Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Will Putin actually be arrested?

The International Criminal Court has taken the key step of issuing an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin over the Ukrainian warfare.

But does this imply the Russian president, accused of the warfare crime of deporting youngsters, is actually ever more likely to stand trial in The Hague?

How might it occur?

ICC member states are obliged to hold out the arrest warrants on Putin and Russia‘s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, in the event that they journey to their international locations.

“That‘s right,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told AFP when asked if Putin would be liable for arrest if he set foot in any of those 123 nations.

But while that could make travel difficult for Putin, the court has no police force of its own to enforce its warrants, and relies entirely on ICC states playing ball.

Countries haven‘t always done so — particularly when it involves a sitting head of state like Putin.

Former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir managed to visit a number of ICC member states including South Africa and Jordan despite being subject to an ICC warrant.

Despite being ousted in 2019, Sudan has yet to hand him over.

Matthew Waxman, a professor at Columbia Law School, said it was a “very significant step by the ICC but that the chances are slim that we will ever see Putin arrested”.

What are the main hurdles?

First and foremost: Russia, like the United States and China, is not a member of the ICC.

The ICC was able to file charges against Putin because Ukraine has accepted its jurisdiction over the current situation, although Kyiv too is not a member.

But Moscow has dismissed the warrants against Putin out of hand.

Russia does not extradite its citizens in any case.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia “does not recognise the jurisdiction of this court and so from a legal point of view, the decisions of this court are void”.

Russia in fact signed the court‘s founding Rome Statute but did not ratify it to become a member, and then withdrew its signature on Putin’s orders in 2016, after the ICC launched a probe into the 2008 warfare in Georgia.

Putin was unlikely to finish up within the dock for warfare crimes “unless there is a regime change in Russia”, stated Cecily Rose, assistant professor of public worldwide regulation at Leiden University.

Have top-level suspects confronted justice?

Yet historical past has seen a number of senior figures who’ve ended up within the dock on warfare crimes expenses in opposition to all odds, stated the ICC‘s Khan.

“There are so many examples of people that thought they were beyond the reach of the law … they found themselves in courts,” he stated.

“Look at Milosevic or Charles Taylor or Karadzic or Mladic.”

The ICC convicted former Liberian warfare lord-turned-president Taylor in 2012 of warfare crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity.

Former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic died in his cell in The Hague in 2006 whereas on trial for genocide on the Yugoslav warfare crimes tribunal.

Former Bosnian Serb chief Radovan Karadzic was lastly captured in 2008 and convicted of genocide by the tribunal, and his navy chief Ratko Mladic was arrested in 2011 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Any different choices?

The ICC can not attempt suspects in absentia however Khan stated the courtroom had “other pieces of architecture” to push circumstances ahead.

He cited a current case by which he requested judges to carry a listening to to verify expenses in opposition to Joseph Kony — the chief of the Lord‘s Resistance Army, who launched a bloody revolt in Uganda — although Kony stays at giant.

“That process may be available for any other case — including the current one” involving Putin, added Khan.

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