In Russia

Statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry, Nov 16, 2016  (related mainstream news reports are further below–New Cold War.org)

The entrance of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (Jerry Lampen, Reuters)

The entrance of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands (Jerry Lampen, Reuters)

On November 16, the President of the Russian Federation signed the Decree «On the intention not to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court». The notification will be delivered to the Depository shortly.

Russia has been consistently advocating prosecuting those responsible for the most serious international crimes. Our country was at the origins of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, participated in the development of the basic documents on the fight against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. These were the reasons why Russia voted for the adoption of the Rome Statute and signed it on September 13, 2000. [The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the international body. Wikipedia.]

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 characterized 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.

In this regard, the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures.

The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s [Georgia] attack on peaceful Tshinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-Ossetian militia and Russian soldiers. Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation.

The decision of the Russian Federation not to become a party to the Rome Statute (to withdraw its signature from the Statute) entails legal consequences provided for by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.


Russia refuses to ratify Rome Statute as ICC ‘failed to become truly independent’
Published time: 16 Nov, 2016
https://www.rt.com/news/367109-russia-icc-rome-statute/

Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a decree refusing to ratify the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Foreign Ministry said the ICC has not “lived up to expectations and failed to become a genuinely independent judicial body.”

The presidential decree, published on the official Russian legal information portal, orders the authorities “to accept the proposal of the Justice Ministry of Russia, coordinated with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other federal bodies of executive power, with the Russian Supreme Court, the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation and the Russian Investigative Committee, [to send] the Secretary General of the United Nations a notice of the Russian Federation’s intention not to become party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Read more
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The decree will come into force as soon as it is signed.

The Rome Statute, which entered into effect in 2002, is the basis of the activities of the ICC. It established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.

Moscow signed the treaty in 2000, but has not ratified it. ICC jurisdiction therefore does not apply to Russia, as well as the United States, China, Israel, Ukraine and a number of other countries.

The United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and does not plan to ratify it. However, the court recently published a report regarding its probe into alleged war crimes of US forces in Afghanistan. Washington rejected the probe, calling it neither warranted nor appropriate and reminded the ICC that it was “not a party to the Rome Statute” and therefore “had not consented to ICC jurisdiction.”

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, Moscow refused to ratify the ICC Statute because the International Criminal Court has not lived up to what was expected of it, especially in terms of it becoming a genuinely independent judicial body.

“Unfortunately the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal,” the ministry said in a statement following the publication of the presidential decree.
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“The work of the Court is characterized 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,” the statement said.

Initially, by signing the Rome Statute Russia expressed approval of the general idea of the ICC.

“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.

“Russia has consistently advocating prosecuting those responsible for the most serious international crimes. Our country was at the origins of the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, participated in the development of the basic documents on the fight against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. These were the reasons why Russia voted for the adoption of the Rome Statute and signed it.”

READ MORE: ‘Nothing to do with reality’: Moscow slams Ukraine-sponsored Crimea resolution passed by UN

However, there are a number of contradictions that exist between separate provisions of the statute and the Constitution of the Russian Federation, which is one of the reasons for Russia’s refusal to ratify the document. They include the mandatory transfer of investigated persons to the ICC, the application of the statute to heads of state and government figures, and the exceptions to the principle of “ne bis in idem,” which states that a person should not be judged twice for the same crime.
Read more
August 2008. Georgian servicemen in the area of the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict. © David Hizanishvily International Criminal Court weighing investigation into 2008 South Ossetia war

Apart from legal discrepancies, Russia has been disappointed by some ICC decisions, including the move to initiate an investigation into the conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia back in 2008. Back then, Georgian forces launched an artillery attack on the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinval. A Russian peacekeeper base and residential districts of the city came under fire, forcing then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to order a peace enforcement operation against Georgia.

Despite the fact that the European Commission investigated the conflict and declared that it was started by Georgia, labeling Tbilisi’s actions as unjustified, the ICC decided to open a probe into the conflict last year, focusing on the actions of South-Ossetians and Russian soldiers.

“The Russian Federation cannot be indifferent to the Court’s attitude vis-a-vis the situation of August 2008. The Saakashvili regime’s attack on peaceful Tskhinval, the assassination of the Russian peacekeepers resulted in the Court’s accusations against South-Ossetian militia and Russian soldiers.

