The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin and his Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova for the “illegal deportation” of Ukrainian children.
The court’s pre-trial judges assessed that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect is responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of the population and illegal transfer of the population from the occupied territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation to the detriment of Ukrainian children.”.
Magistrates considered issuing secret warrants, but decided that making them public could “prevent further offences”.
Moscow has stated that it does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, not even from a legal point of view,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on her Telegram channel. “Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and has no obligations under it.”
Andriy Yermak, chief of staff of the President of Ukraine, was pleased with the news social mediaadds: “It’s just the beginning.”
Wayne Jordash, an international human rights lawyer based in Kyiv and managing partner at Global Rights Compliance, agreed that the bans on Putin and Lvova-Belova are likely to be the first of many.
“There will be more in the coming months. This has to be a kind of warning shot across the bow. This is a prosecutor who is just getting something to happen,” Jordash said. International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan began investigating war crimes in Ukraine more than a year ago.
The Russian leadership has been completely open about taking Ukrainian children to Russia and placing them in camps or adopting them into Russian families. On February 16, Lvova-Belova appeared on television to tell Putin about the program, revealing that she herself had “adopted” a 15-year-old child from Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine that had been destroyed and occupied by Russian forces.
“Now I know what it means to be the mother of a child from Donbas. It’s hard, but we definitely love each other. I believe we can handle everything, Lvova-Belova told Putin during a meeting at her Novo-Ogaryovo apartment near Moscow.
The televised debate may have been a factor in Khan’s decision to issue his first requests for arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova.
“There is a clear case against Putin here,” Jordash said. So I think it’s good to see the prosecutor’s focus on children’s rights. I think international prosecutors haven’t done this in the last 20 years, so this is a good point because it’s one of the worst crimes committed.
Balkees Jarrah, deputy director of international law at Human Rights Watch, said:
“With these arrest warrants, the ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step in ending the impunity that has fueled the perpetrators of Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long.
“The possession orders send a clear message that ordering or approving serious crimes against civilians can lead to a prison cell in The Hague. Court orders are a wake-up call to others who commit wrongdoing or cover up that their day of justice may be coming, regardless of their status or status.