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Editorial: Faced with Russia's inhumanity, now is time for international courts to act

The flagrantly inhumane actions of the Russian military, which has invaded Ukraine, violate the international law of war.

    A theater where many women and children were sheltering from the fighting was bombed from the air. To avoid just such an attack, "children" had been written in large letters on the ground right nearby. A hospital with pregnant women was also destroyed.

    Attacks against non-combatants and hospitals are banned under the Geneva Convention. Women and children, in particular, should be protected.

    Nuclear power facilities, including multiple nuclear reactors, were bombarded with artillery fire. As with dams, attacks on nuclear plants are banned. This is because if they are destroyed, it could lead to untold damage.

    In areas that were invaded by Russian troops, mayors were kidnapped. Abduction is a war crime.

    The foreign ministers of the G-7 released a joint statement that said, "We will hold accountable those responsible for war crimes, including indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians." Meanwhile, the United States Senate unanimously passed a resolution seeking an investigation of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime and encouraging international courts to pursue the regime's responsibility.

    In response to Ukraine's filing of a lawsuit, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military activities. Russia should comply with the international court's ruling.

    At least 40 countries including Japan have sought that the International Criminal Court (ICC) try Russia for war crimes.

    The ICC, of which 123 countries and regions are members, tries individuals that have been tied to war crimes and other acts. Even soldiers on the front lines can be subject to prosecution. The defense that one was merely following orders does not stand.

    The ICC's prosecutorial arm has begun collecting evidence in Ukraine. In addition to testimony given by Russian soldiers who have become prisoners of war, video footage of attacks taken by civilians can become important pieces of evidence.

    If the court determines that Putin ordered illegal attacks, it is expected that the ICC will issue an arrest warrant for Putin. In that case, there's a possibility that he will be arrested when he visits one of the ICC's member states.

    Conflicts between countries are solved not through force but through diplomacy and the judiciary. It is a major principle of postwar order that takes into consideration the lessons learned from World War II. The international courts support that principle.

    We must make Russia halt its invasion of Ukraine, and shed light on its responsibility. And for that to happen, we need the international courts to maximize the functions they have.

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