Russia issues blow to ICC with announcement it will not ratify Rome Statute

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russia has formally abandoned the International Criminal Court (ICC), announcing it will not become party to the Rome Statute, which it signed in 2000 but never ratified.

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed a decree withdrawing from the agreement, which will shortly be sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In a statement, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: “The ICC as the first permanent body of international criminal justice inspired high hopes of the international community in the fight against impunity in the context of common efforts to maintain international peace and security, to settle ongoing conflicts and to prevent new tensions.

“Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal.

“The work of the Court is characterised in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. It is worth noting that during the 14 years of the Court’s work it passed only four sentences having spent over a billion dollars.”

Human rights group Amnesty International said the decision was a huge blow to international justice.

Amnesty International’s Russia Director Sergei Nikitin said: “As Russia had not ratified the Rome Statute little will change in practice; however the decision is an alarming indication of Russia’s unwillingness to cooperate with international justice systems.”

Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court has announced a crackdown on crimes against children.

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said her office will aim “to more robustly address the scourge of crimes against children” and “put the spotlight firmly on the 230 million children around the world today who suffer or are subjected to the crimes of war and conflict”.

A new ICC policy on prosecuting crimes against children was launched at a gala event at The Hague yesterday, France24 reports.

It provides for special attention to be paid to how children are questioned in the courtroom to “prevent harassment or intimidation” and directs prosecutors to “adopt a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of its work involving children”.

ICC workers will also be given training in how to handle child witnesses.

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