As human rights worsen in the Middle East and North Africa, the International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) has called for Arab states to join the ICC during the 27th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
Only four of the Arab League’s 21 members (Syria’s membership has been suspended) have ratified the ICC Rome Statute, leaving Arab states underrepresented at the Court.
ICSRF President Ahmed Omar explained how human rights abuses by authoritarian regimes in many Arab states led to the Arab Spring.
“It is no longer acceptable, and after this period of time on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in spite of the revolutions of many of the peoples of the Arab countries, to apply the death penalty and military trials to get rid of political opponents, and the prosecution of activists human rights in many Arab countries, in addition to narrowing the scope of the freedom of opinion and expression, and confiscation and closure of newspapers and satellite channels.”
The ICSRF wants Arab governments to protect their citizens’ human rights by joining a number of international treaties, including the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Because so few Arab countries belong to the ICC, the Court has been unable to investigate many allegations of mass atrocities in states affected by the Arab Spring. The exception is Libya, which was referred to the ICC prosecutor by the UN Security Council.
In his address at the Human Rights Council, the UN’s new high commissioner for human rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Zeid Al-Hussein, highlighted the importance of the fight against impunity, specifically urging Iraq to join the ICC.
Civil society has also called on Iraq to join the Court in the wake of mass atrocities allegedly committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
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