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Crane Talks Justice In Ukraine, Putin With Jackson Center

When Hamas attacked Israel back in October, many eyes in the international community shifted focus from Ukraine to Israel.

But war continues to rage in Ukraine amid reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The status of prosecuting those crimes was at the heart of a talk the Robert H. Jackson Center held earlier this week with David Crane, former Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone and one of 25 individuals deemed an enemy of the state by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’re moving forward with justice for the people of Ukraine,” Crane said, explaining that the International Criminal Court “continues to investigate a whole bunch” of war crimes, crimes against humanity and potentially incitement of genocide issues.

That court earlier this year issued an arrest warrant for Putin earlier this year.

Crane said that warrant has “boxed President Putin into a corner. He cannot travel to member states of the ICC because (they) have an obligation to arrest him.”

A total of 123 of 195 of the world’s nations are parties to the ICC.

Crane said the case being developed against Putin is a “very good case” amid “so many” violations of international law that have occurred in Ukraine.

One area of accountability that has Crane’s particular focus is the development of a mechanism to pursue the charge of “crimes of aggression.”

It’s an area where the ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction so Crane said a working group was established last year to explore options.

He outlined two options to address that charge – a U.N. General Assembly-backed special tribunal or a multi-national court similar to the structure that prosecuted Nazis at Nuremberg after World War II.

“Nothing is really being done at this point,” Crane said. “We’ve got to get going because time is of the essence.”

“Time and distraction are Vladimir Putin’s ultimate distractions,” he continued. “He’s playing the long game.”

Crane said that means waiting this out to see how the political landscape changes over time.

He insists that there isn’t time to wait on holding Putin accountable, though.

Crane compared Putin’s actions to what Hitler did in Europe prior to the outbreak of World War II, poking and prodding and expanding his influence.

“The historical parallels aren’t perfect but scary aren’t there,” he said. “2023-2024 will be a 1938-1939 moment in history and we know what the result of that was – global war.

“We don’t want to go there again.”

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