Episode 70 – Ukrainian War Crimes Trials with Ukrainian Judges

Leaving the court every time the alarm goes off and working around power cuts that halved working days to 4 hours. These are some of the working conditions of judges in Ukraine. The potential war crimes cases being investigated now amount to 36000. How are they managing these pressures? During the MATRA- Ukraine Conference organised by the T.M.C. Asser Instituut with Global Rights Compliance, we talked to Ukrainian judges Hanna Maina and Svitlana Yakovleva about their realities and how the Ukrainian judiciary is adapting.

Svitlana Yakovleva is a judge at the Supreme Court of Ukraine and she explains which organisational solutions have been found to tackle war crimes in a law system that did not have to deal with them before. Hanna Maina is a judge at the Novomoskovskyi Court of Dnipropetrovsk region so she has the on-the-ground experience of a first-instance court.  

Together with Hanna and Svitlana we also addressed some of the current debates – can Ukrainian defence judges be fair and how can the international system support Ukraine’s national courts. 

For a broader perspective on these national trials, we also caught up with Gaiane Nuridzhanian from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine and the UiT-Arctic University of Norway. She gives her “nuanced” view on war crime cases; on whether these rather quick trials can also be fair, and on what holistic justice like reparations may mean for Ukrainians.

No reading or watching recommendations this week (apart from Janet’s binge-watching the latest season of The Crown on Netflix), but a lot of appreciation for the Hague and its landmarks from Hanna and Svitlana, and a warm invite to visit Ukraine.