Both the defense and prosecution in the Germain Katanga case this week withdrew their appeals against the ICC judgment earlier this year that saw Katanga found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The defense also withdrew its appeal against the 12-year sentence handed down to the former Congolese militia leader.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that she decided to withdraw her appeal because of Katanga’s expression of sincere regret and his acceptance of the judgment. She also said that her decision was in the interests of the victims to see justice done.
In response to the decision, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice expressed concern and disappointment that the prosecutor will not appeal against Katanga’s acquittal on charges of sexual and gender-based crimes, including rape and sexual slavery. The group called the uncontested judgment a “step backwards in the body of jurisprudence on sexual violence.”
African Union: Reject immunity at summit
Coalition members have called on African leaders meeting at the 23rdAfrican Union (AU) summit in Equatorial Guinea this week to reject immunity for heads of state in a proposed expansion of the African Court.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Amnesty International (AI) both urged African leaders not to give themselves immunity for grave crimes, and instead to focus on peace, security and justice, including by strengthening national judiciaries and cooperating with the ICC. On OpenDemocracy Carla Ferstman, director of REDRESS, said the expansion, if adopted, “would be the supreme mockery of justice.”
A consultant for the Institute for Security Studies warned that an expanded African Court would not end impunity if leaders are given immunity. A Business Day Live columnist argued that Africa is better off assisting the ICC rather than attempting to thwart it.
No Korea investigation says ICC prosecutor
This week, the ICC prosecutor announced the conclusion of the preliminary examination in the Republic of Korea, stating that the requirements under the Rome Statute to begin a full investigation have not been met. The preliminary examination, which began in December 2010, focused on the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, both allegedly by North Korean forces.
The prosecutor concluded that the naval vessel was a lawful military target and that there is not enough information to conclude that the shelling of Yeonpyeong was intentionally directed at civilians or that the impact on civilians was expected to be excessive.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the ICC to launch a new investigation into alleged crimes committed in the CAR. A report from the FIDH documented continued war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the CAR and warned that tit-for-tat violence between Muslim and Christian groups threaten to create the conditions for genocide. The head of UN Women urged the UN Security Council to take more action to protect Central African women and girls at risk of sexual and gender-based crimes.
AfriCOG’s James Gondi argued that the Kenyan government is creating fake crises to distract from the ICC cases. The International Commission of Jurists-Kenya and HRW welcomed news that the Trust Fund for Victims will send a fact-finding mission to Kenya, but HRW expressed disappointment that the Trust Fund is not already active in Kenya and called for it to expand its capabilities.
After William Ruto’s defense counsel accused him and another official of recruiting witnesses to fix the case against Ruto, the principal secretary in the ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government, Mutea Iringo, said that he might sue Ruto’s defense counsel.
ICC judges asked the Kenyan government to compel a key witness against Ruto to testify either via video link or at a location in Kenya. Fatou Bensouda said that the ICC’s credibility could suffer if it fails to compel witnesses to testify in the Ruto/Sang case.
A witness in the trial of Ruto and Joshua Sang told ICC judges that he believes fires set during the post-election violence in the North Rift region were planned. Another witness told judges that Orange Democratic Movement rallies were used to incite animosity between communities in the Rift Valley area. A witness also told judges that allegations of vote-rigging sparked protests before the 2007 election.
HRW called on the UN to investigate the allegations of cover-ups in the UN-AU peacekeeping mission reporting on the Darfur conflict. AI warned that indiscriminate bombing by Sudanese government forces in South Kordofan may constitute war crimes. HRW, REDRESS and AI demanded that the Sudanese government release detained political activists and investigate allegations of torture and abuse.
The Enough Project reported that the Janjaweed, reconstituted as a uniformed force, has again been attacking civilians in Darfur. Meanwhile, a new rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Second Revolution, was announced in Darfur and the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) launched a Justice Committee and a Truth and Reconciliation Committee.
The Sudanese presidency announced that ICC suspect Omar Al-Bashir will not lead Sudan’s delegation to the AU summit in Equatorial Guinea.
The International Center for Transitional Justice attended the National War Victims’ Conference, organized by the Africa Youth Initiative. The conference highlighted the need for a comprehensive reparations policy in Uganda. An Australian charity worker was honored for her humanitarian work during the Ugandan government’s conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army.
HRW paid tribute to Salwa Bughaighis, a Libyan human and women’s rights activist who was killed this week in Benghazi, and Amnesty International demanded an investigation be launched into her assassination.
Libya’s Council of Ministers officially approved a fund that will pay reparations to victims of sexual and gender-based violence from the 2011 revolution. Academic blogger Mark Kersten suggested that the ICC prosecutor could request new arrest warrants in the Libya investigation.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide interviewed Laurent Gbagbo’s defense counsel on the confirmation of charges against Gbagbo (in French).
HRW called on Mali to launch a special investigation cell to investigate grave crimes allegedly committed during the 2012-2013 conflict. The UN Security Council extended the peacekeeping mission in Mali for another, calling on it to prioritize peace talks and expand its presence in the north, while a UN official called on Mali’s leaders to do more to ensure lasting peace.
The Coalition’s Kirsten Meersschaert Duchens told Ukrinform that joining the ICC is one of the best ways to ensure that there is accountability for mass human rights violations in Ukraine, and noted that the government could lodge another Article 12(3) declaration, for example accepting ICC jurisdiction over the current situation in the country’s east.
The Boko Haram is suspected of kidnapping 90 women, girls and boys in Nigeria. Meanwhile, 57 girls previously kidnapped by the group have returned home. A suspected Boko Haram bombing at a shopping center in Abuja killed at least 21.
An Al-Jazeera columnist analyzed the implications of President Juan Manuel Santos’s re-election for Colombia‘s peace talks, arguing that he might need to sacrifice justice in order to get a deal done.
At a Hague Institute for Global Justice panel event, the Coalition’s Kirsten Meersschaert Duchens discussed various aspects of the ICC’s work, including its relationship with the AU and the UN.
HRW called on ICC member Tunisia to investigate allegations that Tunisian combatants committed war crimes in Iraq and Syria, and condemned the use of child soldiers in Syria by armed groups including ISIS.
Judge Hans-Peter Kaul announced that he will resign from the ICC in July due to health concerns. The ICC prosecutor and the World Bank’s Anti-Corruption Unit signed a deal to strengthen cooperation between the two.