#GlobalJusticeWeekly – Civil society urges support for ending impunity on International Justice Day

Staff from FORUM-ASIA show their support for international justice. © FORUM-ASIA

Staff from FORUM-ASIA show their support for international justice. © FORUM-ASIA

As International Justice Day (IJD) celebrations continued this week, the Coalition for the ICC called on civil society and governments worldwide to reaffirm their support for the ICC and the pursuit of peace through justice and the rule of law.

“In effect, 2014 represents the 20th anniversary of the new age of international justice and International Justice Day offers all of us an opportunity to reflect on the threats, challenges and changes to the international justice system that must be addressed in the years ahead,” said William R. Pace, convenor of the Coalition. “Since 1994, with the beginnings of the UN Security Council tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the General Assembly consideration of the draft that would become the ICC Rome Statute, there has been a revolution of prosecuting grave crimes at the national, regional and global levels.”

Read more about International Justice Day activities around the world



International Justice Day

The Coalition issued a statement and held a special video conference on the relationship between the UN Security Council and the ICC. The American Bar Association (ABA) released a statement in support of IJD and launched a new website for its ICC project. In a Huffington Post op-ed, the ABA’s Kip Hale called for individuals to make their voices heard in support of international justice. No Peace Without Justice urged states to reaffirm their commitments against impunityParliamentarians for Global Action held a conference to discuss the steps that need to be taken to give full effect to the principle of complementarity in Uganda and the DRC. Destination Justice co-organized a showing of the ICC’s Justice Matters multimedia exhibition in Phnom Penh. The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) commemorated IJD by reviewing five scenarios where national judicial systems delivered justice where it mattered most. Avocats Sans Frontières affirmed the need for victims of grave crimes to see justice being done in order to increase their confidence and participation in justice processes. Human Rights Agenda called on Turkey to join the ICC, and theTurkish Coalition for the ICC issued a statement in celebration of IJD.

ICC President Sang-Hyun Song issued a statement, calling IJD a day to unite around a more just world. Courtys, the contractor for the new ICC premises in The Hague, donated € 75,000 to the Trust Fund for Victims.

The governments of PolandFrance, the United KingdomItaly and Cyprus, as well as the European Union and the members of the Green Party in the European Parliament, each issued statements commemorating IJD.

Central African Republic

Human Rights Watch (HRWwarned that sectarian violence and displacement are increasing in eastern CAR. CAR Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke urged civil society groups to attend a cease-fire conference aimed at ending the increasing sectarian violence. Former CAR President Michel Djotodia was elected head of the Seleka militia. Key religious and political groups in the CAR threatened to boycott peace talks because they are taking place in the DRC.

The ICC Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals of Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, who had previously requested interim release. A plenary of ICC judges declined to dismiss Judge Cuno Tarfusser after the defense teams of Jean-Pierre Bemba, his two former lawyers and two aides requested it.

Kenya

Amnesty International criticized the Kenyan government for failing to properly investigate crimes allegedly committed during the post-election violence in a newly released report.

ICC prosecutors told judges that they are still waiting for additional evidence from the Kenyan government in the Uhuru Kenyatta case, while the victims’ representative maintained that Kenya is obstructing the prosecution’s case. The Kenyan government told judges that it could not find any records of land or companies owned by Kenyatta. Meanwhile, Kenyatta’s defense team called for the ICC to drop war crimes charges against him citing a lack of evidence, and a Daily Nation columnistaccused the prosecutor of requesting irrelevant information from the Kenyan government and seeking to fix the case against Kenyatta.

A member of the Waki Commission testified in the trial of William Ruto and Joshua Sang regarding the evidence gathered by the Commission, but Ruto’s and Sang’s counsels argued that the evidenceshould not be admitted. The Waki Commission member told judges that Ruto’s name was among those included in a secret envelope naming those allegedly responsible for the post-election violence, and that Ruto allegedly attempted to clear his name with the Commission. Kenyan Attorney General Githu Muigai filed a second motion arguing that the Kenya government cannot force witnesses to testify to the ICC.

