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Putin's arrest warrant: What legal authority does the ICC have to pursue the Russian leader?

The International Criminal Court has never before issued an arrest warrant for one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. , .

By srinikethanPublished 8 days ago 4 min read

On March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for Vladimir Putin's arrest for allegedly transferring and deporting minors from seized parts of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The crimes are said to have been perpetrated starting on February 24, 2022, in occupied territory. According to a news release posted on the ICC website, Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia's Commissioner for Child Rights, was also the subject of an arrest order in addition to Putin.

What justifies the issuance of the arrest warrants?

According to sections 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(viii) of the Rome Statute, Putin and Belova are accused of committing the war crime of wrongful expulsion and transfer of children from Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.

The latter refers to the deportation or transfer of the population of the occupied territory within or outside of its territory, while the former refers to the "unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement" by an occupying power of its own civilian population into the occupied territory, whether directly or indirectly.

According to the ICC, there are good reasons to believe that Putin is personally responsible for the crimes of I directly committing the acts under article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute, (ii) failing to exercise proper control over civilian and military subordinates under his effective authority, thereby committing or permitting the commission of the acts under article 28(b) of the Rome Statute.

What is the ICC?

The Rome Statute, a 1998 treaty, is what gave rise to the International Criminal Court, which has its main office in The Hague, Netherlands. It "investigates and, where warranted, brings cases against those accused of the most serious offences of concern to the world community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and the crime of aggression."

The Rome Statute now has 123 parties, including Britain, Japan, Afghanistan, and Germany. The USA, on the other hand, has remained neutral, arguing that the ICC should not have authority over nationals of nations that are not parties to it. China and India have also declined to join, in a similar manner.

Only when a nation's own legal system is ineffective, as it was in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, can the ICC step in to pursue the most egregious crimes. The ICC brings cases against people, as opposed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which handles international and interstate conflicts. The ICC's authority, however, is restricted to crimes committed after its implementation on July 1, 2002.

In addition, the crimes must be committed either in a nation that ratified the agreement or by a citizen of one. The UN Security Council may refer matters to the ICC in order for it to exercise its authority in those situations.

Can Russia be brought to justice by the ICC?

While Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the measure would lead to "historic accountability", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov remarked that Moscow thought this "outrageous and unacceptable". He said that because Russia is not a member of the ICC, any decision made by the court is "null and worthless," according to Reuters.

Putin now faces the possibility of being detained whenever he travels as a result of this action. The New York Times claims that this action will further deepen his isolation and restrict his travel abroad, in addition to the Western sanctions already in place. In addition, if he visits a state party to the ICC, that nation is obligated to detain him in accordance with international law.

Also, this is the first time that one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council has been the target of an arrest warrant from the ICC.

An ICC prosecutor attempted to press charges of war crimes against Joseph Kony, a rebel from Uganda and the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, in November 2022. Despite being charged with murder, brutal treatment, slavery, rape, and using kidnapped children as soldiers, Kony is still at large and unharmed.

Recognizes Ukraine the jurisdiction of the ICC?

According to the ICC's official website, "Ukraine is not a State Party to the Rome Statute", but it has twice exercised its options to accept ICC's jurisdiction over alleged crimes under the Rome Statute, occurring on its territory, under Article 12(3) of the Statute.

According to Article 12(3), if a state that is not a party to the statute is obliged to acknowledge the court's jurisdiction over the offence in question, the state may do so by declaring this to the Registrar and cooperating without delay or exception.Read more...


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