What Are War Crimes? Is Putin A War Criminal?

“There Is No More Serious Crime Than Unnecessary War”: Lion Feuchtwanger (Jewish Novelist)

Karim Ahmad Khan, the International Crime Court prosecutor, said on February 28, 2022, that he will open an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine. The United States Senate unanimously declared Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal on March 15, 2022.

Despite the fact that Ukraine is not a member of the ICC, it has granted the court jurisdiction, according to Karim Khan. Based on a prior preliminary assessment on Crimea and the Donbas published last year, as well as current events in Ukraine, he said there was reason to launch a probe.

“I have already tasked my team to explore all evidence preservation opportunities,” Khan, a British lawyer, said.

If that was not enough for the world to take notice, latest reports coming in from Ukraine narrate a horrible tale of 300 residents being killed during a month-long occupation by the Russian army. Victims were seen by Reuters in a mass grave and still lying on the streets. 

What is a war crime?

In most cases, war crimes imply that civilians were not separated from military forces and were subjected to indiscriminate attacks.

Individuals can be held criminally liable for activities performed on the battlefield in this type of international crime.

Ukraine has delegated jurisdiction over war crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Despite the fact that Russia is not a member of the ICC, Mr. Putin might be probed because the nationality of those accused is irrelevant.

Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, war crimes are defined as:

• Willful killing

• Torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments;

• Willfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health;

• Extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;

• Compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power;

• Willfully depriving a prisoner of war or other protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial;

• Unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement;

• Taking of hostages

What Happens after War crime?

Individuals can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court in nations that have signed the Rome Statute or accept the court’s jurisdiction, or when the United Nations Security Council submits a situation to the court.

Ukraine has acknowledged the court’s power to examine potential crimes on two occasions, the most recent time in February 2014. As a result, the probe initiated by prosecutor Karim Khan on Monday can look into possible war crimes in Ukraine, but the court cannot look into whether Russia’s invasion is a crime of aggression in general, Khan said. The court’s competence to probe aggression is limited to governments that have signed the Rome Statute and referrals from the United Nations Security Council.

A prosecutor leads investigations at the International Criminal Court, and three judges examine evidence if a case gets to trial.

A person can be sentenced to prison and serve time in a country that has agreed to enforce the sentence if they are convicted.

The International Court of Justice, which Ukraine petitioned on Saturday, is the United Nations’ judicial branch. It is in charge of resolving disputes between UN member nations as well as violations of international law.

Let us know why is Russia Accused of War Crime?

The United States announced on 22 March that it had “credible” evidence that Russia is committing war crimes, the latest such allegation against Russia in its war on Ukraine as the International Criminal Court begins an investigation—but pursuing these charges will be particularly challenging.

The Union, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there are “credible reports” of Russians targeting Ukrainian civilians, which he says would “constitute a war crime,” making him the highest-profile American to suggest Russia is committing war crimes.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) launched an investigation into charges of war crimes, but it is unclear how Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, would be brought to justice. In addition to the suspected targeting of civilians, the United States has accused Russia of war crimes for strikes on nuclear power plants and the alleged use of weaponry prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, which establish the international procedure for war. The International Criminal Court (ICC) includes “grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions” and targeted attacks on civilians in its understanding of what constitutes a war crime, but does not include nuclear power stations. Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, also admitted the Ukraine war crimes investigation presents “myriad challenges, opportunities, and difficulties,” casting doubt on hopes Russia will quickly be held accountable for its alleged injustices.

Who is a War Criminal?

The word ‘War Criminal’ refers to someone who breaks the law of armed conflict, which is a set of regulations approved by international leaders. In times of war, the norms regulate how countries behave.

Those regulations, derived from the Geneva Conventions in the aftermath of World War II and protocols added subsequently, have been updated and enlarged during the last century.

The laws are intended to safeguard persons who are not fighting or who are unable to fight, such as civilians such as doctors and nurses, wounded troops, and prisoners of war. Treaties and agreements define who can be targeted and how they can be targeted. Certain weapons, such as chemical or biological agents, are outlawed.

How are War Criminals Pursued?

Each country has to investigate suspected War Crimes. Some Nations do so more than others.

How is War Criminal Prosecuted?

The majority of war crimes are now punishable by death or life imprisonment. Any occurrence of a war crime must be brought to the International Criminal Court to receive one of these penalties (ICC). The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established on July 1, 2002, to bring war criminals to justice. The court’s authority is founded on a treaty that has the approval of 108 different countries. Before a case can be heard before the ICC, there are a few requirements that must be completed. The crime must fall into one of the categories over which the court has jurisdiction. Genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity are among them. These are broad issues that can cover a wide range of offenses, but one significant omission is any act of terrorism. Military personnel from non-participating territories cannot be tried for any war crimes they may have committed because only countries that have consented to and signed the ICC treaty are expected to abide by the court’s authority. Crimes that are eligible for prosecution by the ICC must have occurred after the court’s formal establishment. There will be no consideration of events that occurred before that day. War crimes that meet all of the criteria for an ICC hearing may be brought to trial so that a decision on how to punish the perpetrators can be made.

Have national leaders been prosecuted in the past?

Yes, Seniorve has been prosecuted for their acts in countries such as Bosnia, Cambodia, and Rwanda, from post-World War II courts in Nuremberg and Tokyo to more contemporary ad hoc tribunals.

A United Nations tribunal in The Hague has put former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic on trial for fomenting deadly wars as Yugoslavia fell apart in the early 1990s. Before the court could reach a decision, he died in his cell. Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb ally, and Gen. Ratko Mladic, the Bosnian Serb military leader, were both successfully prosecuted and are now serving life terms.

Taylor of Liberia was condemned to 50 years in prison after being found guilty of financing atrocities in Sierra Leone. Hissene Habre, the former dictator of Chad, was the first former head of state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by an African court. He died last year. He was given a life sentence.

What would happen if Putin is put on trial and found guilty?

It is unclear. Russia rejects the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction and will not send any suspects to the court’s headquarters in The Hague, Netherlands. The United States also does not accept the court’s authority. Putin may be tried in a country selected by the United Nations or a group of concerned countries. However, getting him there would be a challenge.

Infamous War Criminals In History


Paul Touvier nicknamed the “Hangman of Lyon,” is the only Frenchman accused of war crimes for his role in World War II. Touvier, who faced the death penalty, went into hiding and lived as a fugitive for several years, surviving by selling bootleg chocolate to candy stores until the statute of limitations on his crimes expired and President Georges Pompidou pardoned him.

In 1971, he was charged with crimes against humanity when he was discovered reclaiming stolen Jewish property that he had claimed as his own. The French Colonel Jean-Louis Recordon and his squad wiretapped Catholic communities and sympathisers after receiving information that he was being held in a priory. He was discovered hiding at a monastery in 1989, dressed as a priest.


In 1944, Erich Priebke took part in the killing of approximately 335 Italians. Priebke managed to flee to Argentina and reside there for nearly 50 years, despite using his own identity and even travelling with his German passport.

Surprisingly, Priebke agreed to an interview with an ABC News reporter in which he denied his wrongdoing. Priebke was detained by Argentinian officials and extradited to Italy shortly after the interview aired in 1994.


Saddam Hussein, perhaps the most well-known of all war criminals and fugitives, was in hiding for eight months after Baghdad fell, putting him at the top of the US’s Most Wanted Iraqis list. On December 13, 2003, American forces apprehended him.

Hussein was locked up at a farm, with only a personal supply of hot dogs, 7 Up, and Bounty Bars to keep him company. Following his arrest, front-page photos of the fugitive in his underwear were published.

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