Judge Tomoko Akane was chosen as President of the International Criminal Court elected on March 11, alongside Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, who became First Vice-President, and Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou as Second Vice-President. Akane replaces Polish lawyer Piotr Hofmanski, who has headed the ICC since March 2021. She will serve as chair of the ICC until 2027 as the members of the Presidency were elected for a three-year term with immediate effect.

Judge Akane was one of those, along with ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and judges Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez and Rosario Salvatore Aitala, who issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for the forced deportations of more than 16,000 Ukrainian children to Russia.

Within days, Russia’s Investigative Committee said that it had opened a case against all four ICC members who are included are included on the Russian Internal Ministry’s wanted persons list.

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Russian Foreign Ministry representative, Maria Zakharova, said at the time that Moscow considered all ICC decisions to be “legally void.”

“Russia is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and does not bear any obligations under it. Russia does not cooperate with this body,” she said.

Akane, 67, served as Japan’s Public Prosecutor in the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office of Japan and was Professor of Criminal Justice Practice at Nagoya and Chukyo Universities’ Law Schools prior to joining the ICC.

Crimea Was, Is, and Will Be Ukraine!
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Crimea Was, Is, and Will Be Ukraine!

After 10 years of occupation, it is clear to the world that the situation on the peninsula – held hostage by a repressive regime to serve as launchpad for the destruction of Ukraine – is untenable.

According to the ICC court press release marking Akane’s appointment, she and her two vice presidents will play “a key role in providing strategic leadership to the ICC as a whole.”

Akane said “At this challenging time for the Court, stable, collaborative, and unified leadership is required.”

She went on to say that one of her priorities as president will be “the security and well-being of the Court’s personnel,” and will focus on “reinforcing the dialogue with States Parties and States that have not yet ratified the Rome Statute.”

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The newest state party is Armenia, which formally joined the ICC in February 2024, making it the 124th country that is obliged to arrest anyone for whom an ICC arrest warrant has been issued who enters its territory; this includes Putin.

Russia withdrew from the ICC in 2016 following its criticism of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.

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