Rus­sia pulls out from ICC

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

RUS­SIAN Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has signed a de­cree to with­draw Rus­sia from the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), which pros­e­cutes war crimes, geno­cide and crimes against hu­man­ity.

Rus­sia in 2000 signed the Rome treaty which es­tab­lished the Hague-based court, but never rat­i­fied it.

Putin’s de­cree, pub­lished on the Krem­lin’s web­site on Wed­nes­day, comes a day after the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly’s hu­man rights com­mit­tee ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion con­demn­ing Rus­sia’s “tem­po­rary oc­cu­pa­tion of Crimea”, and blamed Moscow for rights abuses and dis­crim­i­na­tion against some Crimean res­i­dents, such as Tatars.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said the with­drawal is based on “na­tional in­ter­ests” and ar­gued that since Rus­sia never rat­i­fied the creation of the court, Wed­nes­day’s de­cree was just a for­mal­ity.

Peskov also dis­missed the ICC’s ac­cu­sa­tions of an “armed con­flict” in Crimea, ar­gu­ing that Crimea joined Rus­sia after a le­git­i­mate pop­u­lar vote.

Rus­sia an­nexed Crimea in March 2014 from Ukraine after a hastily called ref­er­en­dum, a move that led to crip­pling West­ern sanc­tions.

A sep­a­ratist armed con­flict later erupted in east­ern Ukraine the fol­low­ing month, backed by Rus­sia.

On Mon­day, the ICC is­sued a pre­lim­i­nary re­port in which it de­scribed what hap­pened in Crimea as “an in­ter­na­tional armed con­flict be­tween Ukraine and the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion”.

Rus­sia’s for­eign min­istry in­sisted in a state­ment that Rus­sia wants ev­ery­one im­pli­cated in grave in­ter­na­tional crimes to face jus­tice but ex­pressed frus­tra­tion over the court’s work in re­cent years.

“The court has un­for­tu­nately failed to match the hopes one had and did not be­come a truly independent and re­spected body of in­ter­na­tional jus­tice,” the min­istry said, adding that in the ICC’s 14 years of work “only four ver­dicts” have been passed, while $1bn was spent on ex­penses.

Just hours be­fore Rus­sia’s an­nounce­ment, the UN hu­man rights chief made a spir­ited de­fence of the ICC, en­treat­ing coun­tries not to leave it.

The tri­bunal is al­ready fac­ing a ma­jor push­back from African coun­tries, who say it’s a West­ern in­sti­tu­tion fo­cused on try­ing na­tions from the con­ti­nent.

Bu­rundi was the first coun­try to with­draw in Oc­to­ber. Three days later, South Africa also an­nounced that it planned to leave the ICC, fol­lowed by Gam­bia.

The ICC has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing cases against Su­danese and Kenyan lead­ers, and is­sued an ar­rest war­rant against Su­dan’s Pres­i­dent Omar al-Bashir.

The ICC was es­tab­lished in 1998 and has over 100 mem­ber states. It is the world’s first per­ma­nent court man­dated to bring to jus­tice peo­ple re­spon­si­ble for war crimes, crimes against hu­man­ity, and geno­cide.

Mean­while, the United States in­sisted on Tues­day its sol­diers and spies in Afghanistan are not sub­ject to pros­e­cu­tion by the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court and any war crimes probe into their ac­tions would be “un­war­ranted”.

On Mon­day, ICC chief pros­e­cu­tor Fa­tou Ben­souda said she is con­sid­er­ing whether to launch a full in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­le­ga­tions that US troops and CIA op­er­a­tors tor­tured Afghan pris­on­ers be­tween 2003 and 2004. But Wash­ing­ton has not rat­i­fied the Hague-based court’s found­ing Rome Statute, and State Depart­ment spokesper­son El­iz­a­beth Trudeau said the United States thor­oughly in­ves­ti­gates al­le­ga­tions against its per­son­nel.

“We have a ro­bust na­tional sys­tem of in­ves­ti­ga­tion and ac­count­abil­ity that is as good as any coun­try in the world,” she said. “We do not be­lieve that an ICC ex­am­i­na­tion or in­ves­ti­ga­tion with re­spect to the ac­tions of US per­son­nel in re­la­tion to the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan is war­ranted or ap­pro­pri­ate,” she added.

“As we pre­vi­ously noted, the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and has not con­sented to ICC ju­ris­dic­tion.”

While the US has been lead­ing calls for those be­hind atroc­i­ties in the Syr­ian con­flict to be brought to jus­tice in The Hague, there is no chance of any US sol­diers end­ing up in the dock.

Last month, crit­i­cis­ing moves by some African coun­tries to pull out of the court, State Depart­ment spokesper­son John Kirby said Wash­ing­ton thinks the “ICC has made valu­able con­tri­bu­tions in the ser­vice of ac­count­abil­ity”.

But it has never been sug­gested that the United States it­self, the world’s su­per­power, would ac­cept in­ter­na­tional ac­count­abil­ity.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of for­mer pres­i­dent Ge­orge W Bush au­tho­rised the use of so-called en­hanced in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­niques — in­clud­ing wa­ter­board­ing – after the Septem­ber 11, 2001 at­tacks on the United States.

Those tech­niques were abol­ished by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama when he took over the White House in Jan­uary 2009, and he has since can­didly ad­mit­ted “We tor­tured some folks,” but no CIA of­fi­cer or po­lit­i­cal leader has been pros­e­cuted. — AFP

A Mex­i­can man who weighs about 500 ki­los and hadn’t left his bed in six years has been re­moved by med­i­cal per­son­nel for treat­ment. His doc­tor gave the 32-year-old man’s name only as Juan Pe­dro from the cen­tral city of Aguas­calientes. Gabriela Cen­teno, spokesper­son for the of­fice of Dr Jose An­to­nio Cas­taneda, said on Tues­day the pa­tient was taken to Guadala­jara where blood sam­ples were taken. She says he will re­main in that city for sev­eral months re­ceiv­ing treat­ment. Spe­cial equip­ment was needed to move the man, who hadn’t left his bed for years. Mex­i­can Manuel Uribe was once con­sid­ered the world’s heav­i­est man, be­fore he died in 2014 at age 48. Uribe’s peak weight of 560 kilo­grammes was cer­ti­fied in 2006 as a Guin­ness World Record. — AFP

Ban Ki-moon

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