Ex-UN prosecutor urges global arrest warrant for Putin
The former chief prosecutor of United Nations war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda has called for an international arrest warrant to be issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Putin is a war criminal,” Carla Del Ponte told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps in an interview published Saturday.
In interviews given to Swiss media to mark the release of her latest book, the Swiss lawyer who oversaw U.N. investigations in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia said there were clear war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
She said she was particularly shocked by the use of mass graves in Russia’s war on Ukraine, which recalls the worst of the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
“I hoped never to see mass graves again,” she told the newspaper Blick. “These dead people have loved ones who don’t even know what’s become of them. That is unacceptable.”
Other war crimes she identified in Ukraine included attacks on civilians, the destruction of civilian buildings and even the demolishing of entire villages.
She said the investigation in Ukraine would be easier than that in Yugoslavia because the country itself had requested an international probe. The current ICC chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, visited Ukraine last month.
If the ICC finds proof of war crimes, she said, “you must go up the chain of command until you reach those who took the decisions.”
She said it would be possible to bring even Putin to account.
“You mustn’t let go, continue to investigation. When the investigation into Slobodan Milosevic began, he was still president of Serbia. Who would have thought then that he would one day be judged? Nobody,” she told Blick.
Del Ponte added that investigations should be carried out into possible war crimes committed by both sides, pointing also to reports about the alleged torture of some Russian prisoners of war by Ukrainian forces.
But other variables could turn the BA.2 wave into a more damaging surge. One concern is that less than 70 percent of Americans over 65 have had a first booster shot, leaving a large group vulnerable, said Dr. Eric Topol, a professor of molecular medicine at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. And for many people who got their booster shots in the fall, immune protection may be waning. Unvaccinated people who are counting on natural immunity from a previous infection by a different variant should know that BA.2 can easily sidestep those fading immune defenses.
And then there’s the question of whether pandemic fatigue will prevent some people from taking reasonable precautions, like wearing masks and social distancing, when Covid numbers start to rise in their area.
“We know how to manage it,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, a professor and the chair of the medicine department at the University of California, San Francisco. “But the big caveat will be that there are lots of parts of the country that will not go back into careful mode. It’s wishful thinking to believe we’re going to stay in a situation as good as we are in now.”
While the virus is unpredictable, there are clear ways to protect yourself. The plans you make now can lower your risk of exposure, minimize the disruption to the lives of your family and friends and help to assure you have access to treatments if you or someone you know becomes seriously ill.
Here’s what you can do to prepare.
PAY ATTENTION TO COVID INDICATORS IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Don’t wait for public health officials to issue warnings. Keep an eye on Covid-19 statistics for your county or region. An easy way to do this is to check the color-coded map from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows community levels of Covid-19 around the country. The map is mostly a welcoming green right now, which means there are very low rates of community transmission. But there is a growing number of yellow spots, showing medium risk, in Texas, the Northeast and other areas, and orange-colored hot spots are cropping up in Montana, the Dakotas and other states, indicating high rates of community spread.
As the map shifts to yellow and eventually orange in your area, it’s time to take extra precautions, including donning masks in public spaces and rethinking large indoor gatherings where you don’t know the vaccination status of others.