One of the aftermaths of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is numerous cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression. The Sunflowers Foundation decided to help document such cases and presented an app on collecting information on evidence of crimes committed in Ukraine at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
According to Ewa Hofmanska, President of the Foundation Sunflowers Executive Board, the project started right after the full-scale invasion began. “We understood what a huge humanitarian crisis was ahead and united the efforts of international non-governmental organizations that support legal reform in Ukraine and lawyers working in the field of international criminal law,” she said.
The foundation unites several projects dealing with legal assistance and the recording of war crimes.
“We try to emphasize more often that dissemination of information contributes to exercising justice. Our goal is to help international organizations and the Ukrainian government register war crimes committed in Ukraine and enter them into a single database. We prepare these cases for an international criminal court or an international tribunal that will be set up to punish these war crimes. We also coordinate and combine data from various institutions that collect information on victims, damages and losses resulting from war crimes and war in general,” said Ewa Hofmanska.
The foundation also pays great attention to ensuring future reparations. Such information is further transformed into evidence at international trials.
Andriy Kosylo, Member of the Foundation Sunflowers Executive Board and Assistant Professor at the University of Warsaw, spoke about the importance of volunteers in the project. These people are responsible for contacting a person who witnessed international war crimes committed in Ukraine.
“Volunteers undergo two-stage training,” he explained. “At the first stage, they learn to work in the corresponding program. The second stage includes psychological preparation, as volunteers who will deal with information about complex events must first of all be able to think straight. They must also be able to speak to a witness so that the witness is not subjected to double victimization.”
Anyone can volunteer for the Sunflowers. Those currently working in the project are related to law in some way, but it isn’t mandatory. To join the project, you must first fill out a candidate form on the website https://www.sunflowerfund.co/
Andriy Kosylo emphasized that in criminal terms the so-called universal jurisdiction allows law enforcers and prosecutors of other countries to initiate criminal proceedings regarding an international crime. As of today, the Prosecutor’s Office of Poland has initiated criminal proceedings for the commission of international crimes in Ukraine. The same criminal proceedings have been initiated by prosecutors of the Netherlands, Canada and other countries.
“We have quite serious tools to collect evidence of war crimes. An application about the commission of a war crime or a crime against humanity, genocide or aggression can be submitted by a victim or a witness directly through the foundation’s website. Then you’ll have a contact with our volunteers who will document this information,” explained Mykhailo Shepitko, Member of the Foundation Sunflowers Executive Board, Professor at the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University.