Russia’s war on Ukraine: Forcibly displaced Ukrainian children

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Series Details PE 747.093
Publication Date April 2023
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On 17 March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights. The pair are accused of 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'. According to the ICC, there are reasonable grounds to believe that President Putin 'committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others,' or that he failed to properly control 'civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts, or allowed for their commission, and who were under his effective authority and control, pursuant to superior responsibility'.

Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, evidence has been collected about core international crimes committed against Ukrainian children. Multiple reports consider Russia to be in breach of the obligations set in several international treaties and instruments to which Russia is party, as well as of customary international law. It is well documented that, since the start of the invasion, certain categories of individuals, including women and children, have been disproportionately affected by the conflict. International organisations, institutional actors and civil society organisations have repeatedly warned about the great burden on children, including but not limited to, trafficking, sexual exploitation, abduction and illegal adoption. Beyond the strictly legal consequences of the arrest warrant, some commentators argue that the arrest warrant against Putin may help to undermine the Russian leader's war efforts, as the international community universally sees the abduction of children as unacceptable. No matter what the geopolitical arguments are, removing children from their families or from care facilities and forcibly transferring them is universally considered a reprehensible act of violence.

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