On 17th March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II issued warrants of arrest for two individuals in the context of the situation in Ukraine. Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Ms Maria Aleksyevna Lyova-Belova were the ones for whom the ICC issued these warrants.
The accusation is that Mr Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, the president of the Russian Federation is accountable for war crimes of illegally removing and relocating children from occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia.
The acts allegedly violate articles 8(2)(a)(vii) and 8(2)(b)(vii) of the Rome Statute and were committed from at least February 24,20222 in Ukrainian-occupied areas. It is believed that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for these offences both by directly committing them and by failing to properly control his subordinates who committed or permitted them under his authority and control.
Moreover, it is claimed that Ms Maria Aleksyevna Lvova Belova who was born on October 25, 1984, and is the commissioner for children’s rights in the office of the president of the Russian Federation is accountable for the war crimes of illegally deporting and transferring children from occupied regions of Ukraine to Russia.
These actions are said to have violated articles 8(2)(a)(vii) as well as 8(2)(b)(vii) of the Rome Statute and they are believed to have occurred in Ukrainian-occupied territories as of February 24, 2022. These are valid reasons to suspect that Ms Lvova Belova bears individual criminal responsibility for these acts whether she carried them out directly in collaboration with others or through other means as specified in article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute.
This historic move is significant as this is the first time that the ICC has issued arrest warrants against a head of state. The charges against Putin and Lvova Belova are related to war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict in Ukraine. These charges are very serious and require immediate attention from the international community. The ICC’s decision to issue an arrest warrant against Putin and Lvova Belova has been met with mixed reactions.
While many in Ukraine and around the world have welcomed this decision, Russia has condemned it as a politically motivated move. Russia has long maintained that it has no active involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and has accused Ukraine of being the aggressor.
The ICC’s decision to issue arrest warrants against Putin and Lvova Belova is also a significant development in international law. It sends a clear message that even heads of state are not immune from prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is an important step forward in the fight against impunity and the protection of human rights.
Moreover, it is also important to note that ICC is an independent judicial institution that operates outside of political considerations. The decision to issue arrest warrants against Putin and Lvova Belova was made based on the evidence presented to the court and it is up to the court to determine their guilt or innocence.
The ICC has faced criticism in the past for being too slow in its investigations and for focusing too much on African countries. However, this decision shows that the ICC is willing to hold anyone accountable for their actions regardless of their position or nationality.
Furthermore, the decision of the ICC to issue arrest warrants against Putin and Lvova Belova also underscores the importance of international law and the need for countries to adhere to the same.
The conflict in Ukraine has been ongoing for several years now and it has resulted in a humanitarian crisis that has affected thousands of people. This conflict could have been avoided if both sides had adhered to international law and respected each other’s sovereignty.