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Current Affairs

War crime

Date: 05 March 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Russian military has been accused of committing war crime when they attacked civilians through airstrikes and artillery.

 

Background

Russia has been carrying out strikes on civilian areas in the cities such as Kharkiv and Kyiv. Human rights groups have also flagged these attacks.

 

Details

After multiple objections, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has announced that it would open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine.

 

Laws of war

  • War crimes are described as violations of humanitarian laws during a conflict. They are different from crimes against humanity.

  • It was established under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The 1949 Geneva Conventions gave rise to these statutes.

  • It can hold an individual liable for the actions of a state or it’s military. The Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect of UN separates war crimes from genocide and crimes against humanity.

 

Differences

  • War crimes occur during domestic conflict or military clashes between two states while genocide and crimes against humanity can happen in peacetime or during the unilateral aggression.

  • Taking hostages, willful killings, torture or inhuman treatment of prisoners of war, and forcing children to fight all constitute war crimes.

  • If military need is justified, raids on settlement, bombing residential buildings or schools, and even the killing of groups of civilians do not constitute war crime.

 

Principles of distinguishing

  • Proportionality: Excessive violence should not be used by armies. An entire city cannot be bombed if a single soldier is killed.

  • Precaution: It prevents parties to a conflict to avoid or minimize the harm done to the civilian population.

  • Distinction: Armies have to distinguish between civilian and belligerent populations and objects.

 

Way ahead

  • Once a complaint for war crime is received, investigations have to be committed to point to specific individuals responsible for those crimes.

  • If the process is delayed, party to the conflict may tamper with the evidence, making it difficult to bring perpetrators to justice.