Russian President Putin now has the official status of a suspect in the international crime of illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children after the ICC order to issue arrest warrants for him and Russian Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova.
This means that Putin’s travels outside Russia will be risky because of the possibility of his extradition to the ICC, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin said at a press conference following ICC’s announcement of the arrest order.
After receiving the warrant of the Pre-Trial Chamber, measures are taken to find and detain suspects. To do this, the ICC appeals to the States Parties to the Rome Statute with a request for the arrest and transfer of the person to the ICC. The state party to the Rome Statute that receives this request immediately takes measures to arrest the person concerned, Kostin explained.
Kostin also noted that the ICC has the ability to use Interpol to help locate and arrest suspects.
“In case of arrest and transfer of a person to the court or after a voluntary appearance, the pre-trial chamber holds a hearing to confirm the charges. By the way, they can be held even in the absence of the suspect,” he added.
Due to the possibility of extradition to the ICC, Putin, who is a suspect in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children, is likely to avoid traveling outside Russia, according to Kostin.
“The world has received a signal that the Russian regime is criminal and its leadership and accomplices will be brought to justice. This is a historic decision for Ukraine and the entire system of international law,” Kostin wrote on Facebook.
He also thanked ICC Prosecutor Kareem Khan, noting that his office had provided more than 40 volumes of materials on the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to the ICC.
Ukrainian prosecutors have documented over 16,000 cases of children being deported from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, and Kherson oblasts, although Kostin believes that the actual figure may be much higher. Ukraine has managed to return 308 children during the full-scale invasion.
“There is no doubt: this is a planned policy of the Russian Federation aimed at destroying Ukraine as a state and Ukrainians as a nation. By abducting our children, Russia is literally stealing our future. We must return them all. And we must convict in Ukrainian and international courts everyone involved in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children, as well as in other war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and the most serious international crime – aggression,” Kostin said.
While Kostin praised the decision of the ICC as a historic step, he noted that it was only the beginning of a long road to justice. “And we have to go this way together with the entire free world. We expect all states that consider themselves part of the civilized world to take appropriate steps to bring those suspected of committing international crimes to justice. Especially if they are the highest leaders of the Russian terrorist regime,” he added.