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Germany calls for special tribunal against Russia over Ukraine war - Reuters

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Monday (16 January) saw a call by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock for the creation of a special international tribunal to bring charges against Russian leaders in connection with Moscow's invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

Baerbock, who was addressing the Academy of International Law in The Hague where the International Criminal Court is located, stated that "a tribunal capable of investigating the Russian leadership and putting them on trial" is what is required.

It is not possible to prosecute Russia for aggression against Ukraine before the ICC. She stated that the court can only deal with cases where the plaintiff and defendant are members of the court or a case has been referred by UN Security Council.

Russia is not a member the ICC and as such, Russia, one of five permanent Security Council members with veto-wielding powers, would likely block any referral to it.

Baerbock said that they had discussed the possibility of working with Ukraine and their partners to establish a special tribunal for crimes against Ukraine. He also suggested that such a tribunal could be derived from Ukrainian criminal law.

It could also be supplemented by international elements, she stated.

The European Union, Ukraine and the Netherlands all publicly supported the idea for a special tribunal. Russia denies war crimes accusations, calling its actions in Ukraine a "special army operation". It has also denied the deliberate targeting of civilians in Ukraine, where thousands have been killed.

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However, Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the ICC, has warned about legal fragmentation. He said that his court was best suited for trials involving crimes against aggression because member states can fix "gaps" that are claimed to exist.

Later in the day, Baerbock addressed Ukrainian children being deported from Ukraine and given up for adoption.

The minister stated that Russia must answer for whereabouts of the children, while Wopke Hoekstra, her Dutch counterpart, said that the children should be returned home and Russia must stop deporting them.

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