The International Criminal Court announced on Friday that it has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in child abductions from Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that Putin “would be responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (of children) and illegal transfer of population (of children) from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”.
He also issued an arrest warrant on Friday for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the President of the Russian Federation, for similar allegations.
The ICC said its pre-trial chamber concluded that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine. to the Russian Federation, to the detriment of Ukrainian children.
Over the past year, the prosecution – along with the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office – has collected evidence from a multitude of countries and individual sources. Pamela Falk from CBS News reported earlier this week, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan was set to seek arrest warrants for people involved in the alleged abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
Earlier this month, Khan visited Ukraine for the fourth time. “I leave Ukraine feeling that the momentum for justice is accelerating,” he said in a statement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to the arrest warrants with a statement saying, “The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no significance for our country, including from a legal point of view. Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. and assumes no obligation hereunder.”
Lvova-Belova, accused of spearheading the child transfer scheme, has defended her conduct. “What I want to say: first of all, it’s great that the international community has appreciated the work to help the children of our country, that we are not leaving them in the war zone, that we are taking them out, that we are creating good conditions for them, surround them with loving and caring people,” she said.
An indictment of Cheese fries would make the president of Russia a international fugitivereported David Martin of CBS News.
“It’s not easy for a head of state to fear arrest when he sets foot in a European country or a North American country,” said Chief Crimes Prosecutor Judge Richard Goldstone. of war committed in Bosnia in the 1990s.
Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, the State Department official tasked with gathering evidence that could help prove Russia is committing war crimes in Ukraine, told Martin: “He is now inevitably trapped in Russia. He will never be able to travel abroad, because there is too great a risk that he will be captured and brought before a court.”
The same goes for any other Russian accused of war crimes.
“They will enjoy some impunity while in Russia,” Van Schaack said, “but what we’ve seen is that the perpetrators don’t stay in their home country. They want to shop in Europe or go on vacation somewhere, and they get identified, and then law enforcement is activated, and we’re never more integrated than we are now.
Alex Whiting, a Harvard law professor who worked in the ICC prosecutor’s office, told CBS News: “Issuing arrest warrants is the first step to securing accountability for war crimes – it signals that there is evidence that war crimes have been committed and that identified individuals are responsible and that those charged will forever be at risk of arrest or surrender, particularly if they travel to any of the 123 states members of the Court.”
President Biden has called Putin a “war criminal” and called him to face a trialbut the United States is not part of the International Criminal Court, having never ratified the treaty that created the institution.
CBS News investigated allegations torture And war crimes committed in Ukraine by Russian forces since the start of the invasion. In August, CBS News correspondent Chris Livesay spoke with Ukrainian children taken against their will to Russian territory, then rescued and brought back to Ukraine.
A February report from the Yale School of Public Health’s Humanitarian Research Laboratory, sponsored by the US State Department, concluded that “all levels of the Russian government are involved” in the transfer of children from Ukraine. .
“We have identified at least 43 facilities in this network of camps, institutions that host or have hosted Ukrainian children. This network extends from one end of Russia to the other,” said the director of the laboratory, Nathaniel Raymond, during a press briefing. February 14th.
“The main purpose of the camps appears to be political re-education,” he said, but added that children from several camps were then “placed with Russian foster families or some form of adoption system. “.
–Pamela Falk, David Martin and Camilla Schick contributed reporting.