Minister of Security and Justice signs MH17 treaty with Ukraine
Minister of Security and Justice Stef Blok and his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Petrenko today signed a bilateral treaty on international legal cooperation in relation to the downing of flight MH17. The treaty provides that those suspected of downing flight MH17 can be prosecuted in the Netherlands in respect of all 298 victims. This means that all next of kin will have the same rights in the Dutch criminal proceedings.
The countries whose prosecution authorities are cooperating in the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) – Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Ukraine and the Netherlands – this week jointly decided that the prosecution and trial of the suspects would take place in the Netherlands, in a process rooted in close and ongoing international cooperation and support. The JIT’s criminal investigation is still underway. A decision on prosecution will be taken by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service in due course.
The bilateral treaty with Ukraine eliminates any doubts that the prosecution could take place in the Netherlands in respect of all the victims, not only those who were Dutch nationals. The victims of the MH17 disaster included people from 17 different countries.
The treaty also makes it possible for any Ukrainian defendants to be examined by video link. Provision has also been made for the transfer of enforcement of any prison sentences that may be imposed. This is important since the Ukrainian constitution prohibits the country from extraditing its own nationals.
‘The signing of this treaty is an important step towards establishing the truth, trying those responsible and achieving justice for the next of kin,’ Mr Blok said. ‘We are grateful to Ukraine for cooperating effectively with us, including in the agreement of this treaty.’
The MH17 treaty and its implementing legislation will be submitted to the House of Representatives for consideration as soon as possible.