The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President, Vladimir Putin, and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, over alleged “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children. The ICC, based in The Hague, said that Russia, a non-member of the court, is accused of committing war crimes, and it is unclear how the arrest warrant will be enforced.
According to the court, Putin was “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.” The ICC said the crimes dated back to February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. The arrest warrants have been kept secret to protect witnesses and victims, the court said.
The ICC is a court of last resort for crimes that countries cannot or will not prosecute, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the case of Ukraine, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan launched an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity just days after Russia’s invasion.
Khan stated that the alleged abductions of children “are being investigated by my office as a priority.” The ICC prosecutor has described Ukraine as a “crime scene.” It is worth noting that neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, but Kyiv has accepted the court’s jurisdiction and is working with Khan’s office.
The warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova have been issued for their role in the deportation of Ukrainian children. According to the ICC, the Russian President “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.” Khan, who visited Ukraine earlier this month, has confirmed that the ICC is investigating attacks on “critical civilian infrastructure” in Ukraine.
The ICC prosecutor said he had a “sense that the momentum towards justice is accelerating.” The alleged crimes against children are considered to be a priority by the ICC.