ICC voices concern over ‘threats’ from Russia following Putin’s warrant

ICC building

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has voiced concern over “threats” from Russia following the issuance of a war crimes arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin.

Following a threat by former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to launch hypersonic missiles against the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, the International Criminal Court (ICC) expressed its concern on Wednesday.

The threat came after Russia’s top investigative authority filed a criminal complaint against both the judges who issued the warrant for Putin and ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan.

The presidency of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties said it “regrets these attempts to hinder international efforts to ensure accountability for acts that are prohibited under general international law”. Furthermore, the assembly “reaffirms its unwavering support for the International Criminal Court,” the presidency said.

“The International Criminal Court embodies our collective commitment to fight impunity for the gravest international crimes. As an institution of last resort, the Court is complementary to national jurisdictions. We call on all States to respect its judicial and prosecutorial independence,” it added.

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“It’s quite possible to imagine a hypersonic missile being fired from the North Sea from a Russian ship at The Hague courthouse,” Medvedev said on Monday.

“Everyone walks under God and rockets… Look carefully to the sky…” he added.

Putin is charged with committing a war crime—the illegal deportation of thousands of Ukrainian children—in the ICC arrest warrant that was issued on Friday.

If Putin enters one of the 123 member states of the court, they will be required by law to detain him and extradite him to The Hague for prosecution.

Although Kyiv has granted the court power to pursue crimes committed on its soil, neither Russia nor Ukraine are members of the ICC. Also, without a police force of its own, the tribunal depends on arrests being made by member states.

On same grounds, the ICC also issued an arrest warrant for Maria Lvova-Belova, the president of Russia’s commission on children’s rights.

Moscow declared the directives “null and void,” and the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee claimed there was no basis for holding Putin criminally liable. In addition, it said a 1973 United Nations treaty granted heads of state total immunity.

The ICC prosecutor’s conduct in obtaining the warrants, according to the committee, seemed to constitute crimes under Russian law, including knowingly accusing an innocent person of a crime.

Ukraine alleges that since the invasion on February 24, 2022, more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia. Ukraine has dubbed the ICC warrant a “historic decision” that will result in “historic accountability.”

The court’s decision has been applauded by its Western allies, particularly the United States and the European Union.

President Joseph Biden said on Friday that Putin has undoubtedly committed war crimes despite the fact that the US is not a party to the ICC. He also added that the ICC warrant was justified.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken asked all ICC members to abide by the warrant.

In response to US Senator Lindsey Graham’s question about whether he would advise European partners to “turn over” Putin, Blinken responded, “I think anyone who’s a party to the court and has obligations should fulfil their obligations.”