Over the past two weeks, high-level meetings have taken place between senior officials and European judicial authorities, including Eurojust, an EU agency for judicial cooperation in criminal matters.
Discussions focused on how Gardaí could contribute to an international investigation into war crimes and the challenges of gathering evidence.
Almost 23,000 Ukrainians are now seeking refuge in Ireland.
High-level sources said An Garda Síochána’s contribution will most likely involve obtaining detailed testimonies from people in Ukraine who claim to have witnessed war crimes.
“We have 20,000 potential witnesses in the country,” a senior official said.
Logs used to collect potential cellphone evidence, such as footage of bombing raids or allegations of atrocities, have yet to be destroyed.
One possible approach is to distribute questionnaires among the Ukrainian refugees who have arrived here since the war broke out on February 24.
Based on these answers, Ukrainian witnesses will be given the opportunity, with the help of translators, to make formal statements to investigators.
Given the sensitivities involved, the interview process will likely be slow. Support must be available for the potential witnesses who may be re-traumatized by the retelling of their stories.
Gardaí have also debated whether detectives with special training should conduct any interviews.
The testimonies and any corroborating evidence would feed into a possible international investigation into war crimes in Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already launched war crimes investigations in the wake of the Russian invasion, but questions have been raised about its ability to hold people living in Russia accountable.
Since the discovery of mass graves of murdered civilians in Bucha, near Kyiv, calls for prosecution of Russia and its President Vladimir Putin for war crimes have escalated.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly described atrocities in his country as “war crimes” and “genocide”. For its part, Russia has denied the allegations, claiming that the evidence presented was “fabricated”.
During a visit to Kyiv on Thursday, Secretary of State Simon Coveney said the killing of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces was “likely” a war crime.
He also announced €3 million in funding for the ICC, of which €1 million would be paid immediately to prosecutors.
“I spoke to Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Kuleba about the essential need for accountability for the appalling acts committed during the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Coveney said.
“In all situations where war crimes may have been committed, it is essential to conduct investigations and ensure the collection of evidence, including in relation to crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, and to assist witnesses, victims and survivors.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/gardai-prepare-to-help-ukraine-war-crimes-investigation-effort-41560398.html Gardaí are preparing to help Ukraine investigate war crimes