The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) issued a statement Friday urging Russia to retract arrest warrants the country issued against senior International Criminal Court (ICC) judges. Senior ICC judges investigate and try persons charged with the gravest crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.In March, ICC prosecutor Khan Karim Asad Ahmad and Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the unlawful transfer and deportation of children from occupied Ukraine to Russia. Following this development, the Russian Interior Ministry (RIC) undertook an investigation of the ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan and three court judges. It announced charges in July against Ahmad and Aitala, and it issued arrest warrants for ICC President Piotr Hofmanski, First Vice President Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza and Judge Bertram Schmitt in September.Responding to September’s warrants, OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said, “We share the concerns expressed on Tuesday by the Presidency of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties that these actions are unacceptable, and we call for them to be promptly withdrawn.”The Presidency of the Assembly of States Parties reiterated its deep concern about the criminal proceedings initiated against the President and judicial officers of the ICC on Tuesday, stating that:We reject these unacceptable acts intended to hamper the Court’s independent mandate to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. This attack against the institution, through attempted personal intimidation of its highest officials is a grave affront to the quest for accountability and to the rule of law.

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