Vladimir Putin

Russia pulls out from International Criminal Court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 1:56am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 November, 2016, 1:56am

Russian President Vladimir Putin withdrew his nation from the International Criminal Court on Wednesday, a day after a United Nations committee condemned Russia for human rights abuses in Crimea.

The court, based in The Hague in the Netherlands, tries people on charges such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States is not among the court’s 120-plus members.

Russia signed the Rome Treaty document establishing the court in 2000, but did not ratify it. Russia says it continued to cooperate with the court and worked as an observer despite not technically falling under its jurisdiction.

Putin signed a directive Wednesday that essentially notified UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that Russia will not become a member of the court. Putin’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement noting that the ICC began with a goal of maintaining international peace and security, settling ongoing conflicts and preventing new tensions.

“Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal,” the statement said, calling the court “ineffective and one-sided.”

Raising Russia’s ire is UN resolutions regarding Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014.

On Tuesday, the UN General Assembly committee on human rights approved a report calling out Russia for “reported serious violations and abuses committed against residents of Crimea” and alleged violations of “fundamental freedoms, including the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly.”

Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko called the vote “a real victory for justice.” But Anatoly Viktorov, head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s human rights department, rejected the resolution. Viktorov accuses Ukraine of repeatedly trying to disrupt Crimea by attempting to organise water, energy and food blockades.

The ICC also has ripped Russia for actions in Crimea, although Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s decision not to ratify the Rome Statute is unrelated to the controversy over that issue.

The ICC has been hit by other defections in recent weeks. The West African nation of Gambia announced it would drop out last month, saying the court existed to “persecute and humiliate” people from the continent. South Africa and Burundi also have dropped out, the latter after the court said it would investigate political violence there.