The war in Ukraine: What are the risks for Vladimir Putin after the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court?


Russia’s judicial establishment announced Friday that the Russian leader is on trial for the war crime of “illegal deportation” of children.

Can Vladimir Putin be tried for war crimes in Ukraine? The International Criminal Court opened the door to this possibility on Friday 17 March. The International Tribunal is based in The Hague, Netherlands He issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president for a war crime “illegal deportation” Ukrainian children since the beginning of the Russian invasion at the end of February 2022. This decision has been particularly praised by the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, and has been described as“Historical” By Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. However, the possibility of arresting the head of the Kremlin is small.

What are the charges in the arrest warrant?

“Today, 17 March 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for two individuals in connection with the situation in Ukraine: Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Maria Alekseevna Lvova-Bilova,” Says the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Russia The International Criminal Court in a statement (in English). Russian leader “Alleged to be responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (children) and illegal transfer of population (children) from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation,” Is it detailed.

>> War in Ukraine: deportation of Ukrainian children, the Kremlin’s weapon of massive “Russification”.

According to the court, there is Reasonable grounds to believe that Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for the above crimes.that could have been committed On occupied Ukrainian territory at least as of February 24, 2022.. Calls the International Criminal Court in its jurisdiction Article 8 of the Rome Statutethe founding treaty, which includes in the war crimes acts “banish” or “illegal transfer” the people.

Can the Russian leader be arrested?

Yes… in theory. The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, confirmed to AFP when asked about the possibility of arresting Vladimir Putin if he went to One of the 123 states party to the Rome Statute.

Interview by the Swiss daily newspaper the timeAndrew Clapham, professor of international law, goes further. Article 8 of the Rome Statute means that it is a grave breach of Fourth Geneva Convention in its Article 147he points to. This means that Vladimir Putin can be arrested in any country in the world. Every country on the planet has ratified the Geneva Conventions, including Russia.”

But according to Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School, quoted by AFP, The chances of Vladimir Putin being arrested are slim.. The first hurdle is physical. The ICC does not have its own police force, and as such it relies on the goodwill of states. Implementation of mandates “Depend on international cooperation”, confirms the head of the International Criminal Court, Piotr Hofmansky. If the state authorities do not act, the court cannot arrest. This is how former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was able to travel to several African countries in 2017 without worry, despite an arrest warrant against him from the International Criminal Court.

If Ukraine, which is not an official member of the international court, accepts its jurisdiction in the context of the conflict, allowing the latter to prosecute Vladimir Putin, then Russia is not a member of the ICC. In 2016, after the court opened an investigation into the 2008 war in Georgia, Moscow withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute. “Russia, like a number of countries, does not recognize the jurisdiction of this court. Therefore, from the point of view of law, the decisions of this court are null and void,” A spokesman for the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said following the announcement of the arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin.

In other words, the Russian authorities have no intention of arresting its leader, “Unless there is a regime change in Russia,” Cecily Rose, professor of public international law at Leiden University (Netherlands), told AFP. It is therefore unlikely that the Russian leader will end up behind bars or be sentenced, especially since, as attorney Jane Sulzer reminded us, In franceinfo March 2022And The International Criminal Court does not prosecute the accused in his absence.

Have heads of state ever been arrested and tried for war crimes?

Yes, many political and military leaders have been prosecuted for war crimes, remembers Karim Khan. “There are so many examples of people who thought they were above the law.” And from “They found themselves in court,” Notes with AFP. Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo is in prison After his arrest in 2011, he was charged with crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, which eventually acquitted him.

The International Criminal Court has Convicted in 2012 Charles Taylor, a former warlord who became President of Liberia, for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Six years ago, in 2006, former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell in The Hague while being tried for genocide by the Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In 2008, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was arrested and convicted of genocide by this same court. its military commander, Ratko Mladic, arrested in 2011 and sentenced life imprisonment.


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