On September 11, 2023, a high-level conference with justice ministers, organised by Latvia and the Council of Europe, will be held in Riga. During this conference, the next steps to ensure Russia’s responsibility for the crimes committed in Ukraine, and for the return of Ukrainian children kidnapped by Russia to their families will be decided.
The main focus of the meeting will be on the implementation of the decisions taken at the May 17, 2023, Council of Europe Summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. The aim is to explore how the Council of Europe can enhance its contribution to supporting the Ukrainian justice system and re-establishing the international legal order by ensuring the comprehensive accountability admist the backdrop of the Russian Federation’s agression.
Minister of Justice Ms Inese Lībiņa-Egnere says: “Together we must defend European values against the aggressor, restore justice and ensure that Russia is held accountable. There are different views on how to do it best. Latvia supports the establishment of an International Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine on the basis of a UN delegation. At the Riga Conference, we want to bring the understanding of the countries closer and give Ukraine an opportunity to address those countries that are still formulating their views, as well as to seek and propose political solutions to be further developed in other negotiating formats. At the same time, we hope to agree on the basic principles for the future functioning of the Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine, ensuring its effective operation.”
The meeting of the justice ministers of the Council of Europe in Riga, Hanzas Perons, on September 11, will be opened by the President of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs, and further opening speeches will be given by the Minister of Justice of Latvia Inese Lībiņa-Egnere, the Secretary general of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić, the President of the Parliamentary Asssembly of the Council of Europe Tiny Kox, the Minister of Justice of Ukraine Denis Malyuska, the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin, and the Commissioner for Justice of the European Union Didier Reynders.
The justice ministers’ conference in Riga is organized by the Ministry of Justice of Latvia and the Council of Europe within the framework of Latvia’s presidency of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Delegations from 40 Council of Europe Member States will take part in the conference. Furthermore, representatives from observer states and international organisations will also participate in the conference.
The first session of the conference will be devoted to ensuring Russia’s comprehensive accountability, including the launch of the “Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine”. The Riga Conference will also mark the first public speech made by the Executive Director of this new Register, which was created within the framework of the Council of Europe. The purpose of the Register is to create a comprehensive overview of the losses that Russia has caused to Ukraine, and then recover them.
In the second session, the ministers of justice will both listen to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine and discuss support for the resilience of the Ukrainian justice system during the war and post-war reconstruction.
The third session will be dedicated to the topic of reuniting families and restoring hope, with a special focus on supporting Ukrainian children who have been illegally deported to Russia and Belarus.