The ministers of Justice of Council of Europe member and observer states have adopted a declaration outlining a series of principles (“Riga principles”) to achieve comprehensive accountability for the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine and provide redress to all victims of the war, including through the focused and efficient functioning of the Register of Damage caused by the aggression.
These principles underline that the Register of Damage for Ukraine should have a victim-centred approach to provide remedies in particular for the most vulnerable, such as women and children. They also stress the importance of providing assistance to national authorities to facilitate the coordination of domestic efforts to support the Register’s functioning and of meaningfully consulting civil society and non-governmental organisations, including human rights defenders, as well as victims and victim rights organisations.
The ministers recalled the importance of the Register of Damage as the first step to ensure that Russia will pay for the damage it has caused in Ukraine through its unlawful war. The work of the Register, including its digital platform with all data about claims and evidence recorded, is intended to constitute the first component of a future international compensation mechanism. This will help ensure full and effective reparation for Ukraine and the victims through a separate international instrument to be established in cooperation with Ukraine.
All allegations of crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, must be fully investigated and, where warranted, prosecuted at national and international levels in order that those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Justice must be served for all victims and with the purpose of deterring future war crimes. To that end, we support the investigations and evidence gathering efforts conducted by the Ukrainian authorities, other national authorities and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said the ministers in their declaration.
In this respect, they underlined the significance of the ICC Prosecutor’s arrest warrants in connection with the alleged war crimes of unlawful deportation and transfer of children from or to the temporarily controlled or occupied areas of Ukraine. They condemned in the strongest terms their forcible placement under custody or adoption by Russian citizens, and violations of their dignity and rights. They also called on all relevant stakeholders, including international organisations continuing their work in the Russian Federation and Belarus, to actively participate in identifying the current locations of the unlawfully deported and transferred Ukrainian children and to provide assistance for their safe return.
The Council of Europe will continue to support the effective implementation of the Action Plan for Ukraine entitled “Resilience, Recovery, and Reconstruction for the period 2023-2026”.
The Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, with its seat in The Hague, was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 12 May 2023. Forty-four member states and observer states, and the European Union, have already joined the Register.
- Declaration of the Conference of Ministers of Justice - Riga principles
- Speech by the Secretary General at Justice Conference in Riga: “The Register is the first step towards any future compensation mechanism”
- Speech by Council of Europe Director General Human Rights and Rule of Law Christos Giakoumopoulos
- Reykjavik Declaration "United around our values” of the 4th Council of Europe Summit
- More photos from the event
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