A bipartisan group of Senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden on Friday urging him to share U.S. evidence of war crimes committed by Russian President Vladimir Putin with the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The senators were reacting to reports the Pentagon is blocking the Biden administration from sharing evidence from U.S. intelligence agencies with the ICC about Russian atrocities in Ukraine. The evidence, according to The New York Times, reportedly includes material about decisions by Russian officials to deliberately target civilian infrastructure and Russia's abduction of Ukrainian children.
Last week, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Putin, accusing him of illegally deporting hundreds of children from Ukraine. The move requires the court's 123-member states to arrest Putin and transfer him to The Hague for trial if he sets foot on their territory. The U.S., which generally supports the ICC, is not a signatory of the Rome Statute, which created the ICC in 1998. Russia also is not a party to the statute.
In December, Congress removed a prohibition of U.S. cooperation with the ICC in the case of investigations surrounding Russia's war in Ukraine. The U.S. has sometimes been at odds with the ICC, especially regarding allegations of war crimes by U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
"However, despite the urgent need to hold the perpetrators of atrocities accountable, as evidenced by the ICC's arrest warrant for Putin, recent reporting suggests that your administration has not yet used this new authority to provide much-needed assistance to the ICC's efforts," said the letter, which was signed by Senate Majority Whip and Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
"… Knowing of your support for the important cause of accountability in Ukraine, we urge you to move forward expeditiously with support to the ICC's work so that Putin and others around him know in no uncertain terms that accountability and justice for their crimes are forthcoming."
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