The ICC Rome Statute officially entered into forcefor Palestine this week, marking an important step towards accountability and justice for victims in one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Palestine became the 123rd state to join the ICC on 1 April, having deposited its instrument of accession to the Rome Statute with the UN in January. The ICC will have jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed within Palestinian territory, and over Palestinian nationals, from that date forward.
The Coalition for the ICC’s William Pace told the Associated Press that the entry into force gives hope to Palestinian and Israeli victims that justice will be done, while the Coalition’s Yazen Abed told Vice News that Palestine must now cooperate with the Court and should incorporate the Rome Statute into domestic legislation.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organizations in Palestine welcomed the accession, while Human Rights Watch called on the international community to support Palestine’s decision to join the Court. The Center for Constitutional Rights’ Katherine Gallagher also welcomed Palestine’s accession. The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights’ Issam Younis told the New York Times that Palestine’s accession to the ICC might act as a deterrent to further conflict.
Palestine’s accession was also welcomed welcomed by a group of members of the European Parliament, who called on European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini to do the same.
Central African Republic
Reuters reported that progress is being made in the CAR, but peace remains elusive.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta asked parliament to cut ties with the ICC.
It remains unclear whether or not the prosecution’s last witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang testified this week. Through his lawyer, the witness said that he fears for his life and can only testify under safe circumstances. Meanwhile, Kenyan Interior Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo demanded an apology from Ruto’s ICC legal team following allegations that he and other officials coached witnesses.
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that the collapse of the case against Kenyatta was the worst moment for victims. Judge Christine van den Wyngaert recused herself from hearing Bensouda’s appeal of the decision not to refer the Kenyan government to the Court’s governing body for alleged non-cooperation.
A Kenyan activist investigating the murder of ICC witness Meshack Yebei speculated that the government might have been behind his death.
FIDH published a Q&A on Darfur and the ICC and interviewed Sudanese human rights defender Abd El-Monim El-Gak about the Court’s investigation.The International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect interviewed the International Justice Project about the situation in Darfur. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said that despite the “remote” chances of arresting suspects in the Darfur situation, she has not abandoned the case and urged victims to not lose hope. A group of 78 Sudanese and international civil society organizations urged the UN Security Council to ensure justice for Darfur and urge the ICC prosecutor to resume her investigation.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN cut 2,000 troops from its peacekeeping force in the DRC. A former child soldier from the DRCapologized at the UN for the violence he participated in during the 1990s.
Joan Kagezi, a Ugandan attorney who headed the Directorate of Public Prosecution’s war crimes and anti-terrorism division, was murdered. Civil society, including the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), Africa Legal Aid, the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Institute for Security Studies, condemned Kagezi’s assassination and recognized her contributions to the fight against impunity in Uganda.
Victims in the Dominic Ongwen case raised concerns about the effectiveness of their representation at the ICC.
The UN Human Rights Council decided to send a mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Libya.
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita called for rebel groups to sign onto the March peace agreement as soon as possible.
The ICC prosecutor said that investigations into crimes allegedly committed by forces affiliated with now-President Alassane Ouattara will begin in mid-2015.
Muhammadu Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan in Nigeria’s presidential election. PGA had reminded Nigeria of its status as an ICC member state and called for peaceful presidential elections. After the election, Buhari vowed to crush the Boko Haram.The UN human rights chief said that his office has received reports that the Boko Haram is murdering abducted women and girls as they retreat from Nigerian forces, and top officials warned that the group is still engaged in increasingly brutal attacks.
FIDH released a report featuring evidence of alleged war crimes committed by the Israeli military during last year’s Gaza conflict, and called for the ICC to open a full investigation in Palestine. Al-Haq criticized Israel for withholding Palestine’s tax revenues over the decision to join the ICC. Israel announced that it would resume the transfer of tax revenues. Senior officials denied a report that the Palestinian Authority agreed not to take additional action at the ICC in exchange for the release of the funds. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told Reuters that Palestine would request an investigation if the ICC’s preliminary examination takes too long and that the government will hand over Palestinian suspects if asked by the Court. On Foreign Policy, David Bosco argued that Israel can avoid being brought before the ICC by holding its own genuine investigations. Legal expert Kevin Jon Hellerargued that the ICC is unlikely to open an investigation into the situation in Palestine.
Campaign for Global Justice
PGA welcomed the approval of the Kampala amendments to the ICC Rome Statute by the Czech Republic and Switzerland. South Sudan’s justice minister said that his country will not join the ICC. The Democratic Action Party of Malaysia called on the government to ratify the Rome Statute.
What else is happening?
FIDH met with ICC Prosecutor Fatour Bensouda and discussed the opportunities and challenges currently facing the Office of the Prosecutor, as well as specific situations of international crimes.
FIDH President Karim Lahidji called for the UN to act on Syria and refer the situation to the ICC. Switzerland called for the UN to refer alleged war crimes in Iraq and Syria to the Court, while France said that it will press the Security Council to refer ISIS to the ICC. In a New York Times op-ed, John Bellinger argued that ISIS’s alleged offenses should be prosecuted by the ICC and called for the US to support a UN Security Council referral.
Members of the Yemeni community in the U.S. condemned the Houthi-led coup in Yemen anddemanded that those held responsible be prosecuted at the ICC.
The trial of Bosnian Serb Dragomir Basic, an ex-police chief and current MP charged with genocide, began on Thursday at the Bosnian state court.
The president and CEO of the Associated Press called on the international community to make it a war crime to kill journalists or take them hostage.
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