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US President calls Vladimir Putin a ‘War Criminal’




On Wednesday, United States President Joe Biden minced no words when he called the Russian President a “war criminal.” Biden went on to say that Putin has unfolded an onslaught in Ukraine, and he has not even spared hospitals and maternity wards. However, can anyone proclaim another person a ‘war criminal?’ It is not as simple as two words pronounced together. The words have been bombed. But declaring someone a war criminal is not as simple as simply calling him so. There are specific definitions and processes for determining who’s a war criminal and how they should be punished.

So, how does this process work?

A war criminal goes against the set of rules that have been adopted and followed by leaders the world over during an armed conflict. Essentially, the stipulated rules dictate how countries should go about their business when engaged in a war.

These rules mentioned above have been tweaked over the years, and their roots lie in the Geneva Conventions that took place after the Second World War. The rules that have been mentioned are aimed at protecting people who are not taking part in the way or people who are not able to fight for any reason. This group includes, but is not limited to, civilians like doctors and nurses, wounded troops, among others. Also, prisoners of war fall into this group, and there are rules that define how these people of treated.

Apart from this, there are several treaties and protocols that define who can be attacked with what weapons. Chemical or biological weapons are a strict no.

Who, then, is a war criminal?

People who willfully breach the stipulated protocols and indulge in extensive destruction and appropriation of property that can never be justified. They are war criminals.

Another crime includes targeting civilians with force, using excessive force, utilizing human shields, and taking hostages. The International Criminal Court gas defined crimes against humanity as “a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” These include torture, rape, slavery, extermination, murder, for forcible transfer.

Where does Putin stand?

Coming back to Putin, the United States and 44 other countries have already started investigating how Putin has acted over the last month. They are looking at possible violations and abuses after the United Nations Human Right Council passed a resolution to establish a commission of inquiry. Apart from this, there is another probe that the International Criminal Court has initiated, an independent body based in the Netherlands.

What complicates the matter is that Russia does not recognize the International Criminal Court and its jurisdiction. It would be tough for them to get any accused in The Hague, Netherlands. Apart from this, even the United States does not recognize the court’s authority. As things stand right now, Putin could well be tried in a country that is chosen by the United Nations or by the consortium of concerned nations.

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