ASP 13 Day 5: One judge to go | Civil society says immunity is impunity

Coalition for the ICC Americas Coordinator Michelle Reyes Milk and Luis Toro, senior counsel at the Organization of American States (OAS) Department of International Law, at ASP 13. © CICC/Gabriella Chamberland

Coalition for the ICC Americas Coordinator Michelle Reyes Milk and Luis Toro, senior counsel at the Organization of American States (OAS) Department of International Law, at ASP 13. © CICC/Gabriella Chamberland

The 13th session of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) continued today at the United Nations in New York. The Assembly will run until 17 December.

We bring you a summary of today’s ASP plenary, elections and side events, as well as news coverage, documents and websites.

Advocacy papers produced by Coalition teams, as well as individual members’ recommendations to the ASP are available on the our website. Official ASP documents and journals can be found on theICC-ASP website.

Follow us on Twitter with the hashtag #ASP13 for real time updates and view images from the Assembly on Flickr.



Plenary session
Today the ASP continued in the morning with the general debate and judicial elections running concurrently. Several states made statements in support of the ICC and made recommendations to improve the Court and its work. Issues of complementarity, cooperation and universality of the Rome Statute were named as core elements in order to end impunity and the Court’s need for more financial resources was noted. Several mentioned the need for an improved relationship between the ICC and African states.

Lithuania made special mention of the Coalition for the ICC for hosting panels with the candidates for the judicial elections, stating that it is crucial to ensuring the transparency of the elections.

Elections
Judicial elections continued in the plenary, with no judges elected in the eighth or ninth rounds of balloting. In the 10th round, Antoine Mindua of the DRC was elected. No judge was elected in the 11th round. The elections will continue on Monday morning.

Side events
In the morning, the Coalition held a civil society meeting with governments from the Asia-Pacific region. Amielle Del Rosario, the Coalition’s regional coordinator for Asia-Pacific, chaired the meeting. Speakers included Sunil Pal, FORUM-Asia; Michael Liu, Chinese Initiative on International Criminal Justice; John Washburn, American NGO Coalition for the ICC; Shanmuga Kanesalingam, Malaysian Coalition for the ICC; Indriaswati Dyah Saptaningrum, Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy; and Dr. Snea Thinsan, Thai Alliance for Human Rights. ICC President Sang-Hyun Song was also in attendance and made a statement in support of increased Asian membership at the Court. Representatives from New Zealand, the European Union, the Philippines and Thailand also made interventions.

Topics discussed included: impediments to ratification in Asia-Pacific; perceptions of the Court in China; the impact of Article 98 agreements signed between the United States and Asian and Pacific states; lessons learned from states’ ratification processes; the potential of bilateral agreements between the ICC and non-states parties; and the underrepresentation of the Asia-Pacific region among states parties.

A meeting for civil society from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was also held. Al-Haq’s Shawan Jabarin and Mahmoud Farouk of the Egyptian Center for Public Policy led the meeting. Topics discussed included recent developments in Egypt and the possible ratification of the Rome Statute by Palestine, as well as the Coalition’s role in the MENA region. Ratification efforts throughout the region were also discussed.

Guatemala and Liechtenstein hosted an event on Challenges Faces in the Conduct of Financial Criminal Investigations. Panelists included ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel; Gretta Fenner, International Centre for Asset Recovery; and Phakiso Mochochoko, head of the ICC Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division. Von Hebel discussed the Registry’s experiences and challenges faced with regard to the seizing and freezing of assets and the need for stronger implementing legislation and cooperation on such matters from states. Fenner elaborated on her organization’s expertise in financial investigations to recover stolen assets. Mochochoko discussed how the Office of the Prosecutor uses financial evidence to investigate links between suspects and determine the structures of groups. He also noted that tracing financial transactions can help detect witness bribery.

In the afternoon, the Coalition hosted a meeting between civil society and governments from Latin America and the Caribbean. Michelle Reyes Milk, the Coalition’s coordinator for the Americas, served as chair. Speakers included Luis Toro, senior counsel at the Organization of American States (OAS) Department of International Law, Ambassador Álvaro Moerzinger, ASP vice president. Representatives of Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil made interventions. Interventions were also made by civil society members, including Nancy Reyes, CMDPDH; Elizabeth Evenson, Human Rights Watch; and Mateo Gómez, Colombian Commission of Jurists. Antonia Pereira de Souza from the Office of the Prosecutor and Oswaldo Zavala-Giler from the Registry also spoke.

Topics discussed included: the status of national proceedings; implementation of the Rome Statute; and ratification of the Kampala amendments to the Statute.

Africa Legal Aid, the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ-Kenya) and the Netherlands held an event on Cooperation, Defense Perspectives and Clarifying the Immunity Debate. The panel was chaired by Jan Lucas van Hoorn, the Netherlands’ ambassador to the ICC, and featured Dr. Tony Aidoo, Ghana’s ambassador to the Netherlands; Evelyn A. Ankumah, Africa Legal Aid; Charles A. Taku, lead defense counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwands, the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the ICC; Elisabeth Rehn, Finnish minister of state and member of the board of the Trust Fund for Victims; Amady Ba, chief of international cooperation for the ICC Office of the Prosecutor; James Gondi, Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice; and Fergal Gaynor, victims’ counsel in the Uhuru Kenyatta case. Topics discussed included immunity for heads of state under international law; the importance of redress for victims; defendants’ rights and defense reforms; state cooperation on the protection of witnesses, arrest of suspects and gathering of evidence; prosecuting international crimes in hostile environments; and the importance of transparency when dealing with victims.

