March 30, 2023

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Can international justice threaten Putin?

Global pressure on Vladimir Putin is mounting. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday announced his intention to launch an investigation into the war crimes in Ukraine, citing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” But is the Russian president really being prosecuted by the International Court of Justice?

International voices are being raised condemning the “war crimes” committed by Russian forces sent by Vladimir Putin to Ukraine last Thursday. Since the beginning of the week, the British government has been warning the Russian president to “take responsibility for violating the laws of war”, and Kiev has accused Moscow of planning “genocide” in its territory.

In the same vein, Amnesty International condemns the use of cluster munitions, which were banned in 2010 by an international conference, which it believes should be investigated for “war crimes.”

Suspicions of “war crimes” and “inhumanity.”

On Wednesday evening, a prosecutor from the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that he would launch an inquiry into the situation in Ukraine, citing “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” committed on Ukrainian soil. But is President Putin really dangerous in Russia since 2000?

Kareem Khan, a lawyer for the International Criminal Court, said in a statement that he “believed there was a legitimate basis for believing that alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity had taken place in Ukraine.” To move this forward, Kareem Khan based his initial statement on his predecessor Fatou Bensouda in December 2020. It focuses on the Russian abuses in Ukraine, especially in Donbass, after the Maidan Revolution of November 2013: described as “historically significant”. “By Ukraine.

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He added, however, that “in view of the escalation of the conflict in recent days, he would like to add to this investigation the new crimes (…) committed by any part of the conflict anywhere in Ukraine (…) and that his investigation will be conducted in an” objective and independent manner “. , It also aims to “ensure accountability for crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction”.

Similarly, the Security and Cooperation Organization in Europe has announced that it will set up independent experts to investigate violations of international law by Russia. The Canadian delegation on Thursday said on behalf of the 45 member states that a report must be finalized “within three weeks as a matter of priority” to establish “possible cases related to war crimes” and “submit them to competent courts.”

Cases aimed at his desire for regional expansion?

In theory, Vladimir Putin could be tried on several grounds. Under Rule 8 of the Rome Statute, which establishes the International Criminal Court, “there is The crime of aggression When a government uses the armed forces against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of another state, ”lawyers Emmanuel Dawood and Kamil Thom recalled in an article in the newspaper on Tuesday. The world The dictatorial Russian leader should be put on trial by the ICC.

“This crime must be the act of a leader, that is, a person who is in a position to control or direct the political or military action of a state,” the experts added in international law. “This act of aggression must be created by its nature, its gravity and its magnitude, which is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations.”

But the Russian head of state could be prosecuted under Section 8 of the International Criminal Court, which punishes him. War crimes Defined by the Geneva and The Hague Accords. But that is not all: under Section 7 of Roman law, Vladimir Putin could finally be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. Crimes against humanity, I.e., “deliberate and despicable violation of the fundamental rights of an individual or group of individuals inspired by political, philosophical, racial or religious motives”. In short, “planned” and “widespread attacks on civilians”.

“We have already seen the use of ammunition thrown at innocent civilians since the rule of Vladimir Putin, and it is already my opinion that this is a war crime,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament. Prestigo in the House of Commons galleries.

Legal restrictions

Until then, many heads of state and government have already been convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in 2021: Bosco Nakanda, a former Congolese warlord, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In prison; Or Radko Miladic, a former Serbian army commander who was sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed during the war in Bosnia.

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One of the problems with the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is that Russia does not recognize Rome law (i.e. the International Criminal Court). It actually withdrew its signature in 2016, so it no longer recognizes the jurisdiction of this International Court of Justice within its boundaries. It is necessary for the court to exercise its jurisdiction. Ukraine is not a member, but in 2014 accepted the jurisdiction of the court.

Finally, another problem could make it harder to prosecute a head of state like Putin: in fact, the International Criminal Court can only physically convict persons who are “on their own trial,” and if one of the countries cooperating with the ICC is arrested, he can be arrested on a warrant and trial against the defendant under Article 63 of Roman law. Doing.

But the ICC is limited by the lack of its police force and the willingness of states to arrest suspects on their soil. Under these conditions, it is difficult to know whether such a procedure will succeed.

Jean Blunt BFMTV journalist