Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Andriy Kostin, is utilizing technology to pursue war crimes and human rights violations committed by Russian troops during the ongoing conflict. Kostin’s office has established a database to collect and store the overwhelming amount of images, videos, and digital evidence submitted by Ukrainian civilians. They have also introduced websites and chatbots to assist in categorizing and submitting evidence. TIME recently interviewed Kostin about the innovative ways his office is leveraging technology to analyze evidence and build strong cases against war criminals.
Traditionally, war crimes prosecutions have focused on physical harm inflicted upon individuals. However, Kostin’s office is expanding the scope of investigation to include a wider range of war crimes. They are now investigating crimes against the environment, such as damage to nuclear facilities and environmental destruction that will have long-lasting health implications for Ukrainians. This shift is aligned with the international community’s increasing attention toward environmental crimes.
Moreover, Kostin’s office is also pioneering the prosecution of cyber attacks as war crimes, a challenging task given the complex nature of cyber investigations. By collaborating with technology companies like Palantir and Microsoft, Kostin’s team is able to analyze data, voices, and faces to build strong cases. These partnerships also ensure that new technological tools can be utilized to sift through the vast amount of digital evidence, which includes terabytes of photos, videos, and voice recordings.
Collecting evidence from the millions of Ukrainian refugees abroad and displaced civilians within the country is a significant challenge. To address this, Kostin’s office has developed tools like the Core International Crimes Evidence Database (CICED) to securely collate information for joint investigations. This database, supported by the European Union’s Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, will be fully operational in November. It will enable seamless sharing of evidence between different jurisdictions and ensure that no crucial information is lost.
While the sheer volume of digital evidence submitted in real-time during an ongoing conflict poses a considerable challenge, Kostin emphasizes the importance of a swift judicial process to prevent justice from being delayed. His office is in constant dialogue with Ukrainian courts to prioritize war-crime cases. It is also crucial to restore the dignity of victims and survivors, which can be achieved by prosecuting cases even in absentia.
In conclusion, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General is using technology in unprecedented ways to pursue war crimes and human rights violations committed during the conflict with Russia. By expanding the scope of investigation, collaborating with technology companies, and establishing secure databases, Kostin’s office is developing new avenues for accountability and paving the way for future prosecutions of similar crimes globally.