International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan visits the site of a residential building damaged by Russian missile fire in late November 2022, in the town of Vyshhorod, near Kiev, February 28, 2023. VALENTYN OGIRENKO / REUTERS
In the photos, Karim Khan, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), wore bulletproof vest and heavy helmet, as he traveled to southern Ukraine on Thursday, March 2, with the aim of ‘y “visiting sites linked to allegations of child deportation”, as the ICC announced on social media. Mr. Khan, who has been investigating crimes committed in Ukraine for a year, began his fourth visit to the country earlier this week.
“It is very important for Ukrainian society, especially for future generations, that you can focus on the cases of deportation of our children,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told prosecutor in interview organized at the start of this visit, on 28 February, in the presence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, and the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Andriy Kostin. The ICC prosecutor is investigating the cases of deportations to Russia of Ukrainian children and several sources have indicated to Le Monde that he “plans to issue arrest warrants” on these facts in the near future.
Since the beginning of the war, on February 24, 2022, NGOs and researchers have documented a program of deportation and adoption of Ukrainian children in Russia. In a report published in November 2022, Amnesty International explained that children “orphaned or separated from their families by the fighting” are offered to Russian families, in return for payment. As of March 3, 16,221 children have been deported from occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia, according to the National Information Bureau, a Ukrainian government body that registers prisoners of war and missing civilians.
Moscow does not hide it
For Amnesty International, the facts could be qualified as crimes against humanity for deportation. In its report published in November 2022, the human rights organization denounces “a state policy”.
Moscow, moreover, does not hide it, going so far as to affirm that this policy serves a just cause. Russia claims its “humanitarian action” to protect and “save” orphaned or abandoned children. As early as March 11, 2022, the Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, and the authorities of the self-proclaimed republics of Luhansk and Donetsk, began to organize the transport of children to Russia. In May, Vladimir Putin signed a decree to facilitate access to Russian nationality for Ukrainians and measures have been taken to promote adoptions and the integration of children. In a report released in mid-February, researchers from the American University Yale (Connecticut) mention the existence of forty-three camps “aimed at re-educating Ukrainian children according to the standards of Russian education”.
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