Ukraine war: ICC ‘undeterred’ by arrest warrant for chief prosecutor
The International Criminal Court has said it is not “deterred” that Russia placed its chief prosecutor on a wanted list.
Two months ago, Karim Khan of the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The court issued a statement on Saturday saying that the move was an effort to undermine its “legitimate mandate to ensure accountability for grave crimes”.
The Russian government, which does not belong to the ICC, has previously called out Mr. Putin’s warrant as “void”.
Khan, a British attorney, issued an arrest warrant in March for President Putin. The document claimed that he was responsible for war crimes and focused on the illegal deportation from Ukraine of children to Russia.
A warrant was also issued for Russia’s child rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova on similar charges.
According to Kyiv officials, more than 16,000 children have been forced to transfer from Ukraine to Russia since the beginning of the war.
At the time, the ICC stated that there was reasonable suspicion to believe that both Ms. Lvova Belova and Mr. Putin were individually criminally responsible.
The Kremlin’s investigative committee, in turn, announced this week that it would begin an investigation into Mr. Khan for the “criminal prosecution of a person known to be innocent”.
In a statement on Saturday, the Hague-based ICC said it was “aware and profoundly concerned about unwarranted and unjustified coercive measures reportedly taken against ICC officials”.
Branding the measures “unacceptable”, the court said it would not be prevented from continuing to “deliver on its independent mandate”.
Mr. Khan is yet to comment on the action against him.
Meanwhile, the special representative of the United Nations secretary-general for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba, came under separate scrutiny after she reportedly met with Ms. Lvova-Belova in Moscow.
The Russian was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying the conversation was “constructive and sincere”.
Rights groups and senior officials took issue, though, with some suggesting the meeting was inappropriate.
“Ukrainian victims deserve to see Lvova-Belova behind bars in The Hague, not meeting with high-level UN officials,” Balkees Jarrah, associate director of the International Justice Programme at Human Rights Watch, said.
Last September, Ms. Lvova-Belova complained that some children removed from the city of Mariupol “spoke badly about the [Russian President], said awful things and sang the Ukrainian anthem.”