The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin for war crimes in Ukraine, specifically for abducting and deporting Ukrainian children. Does this have any effect on his travel plans? If he travels to western Europe can he be arrested?
I’m guessing the answer is no, but on the other hand I can’t find this issue addressed in any of the news stories that I’ve read.
Alex Whiting, a Harvard Law professor who worked in the office of the ICC prosecutor, explained, “The issuance of arrest warrants is the first step to achieving accountability for war crimes — it signals that there is evidence that war crimes have been committed and that identified individuals are responsible for them and the persons charged will forever run the risk of arrest or surrender, particularly if they travel to one of the 123 states that are members of the court.”
So I guess I’ve found my answer. Sorry for jumping the gun. But additional factual comments are welcome.
A. I don’t think anybody is going to arrest a foreign head of state no matter where they are.
1a. Act of War
B. The only way Putin is going to be an ex head of state is posthumously.
C. Political theater.
As I understand it when Putin travels he takes extreme security measures including GPS jamming (Russia Is Tricking GPS to Protect Putin – Foreign Policy). So I don’t think Putin’s security force would allow his arrest. However such a move is an easy way to deny Putin entry into their nation and to set the terms of such a visit.
Sources at the international criminal court said they thought it was now “very unlikely” that Vladimir Putin would travel to any country currently supporting Ukraine. If he did so he risked arrest, they pointed out. They said it was possible Putin would still fly to China which is not a signatory to the Rome statute, the treaty which obliges governments to enforce ICC warrants. “The Russian president’s travel options have become extremely limited,” a source said.
Now for the obvious reality: Mr Putin will not soon find himself in the dock at the icc. The limited international criminal justice that currently exists simply does not apply to the leaders of nuclear-armed countries. Yet there are still possibilities for some Russian crimes to be prosecuted.
Mr Putin’s effective immunity is an upshot of the frailty of the international judicial system. Whereas justice within countries has clear statutes and established tribunals, international law is determined by legal scholars as treaties are signed and norms established. Countries can opt in or out at their discretion; no global police force exists to enforce it anyway.
If he is stupid enough to travel somewhere where he gets arrested (or his plane is forced down in a location where he gets arrested) the there’s an interesting calculus back home - “If we do nothing, which one of us is temporarily - and so possibly permanently - in charge? Will the other minions try to stop me?”
The current Kim’s dad, for example, narrowly escaped a huge explosion just after his train went through a town on the way back from Beijing. Adolph survived a bomb that was poorly placed in the same room. We have this impression of dictators being like Bond villains, and everyone under them jumps to do their bidding; whereas the reality is every one of those underlings is constantly considering the lethal calculus of advancement that involves knocking over a few dominoes or propping up the right alternative.
But yeah, Putin did not get where he is by being stupid. (Present predicaments excepted). He’s not going anywhere outside Russia…
If the film Valkyrie is accurate (yes I know, Hollywood etc etc!), then the meeting Hitler was at was switched from the underground bunker to a building at ground level because it was too hot. That’s what saved him.
I’m assuming a Head of State like Putin would be travelling under diplomatic immunity any time he leaves the country. Which I believe means other countries cannot arrest him; they are limited to just expelling him.
“It’s not easy for a head of state to fear being arrested when he or she puts foot in a European country or in a North American country,” said Justice Richard Goldstone, the chief prosecutor of war crimes committed in Bosnia in the 1990s.
While the ICC does not recognise immunity for heads of state in cases involving war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, in an important precedent, South Africa declined to enforce an ICC warrant for the arrest of the Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir during a visit in 2015.
Pretoria argued that it saw “no duty under international law and the Rome statute to arrest a serving head of state of a [ICC] non-state-party such as Omar al-Bashir”, and several other countries that he visited also declined to arrest him.
Maybe not the US marines. The United States isn’t part of the treaty. My initial assumption was that Trump had withdrawn from it. That isn’t the case. It ended up not being ratified in 2002, presumably on fears that Bush Jr. might be indicted.