ICC Issues Arrest Warrant against Putin for Ukraine War Crimes
The Hague, Belanda (AP) —
The International Criminal Court (ICC) said Friday it had issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes, over his alleged involvement in the abduction of children from Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that Putin was “allegedly responsible for the war crimes of the illegal deportation of the population (children) and the illegal transfer of the population (children) from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
The ICC also issued an arrest warrant against Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar charges.
ICC president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that although an ICC judge has issued the warrant, it is the international community that will enforce it, as the ICC does not have its own law enforcement officers (police) to enforce the warrant.
“The ICC has done its job as a court of law,” he said. “The judges (ICC) issued an arrest warrant. Its execution depends on international cooperation,” said Hofmanski.
Office of the International Criminal Court in the city of The Hague, Netherlands (photo: doc).
However, the possibility of a trial of any Russian citizen at the ICC is remote, as Moscow does not recognize the jurisdiction of the court in The Hague. This was reiterated Friday by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, in Moscow’s first reaction to the arrest warrant.
“The decision of the International Criminal Court means nothing to our country, including from a legal perspective,” he said.
But Ukrainian officials were very happy to welcome the ICC’s move.
“The world has changed,” said presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “the wheels of Justice are turning,” adding that “international criminals will be held accountable for the theft of children and other international crimes.”
Ukraine is also not a member of the ICC, but has granted it jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited Ukraine four times since opening the investigation a year ago.
The ICC said its pre-trial assembly found “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of the unlawful deportation of residents and the unlawful transfer of residents from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, with prejudice against Ukrainian children.” .”
The ICC statement asserted that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the abduction of a child “for having committed acts directly, jointly with others and/or through other persons (and) for his failure to carry out proper control of the (Russian) civilian and military subordinates who carried out the act.”
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan visits a residential building damaged by a Russian missile attack in late November, in the city of Vyshhorod, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, February 28, 2023 (photo: doc).
After his last visit to Ukraine, in early March, prosecutor ICC Khan said he visited a children’s home about two kilometers from the front line in southern Ukraine.
“The pictures pinned on the walls … speak to the context of love and support that once existed. But this home is empty, due to the alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their unlawful transfer to other parts of the occupied territory temporarily,” Khan said in a statement.
“As I conveyed to the UN Security Council last September, these alleged acts are being investigated by my office (ICC) as a matter of priority. Children cannot be treated as spoils of war,” he added.
And while Russia rejects the accusations and the ICC arrest warrant as “null and void,” many say the ICC’s action will have important implications.
“The ICC has made Putin a fugitive and is taking its first steps towards ending the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate director of international justice at the human rights organization Human Rights Watch.
“The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit, or tolerate, serious crimes against civilians can lead to prison cells in The Hague,” said Jarrah.
The day before Thursday (16/3), a UN-backed investigation cited Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, including torture and systematic killings in occupied Ukrainian territory, among the potential issues that amounted to war crimes and possible crimes against humanity. .
The thorough investigation also uncovered crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian soil, including deported Ukrainian children who were prevented from being reunited with their families, a “screening” system aimed at selecting Ukrainians for detention, and torture and unlawful conditions of detention. human.
On Friday, however, the ICC upheld Putin on charges of child abduction in Ukraine. [pp]