Is the international community giving up the fight against impunity? It’s a question central to the success of the ICC and international justice. The International Center for Transitional Justice is this week hosting an online debate asking whether the international community is giving up the fight against impunity.
Arguing that yes is author and human rights scholar Michael Ignatieff. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein argues the contrary. Several special guest commentators, including ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, will also participate.
Children, not soldiers
Despite a growing number of prosecutions at the ICC and the launch of a new UN campaign, the brutal crime of using of children as soldiers continues in armed conflicts around the world. On the occasion of Red Hand Day this week, we called on governments to take urgent steps to bring perpetrators to justice. Read more…
Central African Republic
International troops clashed with former Seleka rebels days after 10 people were killed in a fresh flare-up of violence. Insecurity in the CAR could once again delay elections. The anti-Balaka forces and Seleka rebels agreed to stop hostilities and halt the use of child soldiers. Gunmen freed the CAR minister for youth and sport, who was kidnapped in January.
Several African countries rejected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call to leave the ICC. Kenyan MP Boniface Otsiula prepared a bill to repeal the International Crimes Act and pull Kenya out of the Rome Statute. Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto reportedly warned South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar against agreeing to a deal that would allow for “foreign intervention” into South Sudan’s judicial system.
Kenyan politicians criticized the Waki report and asserted that it should not be used in the ICC case against Ruto and Joshua Sang.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for the UN and African Union to take urgent steps to protect civilians in Tabit, Darfur, where over 200 women were allegedly raped last year. The Sudanese army repeated its assertions that the rape accusations are false.
Democratic Republic of Congo
ICC judges issued new guidelines for victims’ participation in the Bosco Ntaganda case, whereby the Registry will review applications instead of judges.
The UN pulled support from the DRC’s campaign against the FDLR rebels because the government would not replace two Congolese generals leading the offensive who are accused of human rights abuses. UN officials subsequently denied that support had been withdrawn.
ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II separated the Dominic Ongwen case from that of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo. On the International Refugee Rights Initiative’s ‘Justice Matters in Africa’ blog, Lucy Hovil argued that the Ongwen case presents an opportunity for local and international civil society to pressure the Ugandan government to renew the implementation and dialogue around its transitional justice framework. The Open Society Justice Initiative’s Sharon Nakandha made the case for holding proceedings in the Ongwen case in situ in Uganda. A Foreign Policy columnist questioned whether prosecuting Ongwen is the best course of action in achieving justice for victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
HRW called for Libyan authorities to protect journalists and end impunity for attacks against them. A UN report found that Libya is beset by turmoil, lawlessness and armed conflict. The Council of the European Union reiterated its support for the ICC’s efforts in Libya.
The UN human rights chief said that all parties in Libya have committed grave human rights abuses. UN negotiators resumed talks with delegates from Libya’s warring factions in hopes of ending the political crisis and broker a ceasefire. Sharif Al-Wafi, one of the political delegates to the current talks, is planning to submit a file to the ICC accusing the president of the Grand National Congress and six others of war crimes.
The UN Security Council urged all parties in Mali to resume peace talks and threatened sanctions against those who resume hostilities.
Ivoire Justice answered seven common questions about Côte d’Ivoire’s national proceedings related to the post-election violence (in French).
A Post-Conflict Justice columnist argued that while the ICC has prompted national investigations and prosecutions of atrocities in Colombia, it has not reduced violence. A Foreign Policy columnist detailed the role justice plays in Colombia’s peace talks and how the ICC has affected the government’s options. Two Huffington Post columnists, citing the low number of convictions in sexual violence cases, called for a stronger institutional framework in order to provide redress to victims of Colombia’s internal conflict. Two openGlobalRights columnists used the example of Colombia to argue that the ICC prosecutor should consider the interests of peace as well as justice when encountering a situation involving ongoing peace talks.
Nigeria postponed its presidential and legislative elections to March 28. Meanwhile, the Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice (NCDJ) filed supplementary evidence to the ICC against Muhammadu Buhari detailing his alleged role in Nigeria’s 2011 post-election violence. Chad’s military said that it repelled a Boko Haram attack on Gamburu, Nigeria, while Niger declared a state of emergency on its border after attacks by the group. Thousands fled from the town of Diffa, Niger following attacks. Nigeria and its four bordering countries (Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Benin) announced plans to deploy an 8,750-strong force by next month to combat the Boko Haram.
The Coalition for the ICC’s Matthew Cannock told the Globe and Mail that both Palestinians and Israelis will be under scrutiny in the ICC’s Palestine preliminary examination. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the formation of a committee to follow up ‘lawsuits’ to be brought to the ICC in April, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that Israel’s decision to expand four West Bank settlements gives credence to Palestine’s decision to accept ICC jurisdiction. The EU called on Israel to release Palestinian tax revenues. Activists protested a United States congressional hearing on Palestine and the ICC. A Lawfare columnist argued that the Obama administration has some leeway to decide whether or not to withhold funds from Palestine as a result of it joining the Court. ICC expert David Bosco considered what might happen if the UN Security Council considered deferring any possible investigation in Palestine. Academic William Schabas said that pressure from the Israeli government and death threats forced him to resign as head of the UN inquiry into the Gaza conflict.
Ukraine‘s Prosecutor General said that the government has collected and provided ICC officials with evidence of crimes committed in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Several experts told the Southeast European Times that international justice, including the ICC, could help protect Ukrainian citizens and grant them access to compensation. The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France announced a fragile cease-fire agreement for the Ukraine conflict. In the wake of the agreement, Amnesty International called on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians.
Campaign for Global Justice
Honduras‘s minister of foreign affairs expressed his commitment to send the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute to parliament for consideration.
Jurist columnists argued that the DRC needs to prioritize ending impunity in the country by incorporating Rome Statute crimes into domestic legislation.
What else is happening?
In a New York Times op-ed, Kofi Annan and Gro Harlem Bruntdland proposed four ideas for strengthening the UN, including restricting the permanent members of the Security Council’s use of the veto in situations involving mass atrocities.
On the International Day against the use of Child Soldiers, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda called for the end to impunity for such crimes.
In an interview with The Globe and Mail, Bensouda defended the ICC from criticism, claiming that it does not have the support and funding it needs to be more effective.
An African Arguments columnist claimed that Robert Mugabe’s push for the African Court symbolized African leaders’ inclinations to be immune from prosecution.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry praised the ICC’s decision to reject the Muslim Brotherhood’s request for an investigation in Egypt. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ director blamed the international failure to refer Syria to the ICC for the continuation of violence.
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