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How can we bring Lukashenko's regime, as well as himself and his accomplices, to international responsibility?


Pavel Latushka
Pavel Latushka Poto: NAM media

Pavel Latushka, the head of the NAM and deputy head of the United Transitional Cabinet, delivered a lecture at the Faculty of International Law at the University of Bialystok, discussing the existing legal mechanisms for holding Lukashenko and his accomplices accountable for the international crimes they have committed. What are these mechanisms?

The first mechanism is the State referral of the „Belarus situation” to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. 

Some may argue that since Belarus is not a party to the Rome Statute, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over international crimes committed in our country. However, the jurisprudence and practice of the ICC suggests that the Court can potentially exercise at least jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation, which refers to situations where the civilian population is forced to leave a country's territory due to an “atmosphere of fear and terror” created by the perpetrators.

Civilians who were compelled to flee Belarus to Poland after being persecuted on political grounds by the Lukashenko regime can be considered victims of deportation. 

Since Poland is a state party to the ICC and deportation is a crime committed on the territory of at least two countries (Belarus and Poland), it is possible to establish the ICC's jurisdiction. 

Poland has the right to refer the "situation in Belarus" to the ICC Prosecutor's Office for potential investigation.

The second mechanism is universal jurisdiction. 

This principle allows states to investigate the most serious international crimes, even if they were committed on the territory of another country and neither the perpetrator nor the victim are nationals of the state initiating the criminal investigation. 

Applications have already been submitted under this mechanism in Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland.

The third mechanism is the referral of the dispute to the International Court of Justice. 

Considering the widespread commission of acts constituting torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, there are grounds to assert that Belarus has violated its obligations under the relevant international Convention against Torture of 1984, to which Belarus is a party. 

Since the violated provisions of the Convention are obligations to the entire world community (erga omnes), virtually any state party to the Convention can file an application against Belarus to the International Court of Justice.

Furthermore, A. Lukashenko and his accomplices may be subject to criminal liability for war crimes. 

With the onset of Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine, in which the Lukashenko regime is involved, the NAM has been documenting instances of the illegal displacement of children from Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine to Belarus. Such actions potentially constitute a war crime.

It is known that from September 2022 to May 2023, approximately 2,100 children aged 6 to 15 years, hailing from at least 15 occupied Ukrainian cities, were transported to the Belarusian Dubrava camp under the pretext of "rehabilitation." 

In this regard, the NAM has prepared and submitted two Communications under Article 15 of the Rome Statute to the ICC Prosecutor's Office.

 

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