Filed Under: International

The International Criminal Court could prosecute alleged Russian war crimes

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World leaders have continued to express the desire to prosecute Russians for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. War crimes are generally tried in the International Criminal Court (ICC), which turned 20 years old in July.

The court, crated by the UN in 1998 under the Rome Statute, has opened an investigation into the “situation in Ukraine.” Ukraine is not a member of the ICC, but it has granted the court jurisdiction within its borders.

Member states allow for their citizens to be tried by the court. The United States, China and Russia have refused to join–therefore excluding their citizens from potential prosecution.

ICC prosecutors have pointed to the lack of international participation as the reason why most of the suspects they pursue are from African nations.

“It is actually African governments–African member states that are coming toward the ICC to request the ICC for intervention,” said International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

LONGWORTH: KILLING AND RAPING INNOCENT PEOPLE, BOMBING CIVILIAN INFRASTRUCTURE…

UKRAINE HAS ACCUSED RUSSIANS OF DOING ALL THESE THINGS IN 2022.

AND WE’VE NEVER BEFORE SEEN SUCH A WIDESPREAD PUSH TO PROSECUTE WAR CRIMES.

JUDGMENT WOULD LIKELY PLAY OUT IN THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT. SO, HOW DOES IT WORK?

LET’S GET THIS STRAIGHT.

THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT IS AN INDEPENDENT, JUDICIAL BODY SET UP BY THE UN IN 1998, UNDER AN AGREEMENT CALLED THE ROME STATUTE.

LOCATED IN THE HAGUE, IN THE NETHERLANDS, IT PROSECUTES INDIVIDUALS FOR GENOCIDE, WAR CRIMES, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, AND CRIMES OF AGGRESSION.

SOUNDS IMPORTANT, RIGHT?

WELL, YEAH, BUT THE ICC HASN’T EXACTLY DEMONSTRATED A STRONG ABILITY TO HOLD PEOPLE ACCOUNTABLE.

IT’S ONLY COME UP WITH A HANDFUL OF WAR CRIME CONVICTIONS AND SOME OF THEM HAVE EVEN BEEN OVERTURNED.

THAT’S DUE TO LACK OF AUTHORITY.

DOZENS OF COUNTRIES, INCLUDING SUPERPOWERS CHINA, RUSSIA, AND THE U.S. REFUSE TO PARTICIPATE, SO THEIR CITIZENS ARE ESSENTIALLY EXEMPT.

THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION KEPT US OUT TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM POLITICIZED PROSECUTIONS.

MORE RECENTLY, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FEARED US SOLDIERS WOULD BE TARGETED FOR ACTIVITY IN AFGHANISTAN.

JOHN BOLTON: “THE UNITED STATES WILL USE ANY MEANS NECESSARY TO PROTECT OUR CITIZENS AND THOSE OF OUR ALLIES FROM UNJUST PROSECUTION BY THIS ILLEGITIMATE COURT.”

LONGWORTH: THIS LACK OF PARTICIPATION IS THE REASON WHY–ICC PROSECUTORS SAY–MOST OF THE SUSPECTS THEY TRY ARE FROM AFRICAN NATIONS.

FATOU BENSOUDA: “IT IS ACTUALLY AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS–AFRICAN MEMBER STATES THAT ARE COMING TOWARD THE ICC TO REQUEST THE ICC FOR INTERVENTION.”

LONGWORTH: THE ICC ALSO LACKS AUTHORITY BECAUSE IT DOESN’T HAVE A POLICE FORCE, SO IT RELIES ON THE PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES TO DETAIN SUSPECTS.

THE COURT ALSO TAKES A LONG TIME TO BEGIN A TRIAL. WITHOUT MUCH POWER, THE PROCESS OF ESTABLISHING JURISDICTION, GATHERING ENOUGH EVIDENCE AND GETTING THE SUSPECT TO BE PHYSICALLY PRESENT IS SLOW.

THIS YEAR, A DEFENDANT FACING 31 COUNTS OF WAR CRIMES FINALLY STOOD TRIAL 19 YEARS AFTER HE ALLEGEDLY ASSISTED IN GENOCIDE IN DARFUR.

NOW, THE WORLD LOOKS TO PUTIN’S WAR.

JOE BIDEN: “THERE’S NOTHING LESS HAPPENING THAN MAJOR WAR CRIMES. RESPONSIBLE NATIONS HAVE TO COME TOGETHER TO HOLD THESE PERPETRATORS RESPONSIBLE.”

JAKE SULLIVAN: “OBVIOUSLY THE ICC IS ONE VENUE WHERE WAR CRIMES HAVE BEEN TRIED IN THE PAST, BUT THERE HAVE BEEN OTHER EXAMPLES IN OTHER CONFLICTS OF OTHER MECHANISMS BEING SET UP.”

LONGWORTH: CONSIDERING RUSSIA’S NOT AN ICC MEMBER STATE ANOTHER MECHANISM MIGHT BE NECESSARY. AND, WITHOUT A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, CAPTURING PUTIN WOULD PROVE TO BE A CHALLENGE.

 

World leaders have continued to express the desire to prosecute Russians for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. War crimes are generally tried in the International Criminal Court (ICC), which turned 20 years old in July.

The court, crated by the UN in 1998 under the Rome Statute, has opened an investigation into the “situation in Ukraine.” Ukraine is not a member of the ICC, but it has granted the court jurisdiction within its borders.

Member states allow for their citizens to be tried by the court. The United States, China and Russia have refused to join–therefore excluding their citizens from potential prosecution.

ICC prosecutors have pointed to the lack of international participation as the reason why most of the suspects they pursue are from African nations.

“It is actually African governments–African member states that are coming toward the ICC to request the ICC for intervention,” said International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

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