United Nations — On March 2, 2022, just one week after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Kahn opened an investigation into alleged war crimes committed in the country at the request of 43 people. Countries that are States Parties to the Court. Just over a year later, prosecutors are set to open two war crimes cases, as first reported by The New York Times and Reuters, and seek arrest warrants for those involved in the abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
Over the past year, the prosecution – as well as the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office – has been collecting evidence from many countries and private sources.
CBS News last month investigated alleged torture and war crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine. In August, CBS News reporterThose who were taken against their will to Russian territory, then rescued and brought back to Ukraine.
“Given the growing number of perpetrators and victims, prosecuting Russia’s horrific atrocities will require a comprehensive approach,” State Department Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice Beth Van Schaack told a Senate Judiciary Committee in September.
The United States is not a party to the law that established the court, but Van Schaack said “the State Department is seeking ways to support the ICC in accordance with U.S. law and policy to ensure that the ICC is able to function effectively and fairly, and that its prosecutors have a critical responsibility for atrocity crimes committed in Ukraine.” The bearer may institute charges against foreign nationals.”
It is up to President Biden to decide at this point what information has actually been handed over by US authorities.
Ukraine alreadyin its national court for crimes committed during the invasion, but plans to seek an ICC warrant mark Russia’s first international war crimes case stemming from the war. This is a record-breaking speed for such an international operation.
Earlier this month, the ICC prosecutor visited Ukraine for the fourth time, “so that we can deliver real results and demonstrate the relevance of the rule of law in real time,” he said.
As in the United States,In the Rome Statute, which established the court, but the Ukrainian government has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction over crimes committed on its territory since 2014.
Russia is also not a state party to the court, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified earlier this week that Moscow “does not recognize the jurisdiction” of the ICC.
Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, said, “There is no question that international justice is a long game, and that Russia will not currently cooperate with the ICC, but this move by ICC Prosecutor Khan still has significant value”. CBS News. “An arrest warrant is a direct signal to criminals that their actions will have serious consequences. For example, it took 16 years for Ratko Mladic to be arrested by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, but once arrested, he“
“There’s a strong argument that the ICC had to start these cases to show that Russia can’t assume they can commit crimes with impunity,” Richard Gowan, UN director of the International Crisis Group think tank, told CBS News. “Theoretically, it is possible that this will deter Russian officers and officials from committing further crimes, for fear of one day ending up in court.”
Leila Sadat, a professor of international criminal law at Washington University in St. Louis, who has served as the ICC prosecutor’s special adviser on crimes against humanity since 2012, told CBS News that the court can issue arrest warrants in absentia and be confirmed (similar to a US indictment in absentia). too.
Sadat said that there may be an international arrest warrant.
“There is no immunity before the International Criminal Court for citizens of non-state parties, even high-ranking officials of those non-state parties, assuming they commit crimes in state-party territory, such as Ukraine, a state that has accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction.”
“If you’re on the receiving end, an ICC charge is a serious thing,” Sadat said. “Issuing an arrest warrant is the first step in achieving accountability for war crimes – it indicates that there is evidence that war crimes have been committed and that the identified individuals are responsible for them and that the accused will be at risk of permanent arrest or surrender, especially if they travel to one of the 123 states that are members of the court. does,” Harvard Law School visiting professor Alex Whiting, who has worked in the ICC Prosecutor’s Office for three years, told CBS News.
“Many defendants tried for war crimes at international tribunals never thought they would face trial when indicted, but over time, the political wheels can turn and suddenly the accused find themselves in a courtroom,” Whiting said.
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