Many are not paying much attention to it. Many see it as a non-event, since Vladimir Putin will not be sent to The Hague or even impeached, but by issuing an arrest warrant against him, the International Criminal Court has made history.
This is unprecedented as it is the first time that the sitting president of such a major power risks immediate arrest in the 123 countries that have ratified the Court’s statute. In addition, the warrant is particularly infamous because Vladimir Putin, as it happens, is suspected of having organised the abduction and deportation – the theft, in other words – of at least 16,000 Ukrainian children whose adoption he facilitated by Russian families. Even worse for the President of the Russian Federation, the Court would obviously not have issued this warrant if it had not had solid evidence – the evidence that Vladimir Putin himself established by signing the decrees that made this abomination possible and publicly congratulating his kingpin, Maria Lvova-Belova, who is also wanted by the Criminal Court since last week.
To show that he remained free to move, the Russian president immediately went to Crimea and then to Mariupol, lands that he annexed and controls, but Karim Khan, the Court’s Prosecutor, killed three birds with one stone. By the courage and speed with which he has acted, he has made this newborn child, which was the International Criminal Court still into a full-fledged player on the international scene. Now that the Russian head of state, the president of one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, is threatened with arrest and even likely – who knows? – to end his days in prison, every dictator will have to think twice before having his opponents assassinated and no head of state, democrat or not, will be able, without any risk, to turn his back on the law, the UN Charter and the international conventions against torture, arbitrary detention or discrimination of minorities.
Nothing will change overnight. The penal code has never prevented murderers from murdering and thieves from stealing, but this spectacular arrest warrant may cool down criminal ardour in many a presidential palace. There is every reason to rejoice, especially since Karim Khan has also put in a more difficult position those – too numerous – democracies which, with the United States on top, still refuse to recognise the Court, because they fear that one day they, too, might fall victim to it. Unlike the 27 states of the European Union, these countries do not want to be accountable to international justice, but how can the White House welcome this arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin and not agree to submit to the Court that issued it?
This is an untenable position. It must be denounced as such by human rights defenders who have to further advance international justice by getting more and more countries to recognise the Criminal Court and that’s not all. Now that Vladimir Putin is wanted for having children abducted in order to present himself as their saviour and make them Russians, his aggression becomes more odious and indefensible than ever. It is, in fact, for crimes against Ukraine that the court is prosecuting the Russian president.