On Monday, 11 September, a high-level meeting of Justice Ministers took place in Riga, organised on the initiative of the Ministry of Justice between Latvia and the Council of Europe, where a joint political declaration was signed expressing strong condemnation of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. More than 40 Council of Europe countries present affirmed that Russia and its political and military leadership must take full responsibility for its aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, the declaration also includes guidelines – the Riga Principles - aimed at ensuring the effective functioning of the Ukrainian Register of Damage.

Justice Minister Inese Lībiņa-Egnere says: "It is our duty as the international community to support Ukraine in its efforts to restore the rule of law and to hold the aggressor States accountable. One way to do this is through the Ukrainian Register of Damages. By identifying all the damage and evidence, it will be possible to take further action against Russia and Belarus in an international special tribunal, which we must establish together. I would like to stress that our response to Russian aggression will not only affect the stability of Europe and shape the new global order, but will also define our commitment to European values of human dignity, democracy, equality, the rule of law and human rights, which is why we must do everything in our power to ensure that Russia's crimes are punished."

At the end of the meeting, the countries signed a declaration of support for Ukraine and its people, its regional and local communities, cultural heritage, environment and civil infrastructure. The Member States of the Council of Europe, in collaboration with Ukraine and the relevant international organisations and structures, will continue the work to create an international compensation mechanism based on a specific international instrument.

The international community condemns Russia and highlights the legal consequences of its illegal activities in Ukraine – the recovery of damages and other moral, judicial and financial losses. At the same time, the States undertake to protect the well-being of all Ukrainian children by providing for their safe return to Ukraine, when circumstances permit, for them and their families.

The Council of Europe Justice Ministers’ Conference in Riga took place within the framework of the Latvian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and is a practical step towards bringing the perpetrators to justice. The meeting was attended by 40 delegations from Council of Europe Member States, representatives from observer States and international organisations.

The text of the declaration signed at the conference “Towards justice for Ukraine: Promoting comprehensive accountability, supporting the resilience of the justice system and reuniting children with their families” is available here, while the video of the opening session is available here. Photos of the official conference are available on the Ministry of Justice website. All photos are available on the Ministry of Justice Flickr account.