With news of civilian casualties mounting in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it becomes clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin is deliberately attacking non-combatants as part of his military strategy. The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, has announced that they have initiated investigations on the alleged war crimes, genocide, and other crimes against humanity that Russia may have committed.

The process to start the investigation was greatly expedited after 39 nations, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, submitted their referral for the investigation to the ICC. This allowed Khan to bypass months’ worth of work needed to get approval from the court in The Hague. According to Khan, an “advanced team” of investigators was already sent to Ukraine.

In a segment with BBC 4 Radio, the British lawyer shared how the gesture from the countries “allows us to jump-start investigations” and was proof of the international community’s growing concerns on the events in Ukraine.

“Individuals have rights to have their interests vindicated and for justice to prevail. That can only take place if [the] evidence is independently and impartially collected and assessed and then in due course, decisions can be made regarding whether or not there’s criminal responsibility, and then the judges ultimately will decide,” said Khan.

The investigation of the ICC will go back as far as 2013, during the events that lead to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, at least 536 civilian lives, 13 of which are children, have been lost since February 24. These lives have been lost due to the Russian bombardment of civilian structures. However, some researchers and the Ukrainian government itself say that the real figure is much higher, with the latter claiming casualties of upwards of 2,000. More so, over 1 million refugees have now been displaced from Ukraine, according to the UN Refugee Agency.