Eventual investigation of actions and orders of Georgian officials was left to the discretion of the Georgian justice and remains outside of the focus of the ICC Prosecutor’s office attention. This development speaks for itself. We can hardly trust the ICC in such a situation,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement says.

On Monday, the ICC issued an annual report saying that “the available information suggests that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol amounts to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.” It also speaks about “the existence of an international armed conflict in the context of armed hostilities in eastern Ukraine.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called this “wording contrary to reality, contrary to the Russian stance and most importantly, contrary to the stance of the Crimea residents which was expressed at the referendum.” He added that the comments regarding Donbass also run counter to reality, as the war in eastern Ukraine is an internal conflict.

Peskov stressed, however, that Russia’s decision not to ratify the Rome Statute is not connected with this issue.

Related news on RT.com:
International Criminal Court weighing investigation into 2008 South Ossetia war , RT.com, Oct 9, 2015


Russia withdraws backing for International Criminal Court treaty

Reuters, Wednesday, Nov 15, 2016

President Vladimir Putin signed an executive order on Wednesd removing Russia’s signature from the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty, piling pressure on a court that is already reeling from withdrawals by some African countries.

Moscow never ratified the treaty, which it signed in 2000, meaning it never became a member subject to its jurisdiction. But the symbolic move coincided with the opening day of the general assembly of member states.

On Monday, the ICC angered Moscow by referring to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea as an armed conflict. It is also examining allegations of war crimes committed by Russian and Georgian forces during a brief 2008 war.

“Unfortunately, the court has not justified the hopes attached to it and has not become a genuinely independent authoritative organ of international justice,” the Foreign Ministry said. “It is revealing that in its 14 years of work the ICC has pronounced just four verdicts and spent over $1 billion.”

Russia is under international pressure over its campaign of air strikes in Syria, with some human rights activists and U.S. officials accusing it of bombing civilians and civilian targets. Russia has denied those allegations.

Russia’s announcement may be welcomed by African states like South Africa and Gambia, which have recently announced their withdrawals, but critics said the move was yet another example of Moscow flouting international norms. “It confirms Russia’s retreat from its international commitments,” said Human Rights Watch activist Liz Evenson. “It’s closing the door for people within Russia to this important judicial institution.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters the decision to withdraw Russia’s signature had been taken “in the national interest” and was a formality as it didn’t change anything as far as jurisdiction was concerned.

Most African and European countries continue to support the court, the first permanent international war crimes tribunal. But many expect it to face increased diplomatic pressure from the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised a less internationalist foreign policy stance.

The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, was founded when 120 countries adopted its founding treaty in 1998. It is seen as a successor to the Nuremburg trials after World War II and ad-hoc UN war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.


Putin withdraws Russia [sic] from International Criminal Court

By Nataliya Vasilyeva, Associated Press, Nov. 16, 2016

Note by New Cold War.org: We enclose this news report as an example of Western media propaganda in action. In the report, the 2014 referendum of the people of Crimea to secede from Ukraine and rejoin the Russian Federation is presented as a “Russian annexation”. The referendum vote followed an illegal coup d’etat in Kyiv in February 2014. That coup overthrew President Victor Yanukovych. The the large majority of Crimean people voted for Yanukovych in the presidential election of 2010.

In a similar vein, the launching of a civil war in eastern Ukraine by the new right-wing governing regime in Kyiv in April 2014 is described in the news report as a “separatist insurgency” . The new, coup regime in Kyiv, with neo-Nazis in key positions of power in the government, police and armed forces, launched the civil war in order to crush widespread opposition to the February coup d’etat. Opposition in eastern Ukraine cohered around demands for political autonomy. Ukraine has a highly-centralized system of government with no equivalent to the state governments of the United States or the provincial governments in Canada.

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Wednesday to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court, which rules on such grave charges as genocide and crimes against humanity.

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

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

Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014 from Ukraine following a hastily called referendum, a move that led to crippling Western sanctions. A separatist insurgency erupted in eastern Ukraine the following month, backed by Russia.

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

His spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, explained the withdrawal by “national interests” and argued that since Russia never ratified it 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’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 ICCs’ 14 years of work “only four verdicts” have been passed while $1 billion was spent on expenses.

Just hours before Russia’s announcement, the U.N. human rights chief made a spirited defense of the ICC, entreating countries not to leave it. Several African nations have recently announced plans to leave the treaty.

*****

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