The Victims’ Righs Working Group and Venezuela organized an event on Victims’ Perspectives on the Role of the Rome Statute in Fulfilling Victims’ Rights and Delivering Reparative Justice. The panel was moderated by Dr. Yael Danieli, former president, senior representative to the UN of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and the International Organization for Victims’ Assistance, and former advisor on victims of terrorism for the Office of the UN Secretary General. Panelists included Sandra Uwiringiyimana, Foundation for Hope (child survivor of the 2004 Gatumba massacre in the border area between DRC and Burundi); Mohamed Ebead, president of the Darfur People’s Association of New York and participant in the Bashir case with legal representation by Wanda Akin and Raymond Brown of the International Justice Project; Fidel Nsita, legal representative of victims; Ali Ouattara, president of the Côte d´Ivoire Coalition for the ICC; and David Donat Cattin, secretary general of Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA). Uwiringiyimana stressed the importance of remembrance and accountability for the healing of victims. Ebead discussed victims’ major concerns with the ICC and the imperative to give effect to pending arrest warrants. The issue of reparative justice and the experience of victims participating in the Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui case was discussed by Nsita. Ouattara offered his views and lessons learned.  Donat Cattin raised a number of issues on behalf of Juliette Mbambu Muhole, member of the Congolese parliament and PGA member. Comments were also offered by ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel and ASP President Sidiki Kaba.

Canada and Avocats Sans Frontières Canada held an event entitled, Implementing the Rome Statute at the Domestic Level: Exchange of Experiences. Professor Fannie Lafontaine of Laval University chaired the panel, which included Carolina Pimentel, head of project in Colombia, LWBC; Jane Adong, Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice; and Gaelle Carayon, ICC legal officer for REDRESS. Topics discussed included justice in the context of the Colombian peace process, transitional justice policy in Uganda, and victims’ rights and complementarity.

No Peace Without Justice, FIDH and Italy held an event on Accountability for Human Rights Violations in Libya. Speakers included Stephanie David, FIDH; Alison Smith, No Peace Without Justice; Salem Aki Tebali, National Economic and Social Development Board; Thomas Ebbs, London Programmes coordinator, Lawyers for Justice in Libya; Ahmed El Gasir, Human Rights Solidarity. Topics discussed included: the need for accountability during Libya’s political transition; the continuing need for redress for victims of grave crimes; the country’s worsening security situation, weak police and institutions leading to impunity; lack of resources for accountability mechanisms; transitional justice developments, the need to strengthen national judicial capacity; a proposed a special tribunal for international crimes; political prisoners in arbitrary detention; and the varying levels of support for ICC in Libya among different actors.

The Centre for International Law Research and Policy, Norway, Denmark, Georgia and Germany hosed a three-part event: (1) book launches on the Historical Origins of International Criminal Law and the Proposed Crimes Against Humanity Convention; (2) Complementarity in Practice: Georgia and Mexico; and (3) Update on the ICC Legal Tools Project.

In the evening, the Coalition for the ICC held a special reception in honor of the newly elected ASP president, Sidiki Kaba. At the event, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that the Coalition has done invaluable work to cement a strong relationship between civil society and the ICC.

Tomorrow at the ASP
On Monday morning, the plenary will begin with the continuation of elections. Also scheduled is a progress report by the coordinators on cooperation, followed by a report on the activities of the Court. Informal consultations on the omnibus resolution, the permanent premises and cooperaion will be held in the afternoon, as well as a meeting of the Working Group on the Budget.

A side event on The ICC and UN Cooperation on the Enforcement of Sentences will be held by the Netherlands, Norway, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the ICC Presidency. Denmark and the Netherlands will hold an event on Documenting International Crimes to End Impunity in Syria. FIDH and Costa Rica are holding an event entitled, Reflecting on Ongoing Structural and Jurisprudential Developments of Victims’ Rights at the ICC. Kenya will hold an event on the ICC and the Reconciliation Process in Kenya.

News
The ICC prosecutor briefed the UN Security Council on Darfur, announcing that she is stopping investigations because no one has been brought to justice for a decade and the Council has done little to help.

Amnesty International, Broederlijk Delen, Christian Aid, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Human Rights Watch and Pax Christi Flanders published a position paper on why the European Union should stop trying to block Palestine from joining the ICC.

FIDH called on Palestine to join the ICC.

Judges granted a request from the legal representative of victims in the Uhuru Kenyatta case to release a redacted version of the prosecution’s pre-trial brief.

In a Globe and Mail op-ed, author Erna Paris urged ICC member states to renew their commitments to international justice and uphold the integrity of the Court in response to the experience with the Kenyatta case.

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