Russian President Vladimir Putin . Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS: THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY./File Photo
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for committing war crimes due to his role in kidnapping children from Ukraine.
The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of illegal deportation of population (children) and the illegal transfer of population (children) from the occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”
It also issued an order on Friday for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar charges.
The ICC said its trial chamber found that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect is responsible for the war crime of illegal population deportation and illegal population transfer from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, to the detriment of Ukrainian children.” ”.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan declared this month after a visit to Ukraine that the alleged child abductions were the subject of “priority investigation.”
The court, created in 2002 to judge the worst crimes committed in the world, has been investigating for more than a year possible war crimes or crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine during the Russian offensive.
Neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC, but kyiv accepted the court’s jurisdiction over its territory and works with the prosecutor.
Experts admitted that Moscow was unlikely to hand over the suspects to the court. Russia rejects the war crimes accusations.
Russian official Maria Lvova-Belova arrives in Moscow with a group of boys illegally transferred from the then-occupied city of Mariupol in October last year. (Presidency of the Russian Federation)
On Thursday, a UN-backed investigation cited Russian attacks on civilians in Ukraine, including systematic torture and murder in occupied regions, among potential issues amounting to war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
The wide-ranging investigation also found crimes committed against Ukrainians on Russian soil, including deported Ukrainian children who were prevented from reuniting with their families, a “leak” system meant to target Britain.
In its first report drawn up since Russia began its offensive against Ukraine, on February 24, 2022, the UN Commission of Inquiry concludes that “the situations it examined regarding the transfer and deportation of children, within Ukraine and to the Federation of Russia respectively, violate international humanitarian law and constitute a war crime.”
Vladimir Putin signed a decree in May 2022 to facilitate the granting of Russian citizenship to some minors.
The investigators also accused the Russian government of having committed possible “crimes against humanity.”
“The commission found that the waves of attacks carried out by the Russian armed forces since October 10, 2022 against Ukrainian energy infrastructure, and the resort to torture by the Russian authorities could constitute crimes against humanity,” it noted, recommending that additional investigations be opened.
The group uncovered “a widespread illegal detention scheme” in areas controlled by the Russian armed forces, against a number of people, including women and children.
Last month Lesia Zaburanna, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, denounced that more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022.
Lesia Zaburanna, Member of the Ukrainian Parliament
The parliamentarian assured that in this period another 350 children have been declared missing and a total of 9,510 minors who have been untraceable since the conflict began have been located.
Zaburanna said that the number of minors deported represents 20% of children in Ukraine, noting that at least half were forcibly separated from their parents.
Likewise, the parliamentarian denounced that the little ones are forced to receive Russian political propaganda messages for hours, with the intention of ideologising them in favor of the Kremlin.
“They are renamed and brainwashed,” Zaburanna said.
“Propaganda is a big problem for us because they convince people to go to Russia but then they are prevented from coming back because they sell them a false reality and do not provide them with documents,” said the deputy.
Zaburanna said that most of the children who are taken to Russia are separated from their parents, who are promised documentation, but once they are in Russian territory, the reality is different.
“At least 50% of the children are given Russian citizenship and their names are changed, which makes it difficult for us to identify them later to return them to their parents, they are assured that in Russia they will be better off, they are sold a false reality and then they are separated from their parents by force”, said the parliamentarian.
The member of Parliament assured that once the children are taken to Russia or to the territories occupied by the Kremlin, it is very difficult to protect them because they do not have access to those areas.
He also denounced that this practice, which he described as a “humanitarian crime”, has been carried out by Russia since 2014 when it invaded the territory of Crimea. He assured that since then, more than 40,000 children have been deported to Russian territory and to military-occupied areas.
Daria Herasymchuk, Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation, assured Infobae that “the official number of children who died in the war is 461,” but “it is not the final figure, which we know is it will be greater, because we are still searching for many. There are children that we have not yet identified… On the other hand, the number of children injured today is 927. But at the same time, all the children in the country are psychologically injured in some way. We are talking about 7 million children. Everything that is happening to the children in this war is an act of genocide against our people.”
Daría Herashymuk – Ukraine war anniversary – Infobae in Ukraine
Herasymchuk is the one chosen by Zelensky to recover the minors stolen by Russia.
Likewise, Mykola Kuleba, who is the CEO of the Save Ukraine Foundation, assured that “for every Ukrainian soldier killed, seven children are deported” to Russia and the occupied territories.
He denounced that the Kremlin wants to forcefully convert Ukrainian children into Russians and that they are forced to learn the Russian language and Russian history. He also said that they are subjected to deception.
“They try to convince them that Russia is good for them, they deceive them that they are going to train them playing soccer and it turns out that they are camps, but they prevent them from returning to their country, the parents cannot cross the border to rescue them, which is a crime,” denounced Kuleba.
The former Ombudsman also said that the soldiers promise the boys that “at 17 they will give them apartments to live in.”
Kuleba said that 65% of Ukrainian children still live in the country, but 20% are forcibly held in Russia and the invaded territories, while the rest are scattered around the world.
Irpin, Bucha, Mariupol, Izyum, Zaporizhzhia… All these Ukrainian cities -and more- were transformed into razed land by Vladimir Putin’s troops. But once the Russian forces withdrew, the testimonies already circulating in the media and on social media became evidence of the horror. Because the survivors speak, and the corpses too.
Since States have resorted to war to resolve their conflicts, there have been certain prohibited behaviors, but war crimes as such were established in the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907. At the same time, since 1864, States have been concerned with the protection of victims of armed conflicts. The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the two Additional Protocols of 1977, relating to international humanitarian law, focus on the protection of victims of armed conflicts, understood as persons who do not participate or have ceased to participate in hostilities.
Thus, serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977, as well as those included in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, are understood as war crimes.
The Government of Volodimir Zelensky, Western powers and human rights organizations accuse Putin’s troops of having committed at least 22 of the crimes and serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflicts that appear in Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
News in development…
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