- Published: 10.03.2023.
Minister Malenica at JHA Council in Brussels: Crimes in Ukraine must not go unpunished
The number of victims of the most serious international crimes in Ukraine continues to increase. The EU must find a common response in the fight against impunity and advocate that no crime should go unpunished. Croatia supports the establishment of the International Centre for Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression and the Core International Crimes Evidence Database of EUROJUST."The number of victims of the most serious international crimes in Ukraine continues to increase. The EU must find a common response in the fight against impunity and advocate that no crime should go unpunished. Croatia supports the establishment of the International Centre for Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression and the Core International Crimes Evidence Database of EUROJUST. As a country which is still searching for the many missing persons whose fate is still unknown and on whose territory international humanitarian law was grossly violated, we wish to help Ukraine with our experience", said Minister Malenica ahead of the meeting of justice ministers on 10 March in Brussels.
Amendments to the Regulation as regards the preservation, analysis and storage of evidence relating to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and related criminal offences, which entered into force on 1 June 2022, enabled EUROJUST to collect and record data on committed crimes in a higher quality manner through the newly established Core International Crimes Evidence Database (CICED). Also, EUROJUST’s International Centre for Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression is expected to start operating in the summer of this year.
Croatia is one of the 43 States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which have referred the situation in Ukraine to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"Croatia advocates the establishment of accountability for all crimes committed, including the crime of aggression, and has joined the informal group of states (core group) whose task is to discuss possible ways of prosecuting the crime of aggression with the aim of ensuring accountability", the Minister said.
The ministers were informed about progress on the proposal for two directives related to violations of sanctions against Russia: Directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties for the violation of Union restrictive measures and the Directive on asset recovery and confiscation.
Restrictive measures are an essential tool for promoting the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy. The proposal for a Directive on the definition of criminal offences and penalties aims to approximate the definition of criminal offences related to the violation of Union restrictive measures, to ensure effective, dissuasive and proportionate penalty types and levels for criminal offences, to foster cross-border investigation and prosecution, and to improve the operational effectiveness of national enforcement chains.
As regards the proposed Directive on asset recovery and confiscation, it should facilitate confiscation of property in criminal matters, strengthen the capabilities of competent authorities to identify, freeze and manage assets, and reinforce and extend confiscation capabilities.
The EU justice ministers exchanged experience in tackling organised drug-related crime. Minister Malenica warned that an increased activity of the so-called Balkan drug cartel has been observed in the past two years in the ports of Rijeka and Ploče, which are used as ports of import for Europe.
He welcomed the opening of a dialogue on this topic and underlined the importance of organising international workshops with different stakeholders.
"History teaches us that crime knows no boundaries. Drug cartels are well-connected and it is therefore important that we give a common Union response by strengthening cooperation within EUROJUST", stressed the Minister.
The Council of Ministers discussed the way forward in the fight against racism and antisemitism. Minister Malenica reminded that Croatia had taken over the Presidency of the IHRA on 1 March, and would preside until 28 February 2024.
"The Presidency of the IHRA represents a great responsibility and privilege for Croatia. We wish to use the Presidency to strengthen our engagement and commitment to countering antisemitism and denial or distortion of the Holocaust. It is important that new generations do not forget what the Holocaust was and how much harm was inflicted on human civilisation. For this reason we will work hard on the Future of Remembrance Initiative", Minister Malenica highlighted.
The justice ministers also exchanged views on barriers to accessing justice and on the Charter of Fundamental Rights with regard to the civic space.