House

Bipartisan duo offers bill to allow US to support ICC probe into Russian war crimes

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Reps Sara Jacobs and Victoria Spartz

A bipartisan duo is introducing legislation to allow the U.S. to support the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) investigation into Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

Legislation from Reps. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) and Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.), the first Ukrainian-born U.S. lawmaker, would create an exception to allow the U.S. to fund the ICC specifically for its investigations into the war.

The U.S. is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that established where the ICC holds authority. Federal law prohibits Washington from providing funding to the court unless it becomes a member.

“The loss of life and atrocities I have seen in Ukraine are heartbreaking and tragic,” Spartz said in a statement to The Hill. “These purported war crimes are inhumane and cannot be ignored by the international community for justice to be served.”

Russian forces have been accused of a range of crimes in Ukraine, such as targeting civilians, kidnapping Ukrainians and raping women. Secretary of State Antony Blinken first said in late March that the U.S. determined that Russian forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine and was collecting evidence.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said days after the invasion began that his office launched an investigation targeting officials responsible for war crimes.

Late last month, Khan’s office joined Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland on a team that aims to facilitate investigations into Russian war crimes, as well as those that could be taken to the court.

Russia and Ukraine are also not part of the Rome Statute. However, Ukraine has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over alleged war crimes in its territory.

The House passed legislation in early April to require the Biden administration to detail efforts to collect evidence of war crimes committed by Russian forces.

Jacobs introduced legislation in April with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) that would repeal the ban on providing U.S. funding for the ICC and encourages Washington to take steps to become a state party.

“Russia’s conduct in Ukraine has been appalling and demands a full international war crimes investigation,“ Jacobs said in a statement.

“I am proud to introduce this legislation that will strengthen the international community’s ability to hold Putin accountable, help the United States work collaboratively with the ICC, and boost our global leadership,” she continued.

Tags Antony Blinken house russia Sara Jacobs ukraine Victoria Spartz war crimes

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