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War Crimes Arrest Warrant

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown, faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes against children. (Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo)


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The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes. The court cites his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine. (See Drastic Measures in Ukraine.)

The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

It also issued a similar warrant Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova. She is the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation.

So how does an international court arrest a nation’s president? Piotr Hofmanski addressed that question in a video statement. He is the ICC president. He says that the court has no police force of its own. Therefore, it is up to the international community to enforce the court’s orders.

“The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law. The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation,” says Hofmanski.

A possible trial of any Russians at the ICC remains a long way off. Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction. It does not extradite its nationals. That means that it does not surrender potential criminals to outside courts.

Ukraine also is not a member of the court. It has, however, granted the ICC jurisdiction over its territory. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan opened an investigation a year ago. He has visited the embattled country four times since then.

The ICC says that its pre-trial chamber found “reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions. The statement says he is responsible “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others, and/or through others.” He is also responsible “for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.”

The United Nations also conducted a sweeping investigation. It found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian territory. These included deporting Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families. Torture and inhumane detention conditions also made the list.

But on Friday, the ICC put the individual face of Putin—not just a broad stroke of the Russian nation—on the child abduction allegations.

(Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown, faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes against children. Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo)