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Putin's and Lvova-Belova's actions should be qualified as crimes against humanity, we are talking about thousands of deported children — human rights activist

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Estimated Reading Time: 2 min

The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights on March 17, 2023. The reason behind this was the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia, particularly for subsequent adoption. Since then, investigations into these crimes have been ongoing, involving Ukrainian and international authorities.

Kateryna Rashevska, a human rights activist and lawyer at the Regional Center for Human Rights, discussed this matter on Hromadske Radio.

«After the historic victory in 2023, it may seem like nothing is happening, but in reality, the International Criminal Court continues its investigation into the deportation and forced displacement of Ukrainian children. New strategies are being devised to bring to justice those involved in implementing this policy. Additionally, we hope for further charges to be added to the existing warrants. Putin and Lvova-Belova’s actions should be categorized as crimes against humanity because we’re not discussing just one or two deported children, but thousands. The scale and systematic nature of this are sufficient to qualify as such», — explained Rashevska.

The events of March 2023 influenced Russian rhetoric regarding the issue of deported children and compelled Russians to engage, the human rights activist noted.

«They started to use children as bargaining chips, portraying it as the «reunification of Ukrainian children with their families». It’s termed «reunification», not «return». They avoid using the latter term in their rhetoric because they deny that these children were abducted or deported from anywhere. Even this change in rhetoric and isolated cases of Ukrainian children returning are significant because we’re discussing specific children, not merely statistical figures», — Rashevska emphasized.

She stressed that the charges need to be substantiated. Once confirmed, Putin and Lvova-Belova will transition from being «suspects» to «accused». Rashevska argued that in such a scenario, their reputational and political losses would be much more significant and tangible.

Bringing Russian perpetrators to justice also impacts the return of Ukrainian children, according to the human rights activist.

«If we simultaneously pursue these avenues without abandoning any of them but instead keeping them separate, the pace of children returning could significantly accelerate. Currently, we’re witnessing the efforts of an international coalition consisting of 35 countries. There’s also a platform within the Council of Europe addressing the rights of all Ukrainian children affected by the war, including those who were deported. Both the Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court are striving to hold perpetrators accountable. Moreover, there’s a joint investigation team operating in over a dozen European countries to aid in evidence collection», — Rashevska highlighted.

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