Tribunal has not lived up to hopes of international community, Moscow says, day after ICC report on Crimea annexation.
President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
The President instructed Russia’s foreign ministry to notify the United Nations of the country’s refusal to be subject to the body’s activity on Wednesday, following the same move by Gambia, South Africa and Burundi.
The statement claimed that “the International Criminal Court has not justified hopes placed upon it and did not become a truly independent and authoritative judicial body,” a statement published on Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s website said.
“Russia consistently advocates that people guilty of grave offences must be held accountable, the document points out. Russia was at the origins of creation of Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals, took part in developing of the basic laws against such grave international crimes as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This is the reason why Russia voted in favor of adopting Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on September 13, 2000,” the statement pointed out.
The decision to withdraw comes amid calls for his military to be referred over air strikes backing President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the annexation of Crimea.
Francois Hollande, the President of France, called suggested that Russia should face war crimes charges over its bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo last month.
The Russian statement, however, explained that Russia’s decision not to become a member of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, or, formulated differently, to withdraw its signature from the document, implies legal consequences introduced in Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.
Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued an appeal to all countries attempting to withdraw from the ICC on Wednesday.
He said those making the attempt were seeking to “desert victims of the most abominable international crimes” and could not claim their action was based on principle.
“If the State Parties, who apparently have been masquerading in recent years as countries devoted to criminal accountability, want to leave, then they should leave,” Mr al-Hussein added.
“But we are not convinced their position is based entirely on principle. Quite the opposite: it appears to aim more at protecting their leaders from prosecution.”
The commissioner said there was “no substitute” for the ICC, which he hopes will be eventually accepted universally.
The Rome Statute, which took effect in 2002, is the basis for the International Criminal Court’s activity. Russia signed the international treaty in 2000 but has not ratified it so far.