Minister Bruins Slot pledges €17 million in justice funding during visit to Ukraine: ‘War crimes against the Ukrainian people must not go unpunished’

While visiting Kyiv on Tuesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hanke Bruins Slot, said she would make €17 million available to support Ukraine in combating impunity and ensuring justice for Ukrainian victims of war crimes. Part of the funds will be used to strengthen the justice system in Ukraine. ‘Restoring Justice’ is the seventh point in the ten-point plan presented by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 11 October 2022. Within the international community the Netherlands has taken the lead on this point.

The minister visited Ukraine on Monday and Tuesday, meeting in Kyiv on Tuesday with foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Zelenskyy. Ms Bruins Slot spoke to them about the importance of continued support for Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression. ‘This is going to be a lengthy conflict, so together with the EU and NATO we need to continue doing all we can to support Ukraine in defending itself against Russia. If we let our efforts flag now, we’ll be giving Putin exactly what he wants,’ the minister said.

In her talks the minister also emphasised that war crimes against the Ukrainian people must not go unpunished. ‘Evidence of the atrocities committed during this conflict is visible in many places in Ukraine,’ she said. ‘For example in Bucha, where the mass grave at St Andrews Church painfully reminds for the horrific crimes committed here against innocent civilians. The Ukrainian people deserve our support in bringing those responsible to justice. The Netherlands will continue working to help make that possible.’

Dutch financial support for justice

The €17 million contribution consists of two parts: a total of €9 million will be made available for the project ‘Restoring Dignity and Justice in Ukraine’, which is aimed at supporting Ukraine’s justice system with knowledge, practical expertise and capacity, specifically in the field of international criminal law. This project focuses on areas such as combating impunity for sexual and gender-based violence, strengthening Ukraine’s capacity to prosecute these kinds of crimes, and enhancing Ukraine’s capacity to investigate and prosecute international crimes committed against children. Ms Bruins Slot announced the contribution during her meeting with Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. 

In addition, the Netherlands is also supporting the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM Ukraine) with a contribution of €8 million. The minister announced the amount during her visit to the mission in Kyiv. This money will be used to strengthen Ukraine’s public prosecution service and its police force in areas of the country that have been liberated. The mission will also use the money for advisory services in the field of investigation and prosecution. 

Visits to Bucha, Myrotske

On Monday, the foreign minister visited Bucha and Myrotske. The name Bucha hit the headlines after its lengthy occupation by the Russian army. After the army’s withdrawal, the atrocities committed in Bucha came to light, and images of the aftermath were beamed around the world. In Bucha, Ms Bruins Slot visited the mass grave at St Andrew’s Church. In Myrotske she visited a demining project. The minister also visited an artillery training centre.

Dialogue Group on Accountability for Ukraine

On Tuesday, minister Bruins Slot met with the Ukrainian ombudsman, Dmytro Lubinets, about the abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia and how the Netherlands can help reunite these children with their families, for example through the use of rapid DNA test kits.

On that same day, the minister also officially opened the Secretariat of the Dialogue Group on Accountability for Ukraine, which is based in the office of the Prosecutor General in Kyiv. The Group was set up at the initiative of the Netherlands in March this year. It serves as a platform for countries, international organisations and civil society actors to ensure that the many national and international justice initiatives for Ukraine are properly aligned.