The ICC announced yesterday that it had dismissed a communication from lawyers representing the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, among others, seeking to accept the Court’s jurisdiction over alleged crimes in Egypt since June last year. The Court said the petitioners “lacked the requisite authority under international law to act on behalf of the State of Egypt for the purpose of the Rome Statute.” Blogger Mark Kersten analyzed the decision, arguing that it is not in the ICC’s interest to wade into political matters.
Academic blogger Kevin Jon Heller criticized ICC judges’ reasoning in continuing to detain Jean-Pierre Bemba’s former lead counsel and case manager. International peacekeepers escorted 1,300 Muslims out of Bangui, while a suspected Seleka attack on a medical clinic in northern CAR killed 22 people, including three aid workers. EU peacekeepers took control of the country’s main airport in Bangui, which will be used as their base of operations. Bangui residents accused French troops of firing on civilians.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission said that post-election violence victims will be denied justice if the Kenyan government does not commit itself to cooperating with the ICC. Physicians for Human Rights’ Christine Alai argued that the Kenyan government must bear primary responsibility for investigating sexual and gender-based crimes and providing assistance to victims, while ICJ-Kenya’s George Kegoro told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) that the Kenyan government must commit to broad investigations of the 2007-08 post-election violence. The American NGO Coalition for the ICC called the ICC subpoena of eight witnesses in the Ruto/Sang case a strong message that the Court is serious about prosecuting heads of state and not yielding to witness intimidation. IWPR reported that legal experts are divided over the ICC’s legacy in Kenya. ICC officials rejected the Kenyan attorney general’s complaints that the prosecutor’s requests for Uhuru Kenyatta’s records are too broad. The speaker of Kenya’s national assembly said that the case against Kenyatta is illegal, and a Standard columnist argued that ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request for Kenyatta’s financial and phone records is illegal because it amounts to self incrimination.
The International Justice Project urged US Ambassador Samantha Power and the UN Security Council to investigate allegations that the UN/AU peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has withheld evidence of crimes allegedly committed by the Sudanese government in Darfur. Human Rights Watch called on the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights to focus attention on recent human rights violations in Sudan. An abducted UNAMID peacekeeper was released in South Darfur. Residents of Kutum, North Darfur complained of continuing attacks by Janjaweed militia, while residents of South Darfur displaced camps protested against growing insecurity.
The ICC Appeals Chamber will hold hearings in the Thomas Lubanga case on 19-20 May. A Congolese witness in the Ngdudjolo Chui and Katanga cases demanding asylum in the Netherlands began a hunger strike. Three South African peacekeepers were wounded in eastern DRC. Access to justice for rape victims is difficult to come by in the DRC, Global Post reports.
ICC suspect Saif Gaddafi appeared in a Libyan court via video link, along with former intelligence chief Abdullah Al-Senussi (also an ICC suspect) and other former officials, to hear charges against them stemming from the 2011 uprising. Speaking during the hearing, Al-Senussi said that he wants more time to find a lawyer.
Uganda’s prime minister said that Sudan is still supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported that many Ugandans who were mutilated during LRA attacks still await plastic surgery provided by the Trust Fund for Victims, but some are ineligible because their attacks occurred before its mandate began.
Mali’s prime minister pledged to revive peace talks with northern armed groups.
In Nigeria, the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram earlier this month are believed to have been taken into neighboring states and have reportedly been sold as brides to members of the militant group. Meanwhile, public outrage at the government’s failure to rescue the girls has grown, with parents leading protests. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has called for the UN Security Council to refer the Boko Haram’s actions to the ICC. Nigeria is an ICC state party, and in November 2010 the prosecutor announced a preliminary examination to determine whether a full investigation is warranted. Amnesty International called on candidates in Colombia’s presidential election to make human rights and ending impunity a priority. The Taliban’s military chief stepped down, possibly signaling renewed interest in Afghanistan‘s peace talks. An international law expert argued that the ICC is probably Ukraine’s best chance for justice for the crimes allegedly committed during the Maidan protests, but is still a long shot.
Parliamentarians for Global Action welcomed Slovakia’s ratification of the Kampala amendments. Amnesty International urged Mexico to pass justice reform legislation that would see military personnel implicated in human rights violations tried in civil courts. AMICC responded to a chain letter calling for opposition to US cooperation with the ICC, arguing that its claims are inaccurate. A Palestinian official said that Palestine will seek to join the ICC and other international institutions amid the breakdown in peace talks with Israel.
Amnesty International urged the UN Security Council to take action over Syria’s failure to end human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch condemned the Syrian government’s alleged use of indiscriminate barrel bombs in Aleppo, as well as an extremist group’s alleged targeting of civilians in government-controlled areas. No Peace Without Justice held a training on designing a transitional justice poll for Syria. Africa Legal Aid published a summary of its November 2013 conference on awareness of the ICC in Francophone countries and North Africa (in French). The Star reported that African ICC member states want the next ASP president to come from Africa. Finally, Mark Kersten examined three reasons why the ICC gets involved in active conflicts.