Accountability for atrocity crimes in Ukraine

by Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)

Accountability for atrocity crimes in Ukraine

by Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)
Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)
Case Owner
The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) pursues innovative legal actions across borders, challenging states and other powerful actors involved with human rights abuses.
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Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)
Case Owner
The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) pursues innovative legal actions across borders, challenging states and other powerful actors involved with human rights abuses.
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Latest: March 19, 2024

We took our cutting-edge methodology to the front lines.

Last month, three GLAN lawyers travelled to Ukraine to deliver training to 50 Ukrainian judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers on our open-source evidence methodology. They travelled with our i…

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Atrocity crimes are taking place in Ukraine as we speak. The international community are calling for accountability. GLAN is working with online investigators to compile a database of evidence to help ensure that perpetrators of such crimes can be held accountable.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine is intensifying. Attacks against civilians and destruction of civilian infrastructure continue with more than 4,521 civilian casualties recorded, and 1,932 deaths to date. 

Videos, photographs and other media are flooding the web creating a wealth of publicly available, open source information.  This information is creating a public library of atrocities as they are being committed.  Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) and partners are preparing this data to create a database of evidence that can be used to prosecute those responsible.

The International Criminal Court, the UK’s SO15 and other international actors are calling for evidence of atrocity crimes, and official prosecutors can use open source information to support their investigations.  We have developed an innovative step-by-step methodology and evidence classification system for collecting and authenticating publicly available information that would otherwise not be accepted before the courts. This information will be made available to any official prosecutors or trusted partners for use in accountability processes and legal proceedings.

Until recently, courts have been sceptical of how trustworthy videos and photographs available online can be as evidence because the creator is unknown or unavailable to provide proof of authenticity.  We have developed a system allowing investigators and lawyers to overcome these issues and ensure that valid data is authenticated as admissible evidence.

Your donations will help us compile the evidence needed to hold actors in this war accountable for crimes committed against the people of Ukraine.  Your funding will help us boost capacity and upscale the technology we need to manage the influx of data being produced.  Our goal is to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes are held accountable.  Your donation will help us achieve that goal and seek justice and accountability for Ukraine.

Who we are

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) are part of the Justice and Accountability Unit, a collaboration of investigators and human rights lawyers working together to seek out and collate evidence which can be used to ensure accountability can be achieved for atrocity crimes. GLAN is a collective of legal professionals who challenge powerful actors complicit in human rights abuses.  We provide legal guidance on these open source investigations ensuring that evidence can be used in court.

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Update 3

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)

March 19, 2024

We took our cutting-edge methodology to the front lines.

Last month, three GLAN lawyers travelled to Ukraine to deliver training to 50 Ukrainian judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers on our open-source evidence methodology. They travelled with our investigative partners at Bellingcat upon invitation from the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine.   

Over the past six months, our team have designed a training course which addresses how to gather open-source information from social media and use it as part of criminal proceedings in war crime cases.  The Judges and prosecutors there told us this knowledge could transform which cases they are able to take forward and how they assess evidence.   

Charlotte Andrews-Briscoe, one of GLAN’s lawyers, said: 

It was such a privilege to engage in a mutual process of learning with Ukrainian prosecutors, judges and defence lawyers and discuss the utility of open-source information as evidence in this context. Making use of the capabilities of open-source information is especially vital at the frontline, or in occupied territories, where collecting traditional forms of evidence is unimaginably difficult. The catastrophic destruction throughout Ukraine was apparent to us, and served to reinforce why this work is so important."

There are currently more than 100,000 open war crimes cases in Ukraine. With our training, Ukrainian lawyers and judges are better equipped to process the streams of open-source evidence to ensure accountability is secured against perpetrators of war crimes. 

We are already discussing a return trip with the EUAM to deliver training to a wider cohort of Ukrainian legal professionals working on war crimes, but we need your support to make that happen.  


Update 2

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)

Nov. 24, 2023

Supporting war crime investigations

Since the conflict broke out in Ukraine, our team have been laying the foundations to secure accountability for war crimes.  

  • We have completed over 35 investigations into incidents of potential war crimes in Ukraine, specifically the cluster munition barrage of Kharkiv in February and March 2022. Findings will be presented to international war crime investigators. 

  • We helped relatives of Ukrainian murder victims to prosecute their attackers. We submitted evidence to German Federal Prosecutors investigating three cases where civilians were detained, tortured and killed by Russian forces. 

  • The European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) Ukraine asked us to train Ukrainian judges, lawyers, and prosecutors who are working on active war crime investigations how to assess open source evidence using our toolkit when seeking accountability 

  • We held a mock hearing to test a jury's reaction to open source evidence.  We're awaiting judgment. 

Our work is not complete.  We are visiting Ukraine early next year to deliver training and technical support on war crimes evidence.  We will carry out more investigations and continue supporting the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office and many other investigative and non-profit organisations in the sector. 

Please continue to share and support this work.  It’s more important now than ever that we show war crimes will not go unpunished. 

Update 1

Global Legal Action Network (GLAN)

May 9, 2022

Finalising our evidence methodology

It has now been more than eight weeks since Russia invaded Ukraine.  The conflict has rendered more than 5 million people refugees and displaced a further 7 million.  New allegations of war crimes are being made every day. And new footage, photographs and other images are being released every hour. 

Investigations into alleged war crimes have commenced.   

Our team is working hard to ensure there is a database of evidence to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.  We are using open source data generated by civilians and reporters and working to ensure it can be used in courts.   

We are already receiving requests for evidence, and we need to be able to respond. We know our processes are strong, because we have been building them for years.  

This week, we are meeting with partner investigators to make final revisions to our evidence methodology with input from leading war crimes investigators and international criminal law experts.   It is imperative that we keep building on this work to build a robust and extensive database of evidence from Ukraine to support international investigations into atrocity crimes.  

We will seek accountability. 

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