The Hague is not for Moscow: why Russia has refused to the Rome Statute

Vladimir Putin on Wednesday instructed the foreign Ministry to send the UN Secretary-General notification of Russia’s intention not to become party to the Rome Statute of the International criminal court. At the disposal of the President States that the proposal was made by the Ministry of justice, and the proposal was agreed with the Ministry of foreign Affairs, the Supreme court and other offices.

The order was posted the day after the chief ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, in its annual report called the fact of joining of Crimea to Russia in 2014, “equivalent to international armed conflict” between Ukraine and Russia. Conflict, as stated in the report, began “no later than February 26,” when “the Russian Federation has mobilized the personnel of their armed forces to gain control over parts of the territory of Ukraine”.

The court “did not meet expectations”

The Rome Statute (ICC Statute) was developed with the participation of Russia, Moscow one of the first signed a document in September 2000. The Statute entered into force on 1 July 2002 and became operational in 2003. The court was established to carry out justice on behalf of the entire international community against the perpetrators of the most serious crimes: genocide, aggression, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Each of these terms is interpreted in judicial law in different countries in different ways, but the States that joined the ICC Statute, confirm that they understand them the same way, reminds “Interfax”.

In addition to examining the circumstances of the annexation of Crimea and events in Eastern Ukraine at the request of the Kiev ICC in January this year granted the request Bensouda and launched the investigation of crimes in the fighting in South Ossetia in August 2008. According to Bensouda, she analyzed reports from international human rights organizations and considered complaints from victims, and then she had “reason to believe that on the territory of Georgia in the context of the armed conflict in August 2008, the crimes were committed within the jurisdiction of the court,” he said in a statement posted on the website of the ICC.

Russia stood at the origins of the ICC. At first it seemed that cooperation is possible, including on the Georgian dossier, however, after reports on Georgia, Russia began to reconsider their attitude to the work of the court, says lawyer Grigor Avetisyan. A preliminary report on the events in Ukraine was the last straw, he suggests.

Moscow with the wording in the Crimea did not agree. She “absolutely contrary to reality, contrary to our position, and most importantly — it is contrary to the position stated in the referendum of citizens of the Crimea”, said the press Secretary of the President of Russia Dmitry Peskov told reporters (quoted by “Interfax”). According to Peskov, the decision to withdraw from the Hague international criminal court — “it is the position which was occupied by the country, guided by national interests”.

Equating the “Crimean spring” for armed intervention violates the UN Charter, which establishes the right of Nations to self-determination, the court showed its inefficiency and bias, for 14 years, he has issued only four decisions, spent a lot of money — more than $1 billion, responded to the President of the international Committee of the state Duma Leonid Slutsky.

The international criminal court “has not justified the hopes assigned to him and became a truly independent, respected body of international justice,” reads the statement of the Russian foreign Ministry. Russia, specifies the Ministry, “cannot be indifferent to the attitude of the ICC to the events of August 2008”.

As explained by Professor of international law of the diplomatic Academy of the Russian foreign Ministry Bakhtiyar Tuzmukhamedov, Russia had never been a full member of the ICC, “in his the composition of judges is not our judge, we did not participate in the proceedings”. “It [the order] means only one thing — we want to revoke your signature under this Treaty,” he said.

“For us it is a big legal consequences will not have, because we have not ratified the corresponding agreement. This is more a political step”, — has declared “to Interfax” the first Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on state construction and legislation Mikhail Emelyanov. However, according to the lawyer of the trial, if the case for military conflict with Georgia or the events in Ukraine will be brought to the end and someone from Russians will be convicted, will be issued an international arrest warrant that may lead to the detention of such person in the territory of the countries that have ratified the Rome Statute or on the territory of other countries, if the government itself will establish relationships with the ICC. In any case, for country a decision against its citizens and image loss, he says.

The investigation in Georgia is based on the fact that Georgia ratified the Statute, it means that citizens of any state for a crime committed on its territory fall under the jurisdiction of the court, reminds Kirill Koroteev, lawyer of the human rights centre “memorial”. The President’s decision is a gesture showing the current attitude of Russia to the document, he said. Koroteev draws attention to the fact that the Russian signature is stored under the Statute and procedures of its opinion does not exist.

The dream of universal justice

On the court’s website States that 124 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. China, Israel, Saudi Arabia and India never signed the Statute, and Russia, and although the US has signed, decided not to ratify. In the entire history of the court delivered four judgments. First — in 2012 to 14 years in prison, was sentenced former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was convicted of human rights violations and ethnic cleansing in the Congo. Ally of Lubanga, Germain Katanga, in may 2014, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The most recent and most rigid sentence was handed down by the ICC in June 2016 to 18 years of imprisonment was sentenced the leader of the armed “Liberation movement of the Congo,” Jean-Pierre Bemba for the violent actions of movement in the Central African Republic. Also in 2016, the court sentenced to nine years in prison the Malian Ahmad al-Fahey al-Mahdi for the deliberate destruction of monuments in Timbuktu.

Now the court has ten investigations, preliminary studies further 12 cases. 21 July 2008 the international criminal court issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide in connection with the conflict in Darfur. Thus, al-Bashir became the first serving head of state, against which were charged by an international jurisdiction.