On 19 May 2021, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), in collaboration with Global Diligence LLP, Truth Hounds and Norwegian Helsinki Committee submitted a Communication under Article 15(2) of the Rome Statute to the International Criminal Court on ‘The Situation in Belarus/Lithuania/Poland/ Latvia and Ukraine: Crimes Against Humanity of Deportation and Persecution’.
The Communication requests the ICC Prosecutor to launch an investigation into the situation in Belarus with a view to investigate and prosecute the conduct of the Lukashenko regime.
The filing parties aver that the campaign of repression, unleashed by the Lukashenko regime on the Belarusian population since June 2020, amounts to a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population – in other words – crimes against humanity of deportation (Article 7(1)(d) of the ICC Statute) and persecution (Article 7(1)(h) of the ICC Statute).
On 23 May 2021, news broke out about the forced diversion of Ryanair flight FR4978 to Minsk airport, and the subsequent detention of opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega. The detention took place on board a Polish-registered aircraft on an international flight between Athens and Vilnius.
Considering this situation the filing parties present a Supplementary Communication to our initial submission. The purpose of this supplementary information is to establish that this reprehensible conduct by the Lukashenko regime: (1) falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC pursuant to Article 12(2)(a) of the ICC Statute and should be considered as part of the Prosecutor’s preliminary examination of the situation in Belarus; and (2) constitutes relevant contextual information that should form part of the Prosecutor’s decision to open a full investigation.
Crucially, in light of this shocking event, the filing parties urge the Prosecutor to publicly launch a preliminary examination of the situation in Belarus as a matter urgency, to signal an end to impunity for and to deter such conduct.