Visiting Professor of Penn State Law
Closing the Impunity Gap for War Crimes in Ukraine
DATE: April 11, 2023 6:00 pm
LOCATION: World Trade Center Baltimore
On March 17, the International Criminal Court in the Hague announced the most extraordinary
arrest warrants in its 22-year history — for Vladimir Putin, the President of the Russian federation,
and Maria Lvova-Belova, his Commissioner for Children’s Rights. The charge was war crimes:
the deportation of thousands of children from conquered Ukraine territory into Russia. The 123
countries that are party to the court’s founding statute (the U.S. is not) now have an obligation to
arrest Putin and his aide.
If that happens, it will not be peaceful: top aide Dmitri Medvedev says arresting Putin would
be declaring war on Russia. He warned Germany that if it acted against Putin, Russian missiles
would soon fly into the Chancellor’s office and the Bundestag.
What happens now? Is there a chance Putin will be arrested and sent to the Hague for trial? If
not, how will he brought to account? Or will there be impunity?
To answer these questions and more, we’ve invited one of the country’s top experts on
international justice to speak on April 11. Professor Dermott Groome is a professor at Penn State’s
Dickenson College of Law who spent spent 11 years as top prosecutor at the Hague Tribunal set
up for the former Yugoslavia. He led the investigation, indictment and trial of Slobodan Milosevic,
the former Serbian president, the first head of state indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity
and war crimes. He was chief prosecutor in the cases of Serb military leader Gen. Radko Mladic
and other top Serbian figures.
Now he’s part of the group advising the Ukraine chief prosecutor on the 65,000 war crimes
cases they’re now investigating. If western prosecutors are brought in to assist the Ukraine,
Professor Groome is sure to be on that list.
The title of his presentation is: Universal Jurisdiction: Closing the Impunity Gap for Crimes
Committed in Ukraine.
One of Professor Groome’s great skills is boiling down legal theory to understandable language.
You can get a sampling from listening to the lecture series he prepared for Ukrainian war crimes
prosecutors and investigators or from reading his Handbook of Human Rights Investigation.
A law graduate of Boston College, Professor Groome began his career in the Manhattan
District Attorney’s office. He worked in the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights and advised the Minister of Justice and the courts as well as Legal Aid of Cambodia. Last
year, Penn State gave him its President’s Award for Academic Integration and credited him for
developing legal processes and doctrines that will guide international prosecutors and lawyers “for
decades to come” as well as educating “a new generation of lawyer leaders for decades to come.”
The citation added: “While he has set the standard for delivering justice to survivors of atrocity
crimes, his level of humility has reached the highest of heights.”