Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 34 n° 316

How to Hold Putin Accountable for War Crimes

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 5 aprile 2022

Russia’s vicious attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, including hospitals, are a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and should be prosecuted as such, argue Lawrence Gostin and Leonard Rubenstein in a new piece published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which you can read here.Gostin of Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute and Rubenstein of Johns Hopkins’ Center for Public Health and Human Rights and Bloomberg School of Public Health point out that while international humanitarian law is crystal clear on the prohibition of attacks on healthcare facilities, accountability for these war crimes has been exceedingly rare. Russia was never held accountable for previous attacks against healthcare facilities in Chechnya and Syria, and has repeatedly used its UN Security Council veto to avoid referrals of its actions to the International Criminal Court.However, Gostin and Rubenstein point out several tools that could be used to hold Russian political and military leaders accountable. A few key points are below:Prosecuting a war crime by alleging a hospital was the intended target of an attack may be difficult, but in Ukraine the strikes on hospitals came as part of attacks on broader civilian infrastructure – in which case, the only proof required would be that civilians were deliberately targeted. Individual Russian commanders, such as President Putin, could also be prosecuted, if they knew or should have known that the forces under their command were committing such crimes and failed to act to prevent it. While eliminating the UN Security Council veto would be the most powerful means of ensuring accountability for atrocities, it is unlikely to happen. Instead, countries with universal jurisdiction, including Germany and the United States, should prosecute these cases.The United Nations and its agencies could provide a vehicle for public accountability but are often undermined by political pressure. The WHO’s system for monitoring attacks on healthcare is deeply flawed, underreporting incidents and refusing to name perpetrators.According to Gostin, “President Putin’s attacks on civilians in Ukraine are war crimes, and it can be proven in a court of law. He should be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court. And if it fails to do so, domestic courts, including those in the U.S., should use their universal jurisdiction to prosecute President Putin in absentia. He should not escape accountability.” Rubenstein adds, “Russia’s vicious attacks on civilians and hospitals in Ukraine continues a decades long pattern of violence inflicted on health care in war, for which there has been complete impunity. Now there is a chance to hold the perpetrators to account.”

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