USAID helped participants from Ukraine present the national experience of transitional justice elements

USAID’s New Justice Program provided support to the representatives of Ukraine to participated in Online Course on Prevention and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence: the Role of Transitional Justice conducted by the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) from February 1 through February 5, 2021.

The course program includes goals, dimensions, and the evolution of transitional justice. Also, during the training, participants gained knowledge about the causes and consequences of mass violations of human rights in the aftermath of violent conflict and repressive rule. An important part of the course was the discussion of the need for a flexible and innovative approach that goes beyond judicial responses and is relevant across the most challenging contexts.

Along with representatives from Ukraine, the course was attended by representatives of international organizations, government officials, academics, and civil society activists from around the world who had practical experience working with the topic of transitional justice.

The national experience of Ukraine was represented during the course by Maksym Tymochko, lawyer of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, and Vladyslav Miroshnychenko, Chief Specialist of the Service for Reintegration and Deoccupation of the Autonomic Republic of Crimea (ARC) of the Representation of the President of Ukraine in ARC.

During the course, Maksym Tymochko shared Ukraine’s experience in documenting and investigating human rights violations in the context of armed conflict. The participation of Ukrainian representatives was appropriate, as although the armed conflict in Ukraine is still going on, certain transitional justice mechanisms are already in place. In particular, the specialists of the justice system were trained in the norms of international humanitarian law and international criminal law, and “Memory Map” was created with information on the perished non-resident combatants of the countries participating in the conflict. Additionally, the Office of the Prosecutor General is systematically documenting the facts of human rights violations in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

At the beginning of the war, non-governmental organizations became a driving force in the process of documenting serious violations of international humanitarian law during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and the occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. This was since the law enforcement system, like the justice system, was not fully prepared for the challenges they faced during the armed conflict. In these circumstances, civil society has set itself the goal of assisting the authorities in the fight against impunity and strengthening their institutional capacity in this area. Thanks to joint efforts of the civil society sector, including the UHHRU Documentation Center and investigation agencies, a wealth of evidence was put together regarding war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Russian Federation’s armed aggression, which was included in the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Office’s annual reports. Today we are witnessing changes in the documentation process, which means the gradual transition of these functions from non-governmental organizations to specially created by the state institutions. In recent years, we have made significant progress in this regard: Criminal Proceedings Supervision Department for Crimes Committed during Armed Conflict has been established within the Prosecutor’s General Office, and the Ministry of Reintegration of the Occupied Territories intends to establish Center for Documenting Human Rights Violations. However, we should not stop there and continue to implement best practices in the application of transitional justice principles”, Mr. Tymochko noted.

According to Mr. Tymochko, it was thanks to the team of the International Center for Transitional Justice that participants from Ukraine learned how similar to Ukraine processes took place in the world, as well as what can be borrowed from international experience for more productive work in Ukraine. “This course inspires and motivates me to continue working in this field. I sincerely thankful to the team of the Center and I hope that our cooperation will continue in the future”,  he added.

The training organized by the International Center for Transitional Justice was thorough, exciting, and useful. The elements of transitional justice discussed are extremely important for Ukraine. Many of them will be implemented in national legislation in the future, but some of them are being introduced by the state today. In addition, last year a Working Group on the Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories within the Legal Reform Commission sent the President of Ukraine a developed concept of a national model of transitional justice, which should become a roadmap for overcoming the effects of the armed conflict in Ukraine. The Representative Office, on behalf of the President, deals with issues of transitional justice on a permanent basis. That is why this training was organized, which allowed gaining unique knowledge and experience that will be of great practical importance in future work”, shared Vladyslav Miroshnychenko his impressions of the course.

Thus, the online course became an effective platform for exchanging views, experiences, and ideas to ensure the rights of victims of armed conflict. And the achievements of the course will be used in Ukraine to develop existing transitional justice processes.