This week, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi of Argentina was elected ICC president, the first woman to ever hold the position. Judges Joyce Aluoch of Kenya and Kuniko Ozaki of Japan were elected first and second vice president.
Kelly Askin of the Open Society Justice Initiative said that Fernández de Gurmendi’s election “marks a significant step forward for the proper representation of women in the top ranks of international justice.” The Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) also welcomed the election.
A former diplomat, Fernández de Gurmendi was involved in the creation of the ICC in the 1990s. As president, she will be responsible for overseeing the Court’s administration and for its relations with states and international organizations.
“It is a great honor to have been elected President of the International Criminal Court. I will do my utmost to live up to the trust that my fellow judges have placed in me,” said Fernández de Gurmendi. “I look forward to working together with the two vice presidents, Judge Joyce Aluoch and Judge Kuniko Ozaki, and indeed all the judges and other organs of the Court, as well the Assembly of States Parties, civil society and the international community at large, in fulfilling the ICC’s important mandate for the sake of justice, peace and the rule of law.”
Advancing gender justice
The world is facing an increasing number of new armed conflict situations, all characterized by widespread sexual and gender-based violence. Gender crimes, rape and other forms of sexual violence are near endemic to conflict and are intentionally used as tools of warfare to terrorize, degrade and punish communities. They also disproportionately affect women.
This International Women’s Day, our Coalition asked states and civil society to pledge to support the ICC and the Rome Statute system as an important way to hold perpetrators to account.
Also on International Women’s Day, Amnesty International warned that victims of sexual and gender-based violence are often denied access to justice. The International Federation for Human Rights called on states to recognize the serious threats faced by women, including sexual and gender-based violence in conflict, and WIGJ urged governments to ensure greater safety for women and girls during and after times of war. FORUM-ASIA welcomed advances for women and urged progress to end impunity and protect women human rights defenders.
The ICC reaffirmed its commitment to ending sexual and gender-based violence.
Central African Republic
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN Security Council to use its visit to the CAR to denounce attacks against civilians.
ICC judges decided to terminate the proceedings against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and vacate the summons to appear against him. Judges also granted the ICC prosecutor leave to appeal the decision not to refer the Kenyan government to the Assembly of States Parties for non-cooperation relating to the Kenyatta case. Kenya’s UN representative criticized the prosecutor for pursuing the appeal.
Ugandan activist David Matsanga petitioned the Kenyan government to make the full Waki report public. Meanwhile, a Kenyan human rights activist called on the government to arrest those responsible for the death of ICC witness Meshack Yebei.
The International Crisis Group said that the ICC prosecutor’s “suspension” of the Darfur investigation gives Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir more confidence that he will not be prosecuted. HRW’s Richard Dicker told the New York Times that the ICC prosecutor is trying to apportion blame on the Security Council for the lack of progress in the Darfur cases. Mariana Rodriguez-Pareja and the Coalition’s Stephen Lamony argued that Sudan, the UN Security Council and UN member states must do more to cooperate with the ICC and fight impunity in Sudan.
The UN announced that UNAMID will be cut back and revamped. Gunmen ambushed a UNAMID and WFP convoy, injuring one person. The UN’s humanitarian chief for Sudan urged the government and rebel forces to end the conflict in Darfur.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN blacklisted seven Congolese military officers who it says pose a “real risk” of committing grave human rights violations. nger.
The Open Society Justice Initiative’s Sharon Nakanha argued that the ICC should maintain more of a presence in situation countries like Uganda, even when investigations are dormant. Fatou Bensouda said that the Office of the Prosecutor has many legal considerations to make before pursuing any possible charges against members of the Ugandan military. Meanwhile, survivors of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks in the Lira district said that Dominic Ongwen should be tried in Barlonyo, the site of an alleged LRA massacre.
Libya’s elected parliament asked the UN to postpone peace talks for a week.
A rocket attack on a UN base in Kidal killed at least three people, and five people were killed in an attack on a nightclub in Bamako. The Malian government vowed to punish those responsible for the attack, which the French foreign minister said was intended to disrupt peace talks. The UN Tribune reported that the UN’s Mali peacekeeping mission is becoming among the deadliest for peacekeepers.
Hundreds in Kidal protested against a preliminary peace deal signed by the Malian government, and Mali’s foreign minister told Tuareg rebel groups that time is running out to sign on. Under pressure from European states, the rebel groups met to consider signing the deal.
The ICC joined the cases against Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé. The 8th Pan-African Congress conference voiced support for Gbago and called for his release from the ICC (in French).
An Ivoirian court sentenced former first lady Simone Gbagbo to 20 years in prison for undermining state security, but there is speculation that she could be pardoned in an effort to promote reconciliation. The UN human rights chief called on the Ivoirian government to now focus on justice for victims of serious human rights violations during and prior to the 2011 post-election conflict. UN Dispatch considered what the verdict means for peace and reconciliation, while IRIN reported that the verdict has raised fears that selectively applied justice could reignite tensions in the country.
Fourteen pro-Gbago security officers stood trial in a military court for charges related to the post-election violence.
Mariana Rodriguez-Pareja looked at events in Honduras since the ICC launched its preliminary examination in the country, arguing that the judicial system is in serious need of reforms.
Chad and Niger launched a joint offensive against the Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the group reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIS. Nigeria said that 36 towns have been retaken from the group. At least 34 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the northeast, while another series of bombings killed at least 50. Presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari sent a complaint against First Lady Patience Jonathan to the ICC, but Jonathan’s political party said that there is no basis for her to appear before the Court.
The Palestinian government said that Israel will release tax revenues withheld after Palestine joined the ICC.
Campaign for Global Justice
A Foreign Policy columnist argued that the new Sri Lankan government should demonstrate its commitment to justice by joining the ICC.
What else is happening?
In a contribution to the International Center for Transitional Justice’s impunity debate, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda argued that the world must support the ICC and remain firm in the fight against impunity.
Susannah Sirkin of Physicians for Human Rights told Reuters that the situation in Syria should bereferred to the ICC.
An Insitute for Security Studies seminar found that the ICC’s preliminary examination in Palestine is unlikely to change the Court’s relationship with Africa. Botswana said that it has no intention to leave the ICC. Fatou Bensouda said that increased collaboration and engagement between the UN Human Rights Council and the ICC could increase the Court’s effectiveness.
Istanbul’s 7th High Criminal Court ordered a new inquiry into the 2010 raid on Mavi Marmara aid ship, which the ICC prosecutor declined to investigate.
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