Russia: Decision to pull out of the Rome Statute is a blow to international justice

President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Russia does not intend to become a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which it signed in 2000 but never ratified, is a huge blow to international justice, Amnesty International said today.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the ICC was not a “truly independent and authoritative judicial body” and had failed to live up to its promises.

It is hard not to see this as an attempt by Russia to undermine the progress towards international justice

Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia

“It is hard not to see this as an attempt by Russia to undermine the progress towards international justice. This decision was apparently made with lightning speed, just hours after the ICC Prosecutor said that the situation within the territory of Crimea and Sevastopol may amount to an international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said Sergei Nikitin, Director of Amnesty International Russia.

“Russia never demonstrated any genuine intention to ratify the Rome Statute, and this announcement appears as nothing but contempt for the aims of the ICC – putting an end to impunity for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – and is an affront to all victims of these appalling crimes.”

Amnesty International has consistently condemned Russia’s repeated efforts to block the referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC Prosecutor at the UN Security Council, and the organization has also documented possible war crimes committed by Russian forces during the conflict in Syria.

“As Russia had not ratified the Rome Statute little will change in practice; however the decision is an alarming indication of Russia’s unwillingness to cooperate with international justice systems,” said Sergei Nikitin.

“Russia’s claim that the ICC has ‘failed to live up to the hopes of the international community’ is completely cynical, given that it is the threat of a Russian veto in the UN Security Council which on repeated occasions has blocked referrals to the Prosecutor of the ICC, including Syria. The ICC is far from perfect, but this statement comes across as a disingenuous attempt by Russia to dodge responsibility for some of its failings.”