ICC judges have ordered Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to attend a hearing in The Hague next week to discuss the future of the case against him. Kenyatta’s request to be excused from the7-8 October status conference, or to have it postponed, was rejected on Tuesday.
Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Richard Dicker said that Kenyatta has a legal obligation to comply with the order to attend. Political allies are reportedly urging the president attend, and he is said to wish to directly address the judges. Kenyatta would be the first sitting president to appear before the Court.
In an op-ed, the International Center for Peace and Conflict’s Ndung’u Wainaina argued that judges should not drop the charges against Kenyatta.
Judges to decide if Ivorian youth leader to face trial
A key confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Charles Blé Goudé took place in The Hague this week. Over four days, judges heard arguments on the charges facing the Ivorian youth leader. They must now decide whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to send the case to trial.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda alleges that Blé Goudé is responsible for crimes against humanity—including murder, rape and other forms of sexual violence, persecution and other inhuman acts—that followed disputed elections in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010-11. He is suspected of forming a joint plan along with former president Laurent Gbagbo (who is set face trial at the Court for similar charges) to encourage attacks on supporters of presidential rival Allasane Ouattara. Taking the stand on Thursday, Blé Goudé denied the charges saying that he was a believer in non-violence and worked for peace in the country.
“Charles Blé Goudé’s arrest, surrender and appearance at the ICC sends a strong message to Ivorian and African youth to turn their back on violence and crimes, and give hope to victims who are still suffering,” said Ali Ouattara, president of the Côte d’Ivoire Coalition for the ICC.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with Ivorian rights groups LIDHO and MIDH attended the hearing and called it a step towards truth. Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice noted the importance of the inclusion of a rape charge against Blé Goudé.
HRW’s Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner told Deutche-Welle that the ICC is setting a bad example for the Ivorian justice system by so far only bringing charges against Laurent Gbagbo and his allies. Prosecutor Bensouda has insisted that “justice will be done on all sides.”
Central African Republic
Judges will hear from one more witness in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba before closing arguments in November. The CAR’s interim president asked the UN to lift its arms embargo so government troops can get needed weapons.
Claire Duffy of the International Bar Association (IBA) discussed the parameters for Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto skipping trial proceedings at the ICC. Another witness in the trial of Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang was declared hostile. Witness 637 testified that three people coached him to implicate Ruto and Sang. Kenya’s Witness Protection Agency distanced itself from the reluctant witnesses in the case.
A UNAMID convoy visited bombed areas of East Jebel Marra, the first time peacekeepers have visited the area in four years. A former Janjaweed leader sponsored a tribal reconciliation summit in North Darfur. The Darfur peace accord was incorporated into Sudan’s interim constitution.
Democratic Republic of Congo
HRW urged the DRC government to provide care for a group of demobilized combatants and their families.
Lawyers for Justice in Libya welcomed peace talks to end ongoing violence but cautioned all parties of the importance of accountability for human rights violations. The Libyan parliament will hold talks with a rival assembly. The president of Libya’s house of representatives asked world leaders to support his government’s fight against Islamist militias.
The UN warned of a resurgence of Islamist fighters in northern Mali.
A group of UN experts asked Colombia to reconsider a law that would expand the scope of jurisdiction for military courts.
A coalition for NGOs threatened to lodge a complaint with the ICC against a Nigerian governor over alleged genocide in Southern Kaduna, Nigeria.
Campaign for Global Justice
In an open letter to Iraq’s prime minister, Parliamentarians for Global Action urged Iraq to join the ICC. The American Bar Association (ABA) called on the US congress to pass domestic legislation prohibiting crimes against humanity. The Washington Post reported that the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has been lobbying Palestine to join the ICC.
What else is happening?
Senegal’s justice minister, Sidiki Kaba, who has been selected as the consensus candidate to be the next president of the Assembly of States Parties, met with ICC states parties in New York. An expert panel, the Advisory Committee on Nominations, issued its report on the qualifications of 17 candidates vying for six spots on the ICC’s judges’ bench this December.
The IBA launched an international criminal law training program for Tunisian judges and prosecutors. A senior leader said that South Sudan’s rebels would welcome an ICC investigation in the country. A legal group argues that the ICC prosecutor already has the authority to initiate an investigation in Palestine. Blogger and academic Mark Kersten argued that the ICC has seen a nuanced shift towards encouraging states to investigate and prosecute on their own.
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