International court to open war crimes cases against Russia amid conflict in Ukraine

The International Criminal Court is set to open two separate cases of war crimes against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Court is expected to seek the arrest of several people who have yet to be named. 

The two cases are the first to be brought against Russia after special investigations teams have spent months gathering material, according to the New York Times

The Court has accused Russia of abducting Ukrainian children and teenagers and sending them to re-education camps across Russia. Additionally, they have accused the Kremlin of deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure.

It has not been made clear who is likely to be charged in the two cases. Chief prosecutor Karim Khan’s office said that they “do not publicly discuss specifics related to ongoing investigations.”

Though the Kremlin has denied all accusations of war crimes, Ukrainian investigators have reportedly been gathering compelling evidence since the early days of the invasion in March 2022. 

The New York Times reported in October that Russia had tortured civilians, forced confinement, and deployed indiscriminate shelling, according to a United-Nations panel. 

There are some who speculate that President Vladimir Putin could be charged, since the court does not recognize exemption for heads of state in cases that involve “war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide,” according to the report.

However, there is a slim chance that the trial takes place, according to experts, since Russia is unlikely to give up its officials, and the court cannot hold a trial in absentia. 

The Kremlin has not concealed their intention to relocate Ukrainian children, as part of a so-called humanitarian mission to protect the children from the war. But a report suggests that Ukrainian children were relocated to become Russian citizens or sent to summer camp to be re-educated.

Another report published by Yale University and the Conflict Observatory program, attached to the US State Department, suggested that at least 6,000 Ukrainian children were being kept in 43 different camps in Russia. 

Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, said: “There has been a lot of focus on this issue, and pursuing it as a crime will generate a lot of reaction.“

He continued: “It’s forbidden to forcibly transfer civilians across a border, and during a conflict it can be a war crime. It can also amount to crimes against humanity if it is part of a widespread and systematic policy. Deporting children could even be part of genocidal intent.”

The Court’s chief prosecutor, in the second case, is expected to address Russia’s apparent attacks on civilian infrastructure, such as gas, power plants, and water supplies. 

Though the US has offered to share its evidence of these acts with the court, the Defense Department is reportedly barring the information from getting out since it could inevitably lead to Americans being prosecuted.

Image: Title: putin icc
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