Our priorities

Our priority is the security of the information entrusted to us. We obtain and store it in order to pass it on to the competent authorities with the power to prosecute crimes committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022 and to the authorities that will develop reparation programmes for the victims of these crimes in the future. No information entrusted to us will be used for any other purpose.

Description of the Project

The concept of a network of entities collecting information concerning crimes committed in Ukraine since 24 February 2022, while protecting the confidentiality of sources, is based on the following:

  1. Since the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, there have been multiple reports of potential violations of international humanitarian law and other atrocity crimes. In the face of these events, over 13 million Ukrainians have left their homeland to seek shelter in neighbouring countries, of whom more than 4 000 000 came to Poland.

  2. Many of these displaced persons have witnessed the cruellest crimes imaginable in the modern world, and the scale of their suffering is striking. This cannot be ignored and forgotten. Their need to share their own experiences and testimonies is understandable. Being heard would help them to have their dignity restored and make their suffering meaningful.

  3. There is a need to identify potential witnesses for the ongoing investigation of the situation in Ukraine by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, as well as current and future investigations by the national prosecutor's offices into crimes committed in Ukraine. At the same time, there is also a need to identify victims for future reparation proceedings, whether at the international or national level.

  4. The number of potential witnesses to the crimes committed in Ukraine is enormous, and no justice system is able to cope with the sheer volume of information they possess. Past experience in international and domestic criminal proceedings for such crimes indicates that only a few of the victims will testify before prosecutors, and even fewer will testify on the stand in a court. Therefore, it is important to collect information regarding evidence of such crimes. This project is designed to be complementary to the activities of state authorities or any international courts established to prosecute and adjudicate war crimes, war against humanity, genocide, aggression, or other serious human rights violations connected to the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  5. Digital technology provides new opportunities for qualitative and quantitative analyses of large volumes of information. Any person willing to share his/her war story will be assured that any information provided will be safely stored and used to preserve the historical truth even if not used in criminal proceedings. It is a priority to collect such information for this purpose and ensure the confidentiality of the data of any person providing such information concerning the crimes committed in Ukraine.

  6. The provision of information will be done on a voluntary basis, while ensuring that the information provided can be subsequently supplemented at any stage of its collection.

  7. Project Sunflowers addresses the need to collect information about evidence and victims of crimes committed in Ukraine, which can be used in future criminal proceedings against those responsible for such crimes. At the same time, it makes it possible to hear the war stories of Ukrainian refugees who may never be called to testify before a prosecutor or a court.

  8. The founders of the Project Sunflowers are the Peace and Justice Initiative, the Polish group of the International Association of Penal Law (AIDP), the Ukrainian group of AIDP, the Pravo Justice Project, the Centre for IHL and Transitional Justice, the Polish Bar Council, the Association of Legal Intervention and Ewa Hofmańska. The initiators of the Project would like to spread the word among NGOs, and professional service providers, and include EU and international initiatives in the existing Project as partners or collaborators. The more actors involved in the Project, including in the countries that have received refugees, the more effective the achievement of the objective will be.

  9. The goal of this cooperation is to establish a network of lawyers, who will collect the information on evidence and harm suffered as a result of crimes committed in Ukraine from the refugees, while protecting their confidentiality. It will serve as a potential source of information for criminal proceedings and for the preservation of the historical truth.

Origin of the Project name

Sunflowers have been a beloved symbol of Ukrainian national identity. Now, due to Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine since 24 February 2022, this flower is seen by many as a ‘global symbol of resistance, unity and hope’. 
It owes its revived fame above all to a brave Ukrainian woman from the town of Henychesk who, seeing Russian soldiers, approached them, telling them that they were occupiers, fascists and enemies. She then wanted to give them sunflower seeds, telling them to put them in their pockets, so that at least something pretty would grow out of them when they all lay down (were defeated/died).

Sunflowers have a strong presence in Ukrainian folklore and culture, appearing in cuisine, legends, literature and painting for many years. In the past, the sunflower grew in practically every garden, and huge fields of sunflowers could be seen on the skyline, strongly referring to Ukraine's flag in yellow and blue. Today, sunflowers are a key component of the Ukrainian economy, with Ukraine and Russia contributing upward of 70-80 % of global sunflower oil exports.