Arrest warrant issued for Putin over deportation of Ukrainian children
The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, over the deportation of Ukrainian children.
ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan KC said in a statement that the Pre-Trial Chamber “has confirmed that there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova bear criminal responsibility for the unlawful deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation”, in contravention of the Rome Statute.
He cited the deportation of at least hundreds of children from orphanages and children’s care homes. Prosecutors claim these children have since been given up for adoption in Russia, with changes in the law made by presidential decree to “expedite the conferral of Russian citizenship”.
The children were protected under the Fourth Geneva Convention during the time of the deportations.
Mr Khan said: “In September last year, I addressed the United Nations Security Council and emphasised that the investigation of alleged illegal deportation of children from Ukraine was a priority for my Office. The human impact of these crimes was also made clear during my most recent visit to Ukraine. While there, I visited one of the care homes from which children were allegedly taken, close to the current frontlines of the conflict. The accounts of those who had cared for these children, and their fears as to what had become of them, underlined the urgent need for action.
“We must ensure that those responsible for alleged crimes are held accountable and that children are returned to their families and communities. As I stated at the time, we cannot allow children to be treated as if they are the spoils of war.”
He concluded: “As I stated when in Bucha last May, Ukraine is a crime scene that encompasses a complex and broad range of alleged international crimes. We will not hesitate to submit further applications for warrants of arrest when the evidence requires us to do so.”
The US, China and Russia are among several countries which do not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.