Secret “war-crime” warrants by International Criminal Court is mischief-making

The decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue war crimes arrest warrants for the Russian President and the Russia Children Ombudsman may have been welcomed by the ideologically committed but otherwise seems to have been greeted with widespread cynicism (see Situation in Ukraine: ICC judges issue arrest warrants against Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova). The fact this announcement came on the 20th anniversary of the illegal US invasion of Iraq which led to an estimated million deaths of Iraqi civilians was not lost on most observers. More attentive observers also noted this was the 55th anniversary of the My Lai massacre where between 347 and 504 unarmed Vietnamese villagers were slaughtered by US soldiers. (See Mỹ Lai massacre).

Bodies on a road leading from the village of My Lai in Vietnam in 1968. The unarmed civilians were shot dead by American soldiers. Photo: Ron Haeberle

So much for war crimes. The ICC simply does not have an objective or even-handed approach to such matters.

Unlawful “deportation” of children

But these warrants are meant to relate to “the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.” Mind you, the actual content of the ” warrants are secret in order to protect victims and witnesses.”

This sounds like another one of these secret documents which we are assured provides “likely” evidence of bad behaviour by the Russian Federation. We seem to have been swamped with those in recent years.

The trouble is that it is an easy charge to make (especially if we ignore the need for evidence) because the need to evacuate people (including children) from war zones and to provide refuge to civilians caught up in wars is primary. It is simply disingenuous to make such accusations in these situations – even if inevitable mistakes are made.

Before the West makes such disingenuous assertions consider what happened towards the end of the US war in Vietnam. According to Wikipedia::

“Over 2,500 children were relocated without their consent and adopted out to families in the United States and its allies. The operation was controversial because there was question about whether the evacuation was in the children’s best interest, and because not all the children were orphans.” (See Operation Babylift).

According to Inside Operation Babylift, The U.S. Government’s Plan To Save Vietnamese Orphans Before The Fall Of Saigon:

“In the final weeks of the Vietnam War, Operation Babylift evacuated more than 3,300 South Vietnamese orphans and placed them with adoptive families in the U.S.”

During that war, some Vietnamese parents left their children in orphanages simply to get care, and these children were taken by the US. Over time many parents or relatives found their children and many problems were resolved through normal legal channels without making emotional charges of war crimes against the US president at the time.

President Gerald R. Ford carrying a Vietnamese baby from Clipper 1742, one of the Operation Babylift planes that transported approximately 325 South Vietnamese orphans from Saigon to the United States, at San Francisco International Airport. Photo: U.S. National Archives

In this current war in Ukraine, military action occurs in populated areas. The military forces on both sides have a responsibility to ensure the evacuation of non-combatants from these areas as it is a war crime to use civilians as a shield (this happened in Mariupol where the ultranationalist Azov military group prevented the evaluation of civilians).

In the heat of these battles, the occasional separation of children from relatives is understandable. The Guardian describes such a case in their article We hugged for a long time’: the Ukrainian father who rescued his children from Moscow.

This article is written in the anti-Russian tone we expect from the Guardian but at least describes the case of a father who was separated from his three children during the evacuation from Mariupol to a transit camp and the checking of the father’s documents. Eventually, the father was released, and he was able to find out what had happened to his children and travel to Moscow and recover them from an orphanage. He was helped to do this by the Russian children’s ombudsman office – managed by Maria Lvova-Belov the ICC has labelled a war criminal.

So. Belova is labelled a war criminal by the ICC, accused of illegally deporting and detaining children and yet she and her organization is obviously helping to reunite families that have been separated!

The Russian Federation has taken in more Ukrainian refugees than any other European country – and has been doing this since 2014 (see Where are Ukrainian refugees going? – an update). This should not be surprising as this war is basically taking place in the Donbass which is populated by ethnic Russians -many of whom have relatives in Russia. It is natural for them to take refuge in Russia.

The article Orphans to be adopted by Russian families arrived in Russia with assistance from Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova notes that many children were orphaned years ago:

“All orphans and children left without parental care lived for a long time in children’s homes and orphanages in the Donetsk People’s Republic. After the evacuation of these institutions from the DPR, they lived in temporary accommodation facilities in the Rostov and Kursk regions.”

A similar article also notes that even during this process anomalies have been found and efforts are being made to reunite families:

“In addition, the children’s ombudsman met with two mothers who had turned their children over to institutions. In both cases, the families were facing hardship. They were offered assistance in gathering documents to make them eligible for benefits, putting them on a waiting list for a flat, and finding employment. Both mothers showed readiness to take their children back from institutions soon” (see Maria Lvova-Belova brought orphans from the DPR to the Nizhny Novgorod Region for placement with foster families).

The ICC has discredited itself

Evacuation of children from war zones is simply basic humanitarianism. Separation of children from their families can be an inevitable result in some isolated cases. However, these anomalies can be resolved using normal legal mechanisms.
The ICC’s actions of labelling people involved in the care of these children as war criminals is mischief-making. It does not help the children. Nor does it help the resolution of this conflict in Ukraine.
The ICC actions simply further discredit an organization which has already shown itself to be biased.

2 responses to “Secret “war-crime” warrants by International Criminal Court is mischief-making

  1. I think that if an accusation is made the ICC would have to act on it, but it does appear to be mere mischief making on the part of Zelenskyy.


  2. Well, there have been plenty of “accusations” of war crimes without the ICC batting an eyelid. Even within Ukraine consider the indiscriminate shelling of Donetsk city for nine years, and the large number of civilian deaths. Consider the use of anti-personal petal mines (these are illegal) the UAF has fired into Donetsk.

    So, the ICC does not react to complaints or “accusations.” Not sure how they manufacture their cases but the individual Judges, their biases and their international links, seem to have a lot to do with it. There was the case of one judge who moved to issue war crimes warrants against US servicemen. He was forced to retreat after the imposition of US sanctions and the passing of the American Service-Members’ Protection Act in 2002 – nicknamed “The Hague Invasion Act.”

    Reports suggest that the secret warrants were issued at the request of NATO countries (although the US seems in two minds in this). As such we can see them as just another step in the geopolitical war. One that will likely further damage ICC credibility. For example, what will happen if the Russian President visits the Republic of South Africa for the BRIs conference in August and there is no arrest?


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