powers of the ICC are limited. By order, the ICC cannot pursue the crime of aggression without a referral from the United Nations (UN) Security Council, which Russia could veto.
In a post, Mr. Brown noted that creating a new tribunal would close off this “loophole” in international law “that Putin could use to dodge justice”.
“We must move with speed, to assure the people of Ukraine that we are committed to action and not just warm words, and we must make Putin’s collaborators aware that the noose is tightening. If they do not distance themselves from Putin, they face prosecution and prison.”Former UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown
It is hoped that the tribunal will act in addition to the ICC’s current investigations into war crimes. Already, the campaign has been supported by 740,000 people, including dozens of public figures.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, and the former President of the UK Supreme Court, Lady Hale have added their signatures to the petition. Earlier supporters include the Professor of International Law, Philippe Sands QC; Former Prosecutor for the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, Benjamin Ferencz; Labour Peer, Helena Kennedy QC; and Former President of the European Court of Human Rights, Sir Nicolas Bratza.
Mr. Gordon Brown (Former UK PM) continued that “From Britain, which rightly prides itself on democracy and the rule of law – the message must go out. At Nuremberg, we held the Nazi war criminals to account. Eight decades on, we must ensure there will be a day of reckoning for Putin.”
The Nuremberg trial, named after the German city it was held in, is the first-ever international war crimes trial that saw the most notorious Nazis tried for their crimes. The offences included waging a war of aggression, violating the customs of warfare and committing crimes against humanity.
US President, Joe Biden, this week called Mr. Putin a “war criminal” for the first time. The Kremlin denounced the comments as “unacceptable and unforgiveable rhetoric”.
Other leaders have accused Russia of carrying out war crimes included the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy and UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Russian forces are being accused of bombing civilian areas in Ukraine and targeting those fleeing.
On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, a theatre where hundreds of civilians were sheltering was hit in the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol. In addition, Ukraine has also called Russia’s airstrike on Mariupol’s hospital a war crime.
Peace talks between Russia and Ukraine have been taking place, but UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has warned that the Kremlin might be using the negotiations as a “smokescreen”.
In an interview with the UK Foreign Secretary, she said “If a country is serious about negotiations, it doesn’t indiscriminately bomb civilians that day.”
Meanwhile, the UK government has said that two million medical items have been donated to Ukraine, including painkillers, insulin shots and intensive care equipment.