The long-awaited opening of the trial of militia leader Bosco Ntaganda at the ICC is a significant step in the fight against impunity and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The trial, which opens in The Hague on 7 July, will revolve around two attacks in the DRC’s Banyali-Kilo and Walendu-Djatsi districts in 2002-03. He is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, including using child soldiers, murder, rape and sexual slavery. It marks the first time a militia leader faces sexual and gender-based charges for crimes against child soldiers under their command.
“The trial of Bosco Ntaganda, who spent years as a member of the Congolese armed forces while wanted by the ICC, marks the beginning of the end for impunity in the DRC,” said Clément Capo-Chichi, Africa regional coordinator for the Coalition for the ICC. “With accountability comes an opportunity to end the cycle of violence that has claimed millions Congolese lives since 1998.”
Ntaganda’s lawyers have made a last-minute appeal to delay the start of the trial.
UN panel finds likely war crimes in Gaza conflict
A new UN report says that both Israel and Palestinian armed groups likely committed war crimes during the 2014 Gaza conflict. It calls on governments to ensure individual accountability by supporting the ICC’s preliminary examination into the situation.
The report, delivered by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, describes an unprecedented number of civilian casualties and human suffering.
The panel’s report was largely welcomed by civil society, including several members of our Coalition, who urged states to cooperate with the ICC prosecutor’s preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine.
Central African Republic
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the UN to support the special criminal court for the CAR. An Al Jazeera columnist called on the international community to support and assist with the creation of the special criminal court. The CAR’s minister of justice discussed cooperation with the Court during a visit to the ICC.
ICC prosecutors said that they have recordings of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s intermediaries interfering with witnesses. Ruto said that his support for Raila Odinga during the 2007 elections led to his ICC trial. Top government officials, including Francis Muthaura, are among the witnesses Ruto’s lawyers will call to testify in his defense.
Ahead of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s briefing to the UN Security Council this week, the International Federation for Human Rights called on the Council and all states to cooperate with the ICC’s investigation in Darfur, especially regarding arrest warrants. Bensouda pleaded with the Council to take action amid worsening violence the region, and vowed to continue efforts to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir. The prosecutor also criticized the African Union (AU) for the failure to arrest Al-Bashir. Several members of the Security Council called on the AU and the ICC to ensure effective collaborations in pursuit of justice in Darfur.
Meanwhile, over 100 civil society groups called on the ICC’s governing body to take action on South Africa for failing to arrest Al-Bashir. The South African government will appeal a high court ruling that its failure to arrest Al-Bashir was inconsistent with the constitution. Former UN human rights chief Navi Pillay commented on the Al-Bashir episode, and a Chatham House fellow argued that Al-Bashir’s visit to South Africa shows that states play a crucial role in ensuring the effectiveness of the ICC.
ICC judges referred Sudan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest former Sudanese defense minister Abdel Raheem Hussein.
The Security Council extended the mandate of its joint AU-UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, a move welcomed by Darfur’s displaced. The International Justice Project and other groups had urged the Council to extend the mandate. Darfur’s displaced The United Kingdom urged the UN to follow up on investigations into the alleged mass rape in Tabit, Darfur.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) held a seminar for Congolese magistrates to discuss strategies for prosecuting international crimes.
The UN Security Council urged all parties in Libya to accept the latest draft peace accord and threatened sanctions against those who block political transition.The number of internally displaced in Libya has doubled since September, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
An International Crisis Group analyst welcomed the Mali peace deal, but questioned whether it will work. The UN threatened sanctions against any party that violates the ceasefire. Suspected Islamist gunmen killed 12 in an attack on a western Mali town, and militants killed six UN peacekeepers in northern Mali.
HRW called on Afghanistan’s government to denounce remarks by an army general offering soldiers protection from prosecution for war crimes and redouble efforts to bring abusers to justice.
Justice Info interviewed a victim of Colombia’s 50-year conflict on the role of victims in the peace process.
One of the alleged orchestrators of the 2009 coup in Honduras died.
Some of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls have reportedly been forced to fight for the Boko Haram. Two suicide bombers attacked the city of Maiduguri while Nigeria‘s vice president was visiting, and a suspected Boko Haram attack in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 97 people. A This Day live columnist urged the Nigerian government and the ICC to do more to prosecute perpetrators of electoral violence in Nigeria.
At the UN Human Rights Council, HRW called on Ukraine to join the ICC so that the Court can investigate alleged abuses by all sides of the conflict in the country’s east.
What else is happening?
The Institute for Security Studies argued that if the African Union is serious about justice, it will stay with the ICC. The president of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters, Julius Malema, called for reforms to make ICC membership compulsory for all countries.
ICTJ’s Refik Hodžić discussed the need for reconciliation in Bosnia.
The ICC’s permanent premises are expected to cost more than expected, posing a budgetary problem for the Court. Two openGlobalRights columnists argued that the ICC needs more diplomatic, financial and logistical support from the UN Security Council.
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