Russia declares it will not join International Criminal Court

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to formally withdraw his signature from the founding statute of the International Criminal Court, saying the tribune has failed to meet its expectations to be “truly independent.”

Russia signed the Rome Statute in September 2000 but never went on to ratify it to become a member of the International Criminal Court, which is based in the Netherlands and is the world’s first permanent war crimes court.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry criticized the court for its response to the brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, which is now under investigation by the court, and said it “can hardly trust” the ICC.

“Unfortunately, the Court failed to meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative international tribunal,” the ministry said. “The work of the Court is characterized in a principled way as ineffective and one-sided in different fora, including the UN General Assembly and the Security Council.”

Russia further criticized the court for having passed only a small number of verdicts over the past 14 years, during which only people from Africa were tried and convicted. This has led to anger from African states who have accused the court of ignoring war crimes by Western countries.

“In this regard, the demarche of the African Union which has decided to develop measures on a coordinated withdrawal of African States from the Rome Statute is understandable. Some of these States are already conducting such procedures,” the ministry added.

The decree signed by President Putin is effective immediately and confirms that Russia has no intention to become a party of the International Criminal Court. A spokesman for the international tribunal did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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