PES Justice Ministers: hold Russia accountable for its crimes in Ukraine

Pictured from left: Spain’s Minister for Justice Pilar Llop, Portugal’s Minister for Justice Catarina Sarmento e Castro, and Slovenia’s State Secretary for Justice Igor Šoltes

Pictured from left: Spain’s Minister for Justice Pilar Llop, Portugal’s Minister for Justice Catarina Sarmento e Castro, and Slovenia’s State Secretary for Justice Igor Šoltes

Meeting in Luxembourg this morning, socialist and democratic justice ministers from Slovenia, Portugal and Spain met to coordinate progressive priorities for EU justice policy.

On the agenda: holding Russia accountable for breaking international law in Ukraine, cooperation with Latin America to fight organised crime, and reinforcing digital empowerment and fundamental rights in the EU.

Later today, EU member state justice ministers will meet in the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council.

Chair of today’s justice ministerial meeting organised by the Party of European Socialists (PES), Slovenian State Secretary Igor Šoltes said:

“The Russian leadership must be held accountable for the crimes it has committed. International law must be respected. Whether before national courts, a special tribunal, or the ICC for crimes within its jurisdiction, preparations for future proceedings against Russia must be made. It is therefore of the utmost importance for Eurojust to focus on this, working alongside the ICC and Ukrainian prosecutors to preserve evidence of Russia’s crimes in Ukraine.

“Today we reiterate our call to close loopholes and harmonise the enforcement of sanctions against Russia, Belarus and all oligarchs supporting the brutal invasion of Ukraine. With EU work ongoing, progressives will keep pushing to ensure that sanctions are properly enforced. Crime must not pay.”

Spain’s Minister of Justice Pilar Llop, representing the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU, updated the meeting on the latest initiatives taken at EU level to combat the impunity of Russia’s actions. In March, PES justice ministers called for stronger enforcement and harmonisation of EU sanctions. Since then, the first trilogues have taken place on the confiscation and asset recovery directive and on the proposed directive on the definition of sanctions.

Since the start of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the PES has strongly supported Ukraine and condemned Russia’s illegal war and the atrocities and reported war crimes that it has committed.

The meeting also exchanged on EU relations with Latin America, noting the highly successful EU-CELAC Summit and PES EU-CELAC leaders meeting held earlier this year. Building on this work, ministers called for a strengthening of information and intelligence sharing to ensure that no criminals escape justice in the EU because of a lack of cross-bordering cooperation with judicial authorities in Latin America.

On the issue of digital empowerment and fundamental rights, Ministers underlined that digitalisation must first and foremost benefit people. Therefore, the right to access quality services, digital cohesion, the promotion of digital fundamental rights and media literacy, and the importance of data protection must be clear objectives for progressive forces. Ministers also discussed the need to create a safe digital environment where fundamental rights are protected. This approach is at the heart of the progressive digital agenda because fundamental rights are the cornerstone of healthy and democratic societies. The PES will always fight against discrimination and barriers in digital spaces for vulnerable people.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Igor Šoltes, State Secretary for Justice, Slovenia
  • Catarina Sarmento e Castro, Minister for Justice, Portugal
  • Pilar Llop, Minister for Justice, Spain