Putin is back in global spotlight. International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his presidential commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, over allegations of war crimes related to the forceful deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children.
The ICC’s decision obliges its 123 member states to arrest and transfer Putin to The Hague for trial if he sets foot in their territory. However, the move was largely symbolic, and Moscow immediately dismissed it, while Ukraine welcomed it as a major breakthrough.
The ICC statement alleged that Putin was responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and the unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The court believes there are reasonable grounds to hold Putin criminally responsible for these crimes, which were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory from at least 24 February 2022.
Over the past year, reports have suggested that Russian forces seized orphan children from schools and orphanages in the Kherson region during their eight-month occupation of the area. At least 1,000 children were said to have been taken to Russia. Moscow has repeatedly denied allegations of atrocities committed during the invasion.
ICC alleges that Putin and Belova committed war crime of unlawful deportation
ICC alleges that Putin and Belova committed the war crime of unlawfully deporting and transferring children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. These allegations fall under articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute.
The former pertains to the “unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement,” while the latter concerns the direct or indirect transfer of a civilian population by an occupying power into an occupied territory or the deportation or transfer of the population of the occupied territory within or outside its territory.
The ICC believes that there are reasonable grounds to hold Putin individually criminally responsible for committing the acts directly, jointly with others, and/or through others under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute. They also allege that he failed to properly exercise control over civilian and military subordinates under his effective authority, thereby committing or allowing the commission of such acts, as per article 28(b) of the Rome Statute.
The ICC is headquartered in The Hague, Netherlands, and was established under the 1998 treaty called the “Rome Statute.” Its mandate is to investigate and, where warranted, try individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community, such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression.
Currently, 123 countries are party to the Rome Statute, including Britain, Japan, Afghanistan, and Germany. However, the USA has chosen not to participate, arguing that the ICC should not exercise jurisdiction over citizens of countries that are not party to it. Similarly, India and China have also abstained from membership.
In response to the ICC’s decision, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov tweeted that Russia does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction and considers any decisions of this kind null and void for the Russian Federation from a legal point of view.