The Ministers of Justice of the Council of Europe member and observer states have adopted a declaration setting out several principles (the “Riga Principles”) to achieve comprehensive accountability for the Russian Federation’s war aggression against Ukraine and ensure that it pays reparations for all victims of the war.
This was announced by the Council of Europe’s press service after the ministerial meeting in Riga on 11 September.
According to the report, the principles emphasise that the Register of Damages for Ukraine should have a victim-centred approach to providing treatments, particularly for the most vulnerable groups, such as women and children.
They also underline the importance of assisting national authorities to coordinate domestic efforts to support the Register of Damages’ functioning and conduct meaningful consultations with civil society and non-governmental organisations, including human rights defenders, as well as with victims and victims’ rights organisations.
Ministers recalled the importance of the Register of Damage as a first step to ensure that Russia pays for the damage it has caused to Ukraine through its illegal war.
The work of the Register, including its digital platform with all data on claims and evidence, is intended to be the first component of a future international compensation mechanism. It will help ensure complete and fair reparations to Ukraine and the victims through a separate international instrument to be created in cooperation with Ukraine.
“All allegations of crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, committed by Russian forces in Ukraine must be fully investigated and, where warranted, prosecuted at the national and international levels to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for their actions,” the ministerial declaration said.
In this regard, they underlined the importance of the arrest warrants issued by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in connection with alleged war crimes related to the illegal deportation and transfer of children from or to the temporarily controlled or occupied territories of Ukraine.
They condemned in the strongest terms their forced detention or adoption by Russian citizens and violations of their dignity and rights.
They also called on all relevant stakeholders, including international organisations that continue their work in the Russian Federation and Belarus, to take an active part in determining the current whereabouts of illegally deported and displaced Ukrainian children and to provide assistance for their safe return.
In May, the Council of Europe summit in Iceland adopted an agreement on the Register of Damage from Russian Aggression. At that time, 43 states joined the Register. Switzerland has recently joined the Register.