April 20, 2022

Attorneys in Willkie’s Frankfurt office conducted research for ECCHR that may be used in potential war crimes trials related to the war in Ukraine.

In response to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine which began in February 2022, Willkie has worked tirelessly to support those impacted by the war. As part of this work, Willkie partnered with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) to produce a report on the legal systems of Eastern European states. ECCHR is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to enforcing civil and human rights worldwide. As part of the enforcement of human rights, ECCHR has previously initiated German criminal trials for war crimes committed in Syria. Similar criminal trials for war crimes may take place with respect to the war in Ukraine in the coming years.

Willkie’s report covers eight different European jurisdictions: Republic of Estonia, Republic of Latvia, Republic of Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Republic of Moldova. The report compares the jurisdictions in terms of whether (i) a crime committed abroad (i.e. in Ukraine) can be prosecuted domestically and (ii) the respective national criminal law contains provisions relating to war crimes. The research was conducted by attorneys in Willkie’s Frankfurt office, by colleagues from Willkie’s other European offices and by local counsel who served as experts.

After Willkie’s report was submitted, ECCHR utilized it as an initial source of information at a related international conference at The Hague. ECCHR expressed gratitude for Willkie’s hard work, and both organizations look forward to working together in future pro bono projects to meet ECCHR’s mission of enforcing human rights around the world.

The Willkie team included partner Wolfram Prusko, counsel Svenja Wachtel and associates Friederike Hammwöhner, Stefanie Lechler, Marcin Pawlik and Martin Reichert.