#GlobalJusticeWeekly – No ICC investigation into Israeli raid on Gaza-bound flotilla

The Mavi Marmara was raided by Israeli soldiers in 2010. © Uriel Sinai

The Mavi Marmara was raided by Israeli soldiers in 2010. © Uriel Sinai

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda this week announced that her office will not open a formal investigation into a 2010 Israeli raid on a humanitarian flotilla headed for Gaza.

In concluding her preliminary examination, the prosecutor stated that while there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes under ICC jurisdiction were committed when Israeli forces intercepted one of the vessels, the Mavi Marmara, the potential cases are not of “sufficient gravity” to warrant an ICC investigation.

Eight Turkish nationals and one Turkish-American were killed during the May 2010 incident. The Mavi Marmara was registered in the Union of the Comoros which, as an ICC state party, referred the situation to the ICC prosecutor.

Israeli officials have welcomed the decision, while the lawyers who petitioned the ICC indicated that they will contest it. The Union of the Comoros can also ask ICC judges to review the prosecutor’s decision.

Preliminary examinations are carried out by the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) to determine whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with a full investigation. The OTP is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria and Ukraine.

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Central African Republic
Amnesty International (AI) called on UN peacekeepers to take bold action to protect civilians in the CAR.

The United Kingdom revoked the visa of Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a lawyer for Jean-Pierre Bemba who was indicted by the ICC on witness-tampering charges.

The ICC prosecutor received a delegation from the CAR government and stressed that cooperation is crucial to the Court’s new investigation in the country.

Endemic insecurity is complicating efforts to combat impunity in the CAR, IRIN reports. UN peacekeepers freed 67 hostages seized by militias. The UN said that violence in the CAR has heavily damaged food security in the country. A group of nuns reportedly saved civilians from an attack by warning militia leaders that the ICC could prosecute them.

Njonjo Mue of Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice argued that the ICC must continue with the Kenya cases, saying that they have already been a milestone for rule of law in Kenya.

The Trust Fund for Victims may begin activities in Kenya next year, the Star (Kenya) reports. A Kenyan MP denied helping to procure ICC witnesses against President Uhuru Kenyatta as a member of civil society. Kenya’s UN envoy said that the ICC is being manipulated by a ‘pernicious group of countries.’ A Kenyan NGO is collecting signatures on a memorandum condemning the ICC’s actions in the cases against Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang. ICC judges instructed Kenyatta’s counsel to stop using the title, “President,” to refer to him in Court submissions because he is charged in his personal capacity.

A Daily Nation columnist took issue with the argument—put forth by some—that all Kenyans are guilty of the post-election violence, calling it an attempt to diminish the guilt of those who were actually responsible.

Over 200 women and girls were allegedly raped by Sudanese soldiers in North Darfur last Friday. Radio Dabanga reported that the commander in charge of the troops allegedly responsible admitted the guilt of his men. The UN said that the Sudanese government blocked peacekeepers from investigating the alleged mass rape, a charge Sudan denies.

The Sudanese government denied having plans to attack a South Darfur displaced persons camp.

Democratic Republic of Congo
AI urged UN peacekeepers and Congolese authorities to protect civilians from sporadic attacks by rebel groups. The Congolese army clashed with Ugandan rebels believed to be responsible for the attacks in eastern DRC.

Joseph Kony is reportedly shifting command of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from older to younger, more loyal officers. A new report suggests that Kony may be hiding in a Sudan-controlled enclave. The Daily Monitor interviewed a former LRA commander on her time with the group and her attempts to rebuild her life after she left.

Human Rights Watch called on Libyan militias to stop using land mines, reminding them that the ICC has jurisdiction over alleged war crimes in Libya.

Two Malian soldiers were killed in a bombing in northern Mali.

Côte d’Ivoire
ICC prosecutors want to try Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé together. Meanwhile, a rally in favor of ‘justice for all’ in Abidjan was broken up by Ivorian police (in French).

Preliminary Examinations
A Financial Times editorial argued that Colombia will need international help to implement any peace deal with the FARC rebel group, mentioning the role of the ICC and the need to balance peace and justice. For the first time, the FARC acknowledged that it has caused harm to civilians. The Colombian government extended legislation providing for continued peace talks with the FARC.

A communication sent to the ICC alleges that 30 civilians were killed by British soldiers in Iraq.

At least 41 suspected members of the Boko Haram were beheaded by an anti-Boko Haram civilian militia group in Nigeria.

Campaign for Global Justice
The Coalition called on Egypt and Vietnam to join the ICC.

Following a mission to Gaza and the West Bank, the International Federation for Human Rights urged Palestine to accept ICC jurisdiction without delay. In a New York Times op-ed, former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay faulted Europe for pressuring Palestine to not join the ICC.

The ICC president addressed the UN General Assembly, calling for universal ratification of the Rome Statute.

What else is happening?
A new AI report alleges that Israeli forces committed war crimes in Gaza, but Israel criticized the report, saying that it ignored crimes allegedly committed by Hamas. A report by a Geneva-based rights group claims that the Israeli military used Palestinian civilians as human shields in Gaza.

The ICC concluded a seminar on cooperation with the Court in Benin, which was attended by representatives from Parliamentarians for Global Action. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda attended a colloquium for international prosecutors.

Upcoming trials related to crimes allegedly committed during Guatemala’s civil war offer a test for rule of law in the country, says the Open Society Justice Initiative. 

One hundred and forty-one African rights groups issued an open letter stating their support for the efforts of Senegal and the African Union to prosecute crimes allegedly committed during the reign of former Chadian president Hisséne Habré. 

The International Justice Project, the International Refugee Rights Initiative and the Pan-African Lawyers Union are hosting a conference in Arusha on 12 November to assess the work of the ICC and its effectiveness.

OpenDemocracy published several articles on the ICC as part of an online debate on the impact of the Court. Academic David Petrasek argued that although the ICC has failed to live up to expectations, it still deserves the support of those who believe in international justice. Academic and blogger Mark Kersten argued that a new framework is needed to properly understand the positive and negative effects of the ICC. Writer Priscilla Hayner considered whether the ICC advances the interests of justice. On Justice in Conflict, Kersten suggested that the ICC create an advisory board to assess the potential legal and political risks of opening a given investigation, in addition to whether or not it would serve the interests of justice.

A former ICC judge expressed concern that proposed changes to the ICC will weaken representation for defendants and victims.

The Kenyan government wrote to the Assembly of States Parties asking that its proposed amendments to the Rome Statute be discussed in the Assembly’s Working Group on Amendments. At the UN General Assembly, Kenya criticized the ICC and called for a review of the Rome Statute and its implementation. Meanwhile, the head of Nigeria’s permanent mission to the UN said that the ICC lacks respect when dealing with African leaders.

The United States said that it will work with the UN Security Council to refer North Korea to the ICC. The EU confirmed that North Korea invited its special representative for human rights to visit the country.

A request for an ICC investigation into the alleged genocide of the Yazidi ethnic group in Iraq was rejected because Iraq is not a member of the Court.

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