#GlobalJusticeWeekly – Will there be justice for Syria?

Members of the commission of inquiry on Syria at a press conference in Geneva. © Salvatore di Nolfi /EPA

Members of the commission of inquiry on Syria at a press conference in Geneva. © Salvatore di Nolfi /EPA

A UN commission of inquiry has called for the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute perpetrators of grave crimes in the Syrian conflict, which has left over 220,000 dead in four years.

At a briefing in Geneva this week, the high-level panel added that it was ready to share the names of suspects with national authorities willing to prosecute.

It also urged the referral of the situation to the ICC prosecutor for investigation, despite the vetoes of Russia and China that blocked an attempt to do so last year.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said that war criminals will eventually face justice.

Amnesty International (AI) released evidence indicating that the Syrian government committed war crimes and called for the situation to be referred to the ICC. AI also reported an alleged chlorine gas attack in northern Syria. No Peace Without Justice called on the UN Human Rights Council to support the fight against impunity in Syria.



Central African Republic
The European Union launched an advisory mission to help the CAR rebuild its army.

Kenya
George Kegoro of the Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists argued that plans to establish an African Court will likely be abandoned since the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been terminated. A Star columnist called for the withdrawal of charges against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang, criticizing the ICC as a politicized and unfair platform for justice.

After a preliminary autopsy was inconclusive, ICC witness Meshack Yebei’s family said that they will not push to discover his cause of death.

Darfur
The Sudanese government dismissed the ICC’s decision to refer its non-cooperation with the Court to the UN Security Council, calling the Court a “failure,” but scholar Ahmed Hussein Adam said it gave Darfur victims new hope.

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir received an invitation to participate in the Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia next month.

The UN Security Council began talks on its peacekeepers’ eventual departure from Darfur. Sudan said that the withdrawal of peacekeepers from Darfur should not be conditional on the end of tribal conflict in the region.

Democratic Republic of Congo
In an International Justice Monitor post, the Coalition for the ICC’s Wieteke Theeuwen explained the ongoing asylum proceedings for Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui following his acquittal by the ICC, raising questions about the Court’s responsibility. 

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked judges to amend the facts of the Bosco Ntaganda case to include ‘direct co-perpetrator’ as an alternative mode of liability. ICC Trial Chamber VI recommendedholding the opening of the Ntaganda trial in the DRC.

Uganda
Mark Kersten argued that the ICC won’t prosecute Ugandan government or military officers. Two New York Times columnists urged the international community not to back off the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army, pointing to the group’s ability to quickly expand.

Libya
Human Rights Watch (HRW) found evidence of the use of banned cluster munitions in Libya and called for the government to investigate.

Mali
Rebels in northern Mali announced that they remain committed to negotiations after rejecting a preliminary peace deal signed by the government.

Côte d’Ivoire
The convictions of Laurent Gbagbo supporters have deepened a rift between the moderate and hardline factions within his political party, Reuters reports. Both former Ivorian first lady Simone Gbagbo and the prosecution are appealing her 20-year sentence, as the prosecution had only requested for 10 years. Justice Hub considered whether the ICC should continue to pursue Simone Gbagbo in light of her conviction in Ivorian courts and whether the ICC should have joined the cases of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé.

Preliminary Examinations
A City Paper (Colombia) columnist argued that despite the FARC rebels’ objections to prison terms, any peace deal must include accountability measures in order to satisfy Colombia‘s obligations under the ICC Rome Statute.

Russia and Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia signed an integration treaty. The EU, US andNATO condemned the treaty as harmful to regional stability. South Ossetia’s government said that joining the Russian Federation is possible but not currently on the table.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda reiterated her warning against electoral violence in Nigeria. The All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential campaign said that it will send the ICC a complaint regarding Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. The ICC Office of the Prosecutor confirmed it has received the APC’s complaint against Nigerian first lady Patience Jonathan and will review it as a matter of policy. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government said that it has begun the “final onslaught”against Boko Haram, and Nigerian troops retook Bama, one of the most important towns held by the Boko Haram.

The UK’s foreign minister said that Palestine’s decision to go to the ICC was “exasperating.”

Ukraine is preparing to send the ICC evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by Russian-backed militants in eastern Ukraine, and the Ukrainian prime minister instructed the foreign ministry to file an application with the ICC requesting an investigation into Russia’s role in the conflict. HRW condemnedthe use of cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko submitted a proposal to the UN Security Council and Council of Europe asking for the deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine.

Campaign for Global Justice
The Czech Republic ratified the Kampala amendments. A delegation of the Kuwait Lawyers Association met with officials of the ICC to discuss bilateral cooperation in international criminal cases.

What else is happening?
The Open Society Justice Initiative’s Alison Cole discussed the growing importance of digital evidence for the ICC. An analysis by the Institute for Security Studies of this year’s cases at the ICC raises questions of the ICC’s efficiency and whether reparations will be successfully implemented. Sir Geoffrey Nice, a former international prosecutor, criticized international courts and considered whether an adversarial legal system was the best way to prosecute mass atrocities.

The ICC presidency assigned judges to judicial divisions and chambers. IntLawGrrls commented on the significance of the ICC’s new, all-female presidency. The Financial Times interviewed outgoing ICC President Judge Sang Hyun Song. In an interview with the Buenos Aires Herald, new ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi said that a gender perspective will help in handling international crimes in which women are particularly vulnerable.

A Guardian columnist called for larger donor funds and more data monitoring to better combat gender-based violence. The International Committee of the Red Cross released a legal factsheet advising states how to address rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Meanwhile, the UN human rights office urged the Security Council to refer ISIS’s alleged crimes to the ICC after a report accused the group of crimes against humanity and genocide against Iraq’s Yazidi minority. A UN human rights expert, called for the situation in North Korea to be referred to the ICC. A former US attorney general launched a petition campaign seeking to have Sri Lanka referred to the ICC.

Serbia arrested eight men accused of participating in the Srebrenica genocide.

Parliamentarians for Global Action called for the perpetrators of the Tunis attacks to be brought to justice.

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