Walter Barasa sought to have Kenyan High Court Judge Richard Mwongo removed from his case but the suit was put on hold until an appeals court rules on the High Court decision to extradite him to the ICC.

Darfur

The trial of former Darfur rebel leader Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain is set to open on 18 November.

Sudanese President and ICC suspect Omar Al-Bashir defended the actions of the Rapid Support Forces (formerly the Janjaweed) in Darfur. The New York Times’ Ahmed Adam discussed how the Rapid Support Forces have complicated the situation in Sudan. A Darfur rebel group criticized a UNAMID report for not discussing attacks by the government and pro-government militias.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The victims’ representatives in the Germain Katanga case said that the prosecution’s decision not to appeal the judgment and sentencing was unjust.

Presidential Adviser Jeannine Mudiayi was appointed to work on sexual violence and child soldier recruitment in the DRC. Doctors Without Borders found that women and children kidnapped by armed groups in eastern DRC are forced to work as sex slaves. The largest faction of the FDLR militia said that it intends to lay down its arms.

Uganda

Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice celebrated a Ugandan gender justice advocate who received an EU award for human rights defenders.

Libya

The UN evacuated some of their staff after fighting between militias near the Tripoli airport left seven people dead. The Libyan government warned that if the violence between rival militias continues, they might call for an international intervention.

Côte d’Ivoire

ICC judges postponed the confirmation of charges hearing in the Charles Blé Goudé case to 22 September.

The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire gave its official support to the reintegration of former soldiers who allegedly contributed to the post-election violence. Researchers found that sexual and gender-based violence in Côte d’Ivoire are fueling higher incidences of HIV.

Mali

The Malian government and rebel militias in northern Mali began peace talks. Before the talks began, the Malian army and Tuareg rebels traded prisoners as a show of good will. Prior to the talks, fighting between government and rebel forces left 30 dead. After French military forces announced the end of their operation in Mali, a suicide bombing attack directed at French troops left one soldier dead.

Preliminary Examinations

The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group resumed peace talks in Cuba, focusing on victims’ involvement in the peace process.

HRW reported that the Boko Haram killed over 2,000 people in Nigeria in the first half of 2014. A local Nigerian group said that it wants the ICC to probe communal violence in Taraba State.

Campaign for Global Justice

Al-Haq demanded Israel end attacks on Gaza and urged Palestine to join the ICC without delay. The Palestinian Authority’s envoy to the UN Human Rights Committee described Hamas’s rocket attacks as crimes against humanity and said that all Palestinian groups would need to abide by international law if the government were to join the ICC.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Coalition for the ICC urged Ukraine to join the ICC.

What else is happening?

At a press briefing in New York, Coalition Convenor William Pace told Inner City Press that the UN should limit any non-essential contact with ICC suspects. 

FIDH condemned attacks in Israel and Gaza that could qualify as war crimes, calling for the UN Security Council and ICC to get involved. HRW called for the immediate stop of Israeli airstrikes on Gaza civilians, condemning the attacks as war crimes.

HRW and over 30 other organizations released a joint statement commending the UN Security Council’s decision to increase humanitarian aid in Syria. In an interview with OSJI, a former Spanish prosecutor argued that ICC member states must give the Court more support if the ICC is to succeed. Günal Kurşun of the Human Rights Agenda reported that a group of Cypriots plan to file a criminal complaint to the ICC against Turkish government officials. ICTJ President David Tolbert and Kofi Annan Foundation Advisor Alan Doss argued that victims’ rights and accountability should not be disregarded in the pursuit of peace. Beth Van Schaack argued that the inclusion of immunity for heads of state and senior officials would make the African Court an outlier among other international tribunals, which recognize no immunity. Africa selected three candidates to be the next president of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC Rome Statute.

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