Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to quickly issue an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin.for his actions in Ukraine.
“Putin is a war criminal”said Del Ponte, who rose to fame researching the war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslaviain an interview with the newspaper The Tempspublished on Saturday.
The Swiss, 75, stated that they are necessary international arrest warrants against Putin and other senior Russian officials to hold them accountable for war crimes committed since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
After little more than five weeks of invasion, thousands of people have died and millions have been displaced while parts of Ukraine have been reduced to rubble.
Del Ponte, who was also part of the UN commission investigating rights abuses in Syrian warstressed that the issuance of an arrest warrant was an important signal “that the investigative work has been done.”
“It is the only instrument that exists that allows the perpetrator of a war crime to be arrested and brought before the International Criminal Court”he told Le Temps.
Del Ponte acknowledged that an arrest warrant does not necessarily mean that Putin will be arrested.
“If he stays in Russia, that would not be the case. But it would be impossible for her to leave her country, and it would be a strong signal that she has many states against her”.
The chief prosecutor of the ICC, based in The Hague, opened on March 3 a active investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraineafter obtaining the support of more than 40 States that are part of the court.
Del Ponte said that his experience as chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia gave him hope that Putin, like former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, could one day be arrested and charged with war crimes.
And “you also have to find incriminating evidence against high-level political and military officials“, said.
“The difficulty lies precisely in reaching the top of the chain of command to identify those who planned, ordered and carried out the war crimes.”
Ukraine is not a signatory to the Rome Statute treaty which created the ICC, but in 2014 it officially recognized the court’s jurisdiction for crimes committed on its territory.
Russia withdrew its signature from the Rome Statute in 2016.
For her part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that Russia’s indiscriminate bombings and attacks against populated areas of Ukraine generate a “immense concern” and could configure “war crimes”.
“Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and could constitute war crimes,” said the former Chilean president before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, resorting to the conditional by convention, since the accusations must be in principle decided by a court.
russian armed forces they have used cluster bombs on at least 24 occasionsprohibited by international law, against populated areas of Ukraine in the five weeks since the start of the war, he said.
(With information from AFP and EFE)
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