This week, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda condemned the mass kidnapping of almost 300 Nigerian schoolgirls by the Boko Haram insurgent group last month, calling for the perpetrators to be held accountable. The group’s leader has admitted to the kidnapping and threatened to sell the girls.
Amnesty International condemned the campaign of attacks against civilians, with Secretary-General Salil Shetty calling for the group to be held accountable for its alleged crimes. He also urged the Nigerian government to ensure that its troops do not commit human rights violations. Human Rights Watch’s Mausi Segun argued that Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting its citizens and condemned the government for arresting two women protesting the failure to rescue the abducted girls, while Zama Coursen-Neff said that the kidnappings should spur Nigeria to bring the Boko Haram to justice.
A further Boko Haram attack this week killed at least 310 in northeast Nigeria. The group also kidnapped eight girls from a village and attacked a school in the Nigerian capital Abuja. Meanwhile, a bombing in Nyanya killed at least 12.
DRC: Minova rape trial verdict criticized
The trial of 39 Congolese soldiers accused of mass rape in the eastern village of Minova in 2012 concluded this week with two convicted of rape, 13 cleared and the remainder convicted of lesser charges. Avocats SansFrontières called the ruling unsatisfactory and said that it can only be a first step in the search for the culprits. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) said that the verdict was a new affront to victims (in French). Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice Executive Director Brigid Inder discussed the verdict in an Al-Jazeera interview. The UN Human Rights Office said that the trial exposed the shortcomings of the Congolese justice system.
An ICC investigative team arrived in the CAR for the first time since conflict broke out in 2012. The director of the UN’s humanitarian operations said that the organization has failed the CAR. Médecins Sans Frontières halted most of their work in the country after the government failed to condemn an attack on one of its clinics. Over one hundred were killed in the country in the past week, including 75 near the border with Chad.
William Ruto and Joshua Sang have sought leave to appeal the decision summoning eight reluctant witnesses to testify at their trial after ICC judges granted Kenya additional time to appeal. One of the judges in the Ruto/Sang case argued that the Rome Statute doesn’t allow for witnesses to be compelled to testify. Meanwhile, a Kenyan journalist argued that Kenya’s churches played their own role in the post-election violence by becoming involved in partisan politics.
The Sudanese government dismissed reports that it agreed to move Darfur peace talks to Ethiopia. A leader of a South Darfur displaced camp said that UNAMID soldiers fled from a Janjaweed attack on the camp.
The ICC prosecutor is seeking a 22-25 year sentence for Congolese rebel Germain Katanga, whose sentence will be delivered on 23 May. Witnesses will testify in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeals bid on 19 and 20 May. The League for Human Rights, Peace and Justice expressed regret at the DRC’s National Assembly’s decision not to accept a bill on a specialized chambers with jurisdiction over grave crimes. The group called for a new draft to be submitted as soon as possible, along with a bill on the domestication of the Rome Statute (In French).
Human Rights Watch’s Matt Wells reflected on his experiences in Côte d’Ivoire, arguing that impunity fueled further atrocities in the country.
The UN said that Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony is hiding out in a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan. Al-Jazeera reported on the challenges that former LRA child soldiers face upon returning home.
An aide to Colombia’s opposition presidential candidate was arrested for illegally spying on the FARC peace talks in an apparent attempt to sabotage the negotiations. The Georgian defense minister called for NATO to deploy defensive forces in Georgia. The Abkhazia government said that Georgia’s integration into NATO would have negative consequences for regional security, while Russia said it will deploy new armored personnel carriers to the breakaway region. The Russian Duma asked the foreign ministry to initiate an inquiry with the ICC of the Ukraine government’s actions. Some deputies reportedly proposed an ICC alternative “to investigate Kiev regime crimes.” Two organizations vowed to take Nigeria‘s president and federal government to the ICC for abuses committed in states under a state of emergency.
A group of human rights groups—including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, FIDH, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Adameer, Al Haq and others—called on Palestine to join the ICC. Ishai Menuchin of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel said that Israel should have a public dialogue on the Court. Former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that Palestine and Israel should avoid joining the ICC and instead seek a creative solution to their impasse. The upper house of Austria’s parliament voted to ratify the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute (in German). The ICC prosecutor issued a statement explaining the decision to deny the request to accept ICC jurisdiction over Egypt made by lawyers representing the Muslim Brotherhood. The lawyers who made the request said that they will continue to press the ICC on the issue.
The Victims’ Rights Working Group issued its latest legal update, produced by REDRESS, which provides information on jurisprudence at the ICC specifically relating to victims’ rights. The International Commission of Jurists-Kenya and other organizations wrote to African Union justice ministers decrying the inclusion of immunity for heads of state in draft plans to expand the jurisdiction of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights. The US government reportedly decided to back a French initiative to refer Syria to the ICC as long as the Court is blocked from investigating any alleged Israeli crimes in the Golan Heights. Human Rights Watch’s Ken Roth told the New York Times that while the decision is welcome, the US should further move to ratify the Rome Statute itself. Blogger Mark Kersten discussed the merits of an ICC referral. Japan made a €600,000 contribution to the Trust Fund for Victims. Finally, the ICC president eulogized A.N.R. Robinson as a ‘grandfather’ of the Court.