An important human rights organization has declared Vladimir Putin to be a “wanted man” after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest order for him on charges of war crimes in Ukraine.
The Russian president is the subject of a warrant that seeks to extradite him to The Hague, Netherlands, to stand trial for allegedly smuggling Ukrainian minors into his nation.
Since the beginning of the large-scale invasion, reports by the UN, many human rights organizations, and the US-based Conflict Observatory have described a “vast network” of detention centers and convoys.
The charges laid down by the ICC this afternoon relate to the ‘unlawful deportation’ of children from occupied areas of Ukraine into Russia and states that there are grounds to believe the two suspects bear ‘criminal responsibility’ for the alleged crimes.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is working to document war crimes and has previously told of ‘unspeakable stories’ regarding alleged executions, torture, rape and looting by Moscow’s troops.
Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director, said: ‘This is a big day for the many victims of crimes committed by Russian forces in Ukraine since 2014. With these arrest warrants, the ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long.
‘The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit or tolerating serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague. The court’s warrants are a wakeup call to others committing abuses or covering them up that their day in court may be coming, regardless of their rank or position.’
In April last year, HRW crisis and conflict director Ida Sawyer spoke of harrowing cases of human rights abuses by the Kremlin’s troops.
Victims and witnesses who spoke to the non-profit organisation told of rape, summary executions, unlawful violence and threats.
Cases of ‘forcible transfers’ of Ukrainian civilians into Russia or other occupied areas have also been documented by the group in what it has described as ‘a potential crime against humanity’.
International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin
The warrant for Mr Putin and another for Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, relate to the alleged trafficking of children across the border into Russia.
ICC president Piotr Hofmanksi said: ‘It is forbidden by international law for occupying powers to transfer civilians from the territory they live in to other territories.
‘Children enjoy special protection under the Geneva Convention.’
Mr Hofmanski added: ‘This is an important moment in the process of justice before the ICC.
‘The judges have reviewed the information and evidence submitted by the prosecutor and contend there are credible allegations against these persons for the alleged crimes.
‘The ICC is doing its hard work as a court of law, the judges issued arrest warrants, the execution depends on international co-operation.’