In a welcome rebuke to fugitives from international justice, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir cancelled a visit to Indonesia this week, reportedly after several countries denied him access to their airspace.
Wanted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur, Al-Bashir was to attend an Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta.
The Commission for The Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS) and the Indonesian Coalition for the ICC condemned the Indonesian government for inviting Al-Bashir to the summit and called on it to ratify the Rome Statute. The ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights also urged Indonesia to withdraw the invitation.
Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Elise Keppler said that the cancellation reinforces Al-Bashir’s status as a fugitive from international justice.
Sudan denied claims that the trip was cancelled due to denial of airspace. Meanwhile, Al-Bashir is expected to attend South Sudan’s independence day celebration.
Central African Republic
HRW called on UN peacekeepers and the CAR government to free 42 Muslim women and girls being held by anti-Balaka forces, stressing that they are at risk of sexual violence.
The CAR transitional government approved the creation of a special criminal court to prosecute atrocities. A planned peace forum was delayed in order to allow the president of the Republic of Congo—who served as mediator during the crisis—to attend and to raise additional finances for the talks.
The Daily Nation reported that a senior Kenyan intelligence official was arrested and deported after he attempted to meet an ICC witness in the Netherlands last week. The lawyer for the last prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Joshua Sang called the report shocking and said that it raises concerns about the Kenya ICC cases. He also said that ICC suspects should be detained in order to prevent witness intimidation. The Kenyan government said that the report was false and demanded an apology and clarification from the Nation Media Group.
ICC judges in Walter Barasa’s case ordered the ICC Registry to monitor the wanted journalist and report any possible movements.
The International Crisis Group warned that violence in Darfur is spiralling out of control. A resident of a West Darfur displaced camp said that he was tortured by Sudan’s military intelligence.
The International Refugee Rights Initiative released a report highlighting the devastating effects that the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan has had on civilians, and called on the international community to protect the population from atrocities.
Democratic Republic of Congo
Judges postponed the opening of the Bosco Ntaganda trial to July 2015.
ICC judges denied the Uganda Victims Foundation’s petition to submit additional information for the case against Dominic Ongwen. Two of Ongwen’s wives reportedly defected and reported to Ugandan military bases in South Sudan.
No Peace Without Justice called for the Libyan peace talks to focus on accountability and combating impunity. Lawyers for Justice in Libya and REDRESS published an analysis of Libya’s draft constitutional recommendations, calling for a more comprehensive ban on torture.
International mediators set a 15 May deadline for groups to sign the Mali peace deal, but the main Tuareg-led rebel alliance reaffirmed its refusal to sign. Insurgents in northern Mali carried out more attacks in the past three months than in all of last year. An attack on a UN convoy killed two. Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists claimed responsibility. Another attack on peacekeepers killed at least one.
Despite Colombia‘s assertion that FARC members were responsible for the deaths of 11 soldiers last week, the rebel group said that it will maintain its ceasefire. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that he will not give in to political pressure to end peace talks with the rebels.
Britain’s Chilcot report into the Iraq War was delayed again—possibly until 2016.
Amnesty International’s Steve Crawshaw told the Guardian (Nigeria) that there are rising demands for justice and accountability in Nigeria. Nigerian troops were forced to retreat from their invasion of the Sambisa forest—the Boko Haram’s last known stronghold—due to fears of landmines in the area. A Nigerian army official claimed that a top Boko Haram commander was killed in Borno. A Boko Haram attack killed 12 in northeast Nigeria. The Chadian army reportedly rescued 43 soldiers from the extremist group. The All Progressives Congress urged the ICC to prosecute a Nigerian governor for allegedly “threatening the peace of the state.”
The Israeli government announced that it will transfer $473 million in withheld tax revenues to Palestine. President Abbas said that the issue of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails will be submitted to the ICC. A Daily Beast columnist argued that Israel should not fear the ICC because of restraints on the Court’s abilities.
Ukraine’s foreign minister said that is government will ask the ICC to investigate alleged war crimes in Crimea and eastern Ukraine since the conflict began. HRW called for an impartial and transparent investigation into the murder of a pro-Russian journalist in Ukraine. The Ukrainian parliament threatened to appeal to the ICC if Russia does not hold perpetrators of atrocities accountable. BBC reported that pro-Russian rebels broke the ceasefire agreement by firing on Ukrainian troops near Mariupol. The US accused Russia of deploying more air defense systems in eastern Ukraine, also in breach of the ceasefire deal.
Campaign for Global Justice
Mexican and European civil society groups urged Mexico and EU member states to incorporate the ICC Rome Statute into its national law and for the EU to make ending impunity a priority in its new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (in Spanish). A Jakarta Globe columnist attributed Indonesia’s failure to ratify the Rome Statute to the government’s fear of prosecution. Speaking with the International Federation for Human Rights, two activists from Armenia and Turkey called on both countries to join the ICC.
What else is happening?
An international law expert considered both the challenges and benefits in using satellite imagery in ICC prosecutions.
Blogger Mark Kersten argued that the UN Security Council should get its strategies on the conflicts in Syria and the Middle East in order before ISIS’s alleged crimes to the ICC. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said perpetrators of human rights abuses among his security forces and Shi’a militia allies will be held accountable.
A Eurasia Review columnist considered whether drone strikes constitute as a war crime under the Rome Statute.
The US State Department’s Sarah Sewell said that the risks of the Rome Statute amendment on the crime of aggression might outweigh its benefits.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) called on ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to investigate alleged discriminatory attacks against Nigerians and other African citizens in South Africa. The Nigerian Senate also urged its government to refer South Africa’s Zulu king to the ICC over his alleged role in the attacks.
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