Could Vladimir Putin be arrested?
THE International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The court accused Putin of being responsible for the “unlawful deportation” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
What has the International Criminal Court done?
An arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin has been issued over his alleged involvement in the abductions of children from Ukraine.
The International Criminal Court has accused the Russian tyrant of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
The Hague-based court has said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the crimes.
ICC chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, presented his case to a pre-trial chamber, who decided to grant an arrest warrant for Putin based on the evidence.
He said hundreds of Ukrainian children have been taken from orphanages and children’s homes to Russia.
“Many of these children, we allege, have since been given up for adoption in the Russian Federation,” he added.
The court also issued a warrant for the arrest for Maria Lvova-Belova – Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights – on similar allegations to Putin.
It said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation” of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
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The court added “it is in the interests of justice… to publicly disclose the existence of the warrants”.
Under the 1948 Geneva convention, forcibly transferring children and changing that child’s nationality or civil status is considered a war crime.
Could Vladimir Putin be arrested?
The likelihood of Putin facing trial at the International Criminal Court is low – but not impossible.
The ICC has no powers to arrest suspects itself – and can only exercise jurisdiction within countries that are signed up to its agreement.
But bold legal move will obligate the court’s 123 member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory.
Stephen Rapp, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues under former president Barack Obama, said: “This makes Putin a pariah.
“If he travels he risks arrest. This never goes away. Russia cannot gain relief from sanctions without compliance with the warrants.”
Ken Roth, the former executive director of Human Rights Watch, previously said history has shown that dictators who try to evade international arrest warrants eventually get their comeuppance.
“Even if not today, there will come a time when, in all likelihood, Putin will be charged as the ultimate commander-in-chief presiding over the Kremlin’s war-crime strategy,” he told the i.
“Putin may calculate that he can sit tight in the Kremlin and never have to worry about ICC prosecution, but that would require him to become president-for-life – a difficult goal to sustain.
“Putin may calculate that he can sit tight in the Kremlin and never have to worry about ICC prosecution, but that would require him to become president-for-life – a difficult goal to sustain.”
Jonathan Leader Maynard, a lecturer in international politics at King’s College London, said the warrant is unlikely to bother Putin.
He told the BBC the ICC “relies on cooperation from governments to actually arrest people, and the Russian government is obviously not going to cooperate in this respect”.
But he said it could impact Putin’s freedom to travel around the world as other nations could assist with his arrest.
It’s unlikely Putin will be extradited as it’s not an ICC signatory.
Could he be jailed?
Ultimately if Putin was in the dock in person was convicted of war crimes, then it’s almost inevitable he would be jailed.
The court can impose a maximum sentence of life imprisonment when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted person.
But the chances of a trial of any Russians at the ICC remain extremely unlikely.
Moscow does not recognise the court’s jurisdiction and vehemently asserted its position after the arrest warrant was issued.