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Nobel Peace Prize winner pleads for Putin arrest: ‘Biggest child kidnapper’

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Nobel Peace Prize winner pleads for arrest of Putin: ‘Biggest child kidnapper’
WATCH: Nobel Peace Prize winner pleads for arrest of Putin: ‘Biggest child kidnapper'

Nobel laureate and Ukrainian human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk is urging the international community to create a special tribunal to prosecute Russian President Vladimir Putin, who she calls the “biggest child kidnapper in the world.”

“This illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia is part of a genocidal policy,” said Matviichuk in an interview with The West Block’s Mercedes Stephenson.

Matviichuk, whose Center for Civil Liberties jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022, visited Canada this week to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who described her on the social platform X as a “proud Ukrainian who is dedicating her life to defending civil liberties in her homeland and abroad.”

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During her trip to Ottawa, she sat down with Stephenson and discussed her work documenting more than 72,000 reported human rights abuses during the war, now in its third year.

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Matviichuk says some of the most egregious crimes have been committed against children, as part of what she condemns as a “widespread” and “deliberate” attempt to erase their Ukrainian identities.

“They are put in Russian relocation camps, where they have to sing the Russian national [anthem], learn the Russian language,” said Matviichuk. “And then they are prepared for the forcible adoption [by] Russian families.”
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Last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights for the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children to Russia. Moscow says it does not recognize the arrest warrants.

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It is hard to get an exact figure, but Ukrainian authorities estimate as many as 20,000 children have been taken. Russia denies this.

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“There is an accountability gap,” said Matviichuk. “We have to create a special tribunal on aggression.”

The ICC can’t prosecute the crime of aggression unless both the victim and “aggressor state” have ratified and accepted the court’s jurisdiction.

Without the creation of a special tribunal, Matviichuk, warns it will be difficult to bring the Russian president to justice.

“We will have no power to prosecute [him] because he has immunity within international law,” she said.

Matviichuk says she is in touch with human rights advocates in Russia, who share heart-wrenching stories of stolen Ukrainian children.

She recounted one case, where a young boy was separated from his teenage sister, adopted by a Russian family and given a new name.

“He was crying and said, ‘This is not my name, I have another name, where’s my sister?’” said Matviichuk.

“This policy destroyed their identity.”

— with files from the Associated Press

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