University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign law professor and Heidi Hurd Faculty Scholar Patrick Keenan is an expert in human rights law and international criminal law. He spoke with News Bureau business and law editor Phil Ciciora about the arrest warrants issued to two Russian officials for the forced deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Read an excerpt from the interview below:
The International Criminal Court recently issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, a Russian politician who works for Putin as the commissioner of children’s rights. Putin and Lvova-Belova are accused of the unlawful deportation of thousands of children from Ukraine to Russia during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. What do the arrest warrants mean?
These are the first arrest warrants related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that have been made public. When the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant, it means that the prosecutor has proved to the court that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international crimes have been committed and that the people named in the warrant are responsible for them.
Basically, it means that Putin and Lvova-Belova are now accused war criminals and that they are subject to arrest if they travel to a country that is a member of the ICC. Many Western European and Eastern European countries are member nations, but the U.S., Russia and China, notably, are not among them.
The arrest warrants are very important symbolically and are likely to have some practical effects as well. It’s noteworthy that the first charges are against Putin and one of his close aides. This shows that the ICC prosecutor will go after the very top of the Russian power structure. And the victims of these crimes are the most vulnerable of victims: children who have had to live through the horrible war and then be forcibly transferred to another country.
Any country cooperating with Russia is now cooperating with an accused war criminal. This might affect countries that are on the fence about whether to oppose the war in Ukraine. Most countries don’t want to work with accused war criminals. It might also help advocates make the case for aid to Ukraine and encourage states to transfer more and different weapons to Ukraine.
Read the full interview at news.illinois.edu.