Home INTERNATIONAL International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Putin for “illegal deportation of Ukrainian children”

International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Putin for “illegal deportation of Ukrainian children”

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Vladimir Putin, in Moscow this Friday.
Vladimir Putin, in Moscow this Friday.Sputnik (via Reuters)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) this Friday issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his alleged responsibility in the forced deportation of Ukrainian minors from the occupied territories. This is a war crime for which the court also points to Maria Lvova-Belova, the Kremlin commissioner for the rights of children. The Ukrainian government estimates that 16,221 minors have been deported from the country since the Russian invasion, which has been over a year.

Since Russia is not a member of the ICC and does not recognize its jurisdiction, the judges sought the support of the international community to carry out the two arrests. These can only happen in two cases: either the accused traveled to a country that is part of this court and was ready to arrest them, or that there was a regime change in Russia that required Putin and Lvova-Belova to be extradited. will allow. , Putin is the third president to receive an arrest warrant from the ICC after Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

“This is just the beginning,” said Andrey Yermak, the head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office. The European Union, which is trying to carry out various projects to obtain reparations for Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, defined the international tribunal’s decision as “very important”. “The seriousness of the crimes and the declaration of the International Criminal Court speak for themselves,” said Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Policy and Defence. “This is only the beginning of the accountability process and Russia and its leader are being held accountable for the crimes and atrocities they are perpetrating in Ukraine,” Borrell said.

After reviewing the evidence presented by the prosecutor’s office, the judge believes there are “reasonable grounds for holding responsibility” of Putin and Lvova-Belova in the illegal deportation of minors to Russia from Ukraine’s occupied territories. The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, has said the deportations “demonstrate an intention to permanently remove the children.” (ucranios) He said it was necessary to ensure that the children were returned to their families and communities.

The court is the only permanent instance to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide. It also has the right to do so with the crime of aggression – the invasion of Ukraine, in this case – but it hits a single wall: Russia is not one of its member states. Therefore, the possibility of creating a special international court is being considered to fill this legal vacuum. The European Parliament supports its establishment. Ukraine is also not a member of the CFI, but has accepted its jurisdiction.

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The contents of the arrest warrants are secret to protect the identities of the victims, but the CFI has declared them “in the interests of justice and to prevent the commission of new crimes,” as explained by Hoffmannsky. In the document, it can be read that Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who was born on October 7, 1952, as the President of Russia, is “allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of the population (entre ellos, niños)” and illegal relocation of the population from the occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia. The crimes were allegedly committed from at least February 24, 2022 (fecha de la invasión a gran escala). He insisted that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that Putin bears personal criminal responsibility for those crimes. According to the Rome Statute, the TPI’s founding text, the Russian President will be responsible “to act directly in conjunction with and/or through others”. and “for not exercising sufficient control over civilian and military subordinates performing the acts.” In the case of Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova, this is only the first clause of the charge.

Maria Lvova-Belova, meeting with Putin, in Moscow last February.
Maria Lvova-Belova, meeting with Putin, in Moscow last February.Sputnik (via Reuters)

The court, which judges only those most responsible for the gravest crimes of international justice, does not have a police force to arrest those it charges. So it depends on whether its 123 member states agree to do so or not. In this case, since it is the President of Russia, international cooperation is particularly relevant: if Putin travels abroad, he can be arrested right now.

Moscow: “Outrageous and unacceptable”

Moscow – which denies the war crimes allegations despite evidence provided by the Ukrainian government and investigations by media and human rights organizations – has rejected The Hague’s decision. “We believe that the very formulation of the question is outrageous and unacceptable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. “Russia, like many states, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. As a result, any such decision is null and void for Russia, Peskov insisted, according to the Interfax agency.

The decision has sparked some mistrust among Russian citizens and resentment in Kremlin circles, which see the hand of the United States behind the decision. “Yankees, take your hands off Putin!” Russian parliament speaker Viacheslav Volodin cried on his Telegram channel. “Any attack against the Russian president is aggression against our country,” he said.

The forcible deportation of the population of an occupied territory by the occupying forces – regardless of age – is prohibited by international justice. In the case of minors, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine describes it as a war crime, and states that there is evidence of these illegal transfers. In the first report prepared by its experts, published this Thursday, it indicated that Russia grants nationality to deported Ukrainian children and leaves them with foster families “to foster an environment where some permanent Can live from.

Although forced transfers are supposed to be only temporary, “most are long and parents and children have many problems maintaining contact.” Eyewitnesses have told members of this UN commission that “the youngest are at risk of permanently losing contact with their parents.” For all these reasons, it has been concluded that the forced deportation of Ukrainian children “violates international humanitarian law and constitutes a war crime.” The Commission has not been able to verify the figure of 16,221 minors deported, cited by the Ukrainian authorities.

In March 2022, the Ukrainian government had already accused Russia of forcibly sending thousands of people, including children, to its territory. In the same year, Amnesty International noted that Russian and Russian-controlled forces “forcibly relocated civilians from occupied Ukraine to areas under Russian control.” During the process, “boys and girls were separated from their families,” according to the NGO, in violation of international humanitarian law. A Washington-backed report by Yale University researchers revealed Russia held at least 6,000 Ukrainian minors in 43 camps and facilities as part of a “massive structural network”.

Russia publicly welcomes the program that takes thousands of Ukrainian children out of Russia, but disguises it as a humanitarian operation to protect abandoned or orphaned children in Ukrainian territories held by the Kremlin. This Friday, Kremlin commissioner Lvova-Belova tried to sell her arrest warrant as recognition of her work in an atmosphere of Russophobia. “It is great that the international community has given importance to the work of helping the children of our country (Moscú se ha anexionado cuatro regiones ucranias ocupadas de forma ilegal) that we do not leave them in war zones, that we take them out , that we create good conditions for them, that we surround them with loving, affectionate people”, he said.

Estonia: “One Step Closer to Judgment Day”

The arrest warrant against Putin and the head of his child deportation program has generated a cascade of reactions. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kailas welcomed The Hague’s decision. “(Estamos) One step closer to verdict. With this move TPI sends a historic signal. “All atrocities against Ukraine stem from the criminal policy of the Russian leadership (…). It’s a reminder that no one can escape punishment, not even heads of state. The Russian regime must be held accountable”, he assured.

Poland, another country that has provided the most aid to Ukraine and which, like the Baltic countries, has been warning against the Kremlin’s imperialist policy for years, also hailed the TPI’s passage. “Putin should be tried as a war criminal along with others responsible for atrocities in Ukraine,” said a Polish government spokesman.

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