Irwin Cotler: 'Russia Is In Standing Breach Of The Genocide Convention'


(MENAFN- Swissinfo) Français (fr) «la russie viole en permanence la convention sur le génocide»

Cotler is the only expert interviewed in our series about war crimes in Ukraine who sees the Russian aggression as a possible genocide.

SWI swissinfo.ch: As head of state, Russian President Vladimir Putin has diplomatic immunity. Who could prosecute someone like him?

Irwin Cotler: Putin actually does not have diplomatic immunity for international war crimes and crimes against humanity, for example, under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court [ICC]. But what is needed at this point is an independent international tribunal for the crime of aggression, as that crime is not prosecutable under the existing legal frameworks and that is where Putin has immunity.

SWI: Russia has already been involved in one war in Syria, in 2015, which achieved nothing. Hundreds of thousands of people died, and Russia has been accused of using scorched-earth tactics and deliberately shelling hospitals and homes of civilians – like in Ukraine today. Bashar al-Assad is still president. Do you think the Syrian and Russian presidents have something in common?

I.C.: In both the cases of Assad and Putin the international community indulged a culture of criminality and impunity. For example, the international community did not intervene when Russia assaulted Chechnya, invaded Georgia, annexed the Crimea, and bombed Syria. Putin might well have thought that if the international community did nothing at each of these points of assault, [then] why should it care if Russia invades Ukraine? [Ukraine] in Putin's thinking was not an independent state in any case; [it] had to be“de-Nazified” and was part of Russia. So, the lessons in all of this are the dangers of indifference and inaction in the face of mass atrocity and even genocide, and our responsibility to prevent and protect.

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