Clare Daly and Mick Wallace were among 19 members of the European Parliament to vote against a resolution calling for the establishment of a special international tribunal to prosecute Russia’s leadership for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
The resolution was passed with 472 votes in favour and 33 abstentions in a European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg on Thursday. Two of Mr Wallace and Ms Daly’s fellow Left group MEPs, Sinn Féin’s Chris MacManus and Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, were not present for the vote. All other Irish MEPs voted in favour.
The resolution noted that atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukrainian towns “reveal the brutality of the war of aggression waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and underscore the importance of co-ordinated international action to establish accountability”.
“Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is the most outrageous act of aggression conducted by the political leadership of a given country in Europe since 1945 and thus requires an adequate legal response at the international level,” it continued.
The resolution urges the EU and member states, in co-operation with Kyiv, “to push for the creation of a special international tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine perpetrated by the political and military leadership of the Russian Federation and its allies” without delay.
There is widespread support among EU governments for the Russian leadership to be held accountable for the invasion of Ukraine, and authorities in Ukraine have appealed for support in bringing perpetrators of war crimes to justice.
However, there is some disagreement about the best way to prosecute the crime of aggression under the Rome Statute – the invasion of another state, known since 1946 as the “supreme international crime” – because Russia does not accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and therefore this crime cannot be prosecuted by it.
The vote adds to calls from national parliaments in France, the Netherlands, Poland and elsewhere for a special international tribunal to be established to fill what the European Parliament described as a “vacuum in international criminal justice”.
MEPs called for the tribunal to be able to investigate the political and military leadership of Russia including president Vladimir Putin, as well as the administration of isolated Moscow ally Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus.
The parliament “strongly believes that the establishment of this special tribunal for the crime of aggression would send a very clear signal to both Russian society and the international community that Putin and the Russian political and military leadership can be convicted for the crime of aggression in Ukraine,” the resolution read.
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In a separate vote, Ms Daly and Mr Wallace were the sole MEPs in the parliament to vote against adding a debate related to Ukraine to the agenda on Monday.
The Renew group had asked for statements by the European Council and Commission on “the EU’s response to the appalling attack against civilians in Dnipro: strengthening sanctions against the Putin regime and military support to Ukraine” to be added to the agenda.
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The debate took place as the vote passed with 361 votes in favour and three abstentions, a lower turnout as not all MEPs had yet arrived for the plenary session. All other Irish MEPs present voted in favour.
Ms Daly and Mr Wallace had not responded to requests for comment at time of publication.