In Global Justice news this week: Timbuktu destruction pre-hearing opened this week; El Salvador acceded to the Rome Statute; the trials of Bosco Ntaganda and Jean Pierre Bemba continued; ICC judged incorporated new regulations to enhace the effectiveness and efficiency of the Court; the Guatemalan Sepur Zarco trial concluded with two guilty verdicts and much more.
A key International Criminal Court pre-trial hearing took place this week to decide whether to try a suspected Islamist for allegedly destroying UNESCO protected buildings in Timbuktu in northern Mali. Ahmad Al Faqi is charged with the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against historical monuments or buildings dedicated to religion, the first such case to come before the Court. He is suspected of having played a central role in the administration of Islamic law during the occupation of Timbuktu in 2012.
The ICC prosecutor said the charge were about “a callous assault on the dignity and identity of entire populations,” stressing the psychological harm of Timbuktu’s destruction. Al Faqi who will make submissions at a later date,
This case is landmark in the protection of cultural and historical heritage say commmentators. International and Malian society welcomed the case but called on the prosecutor to expand the scope of the charges against al Faqi to include other grave crimes, including murder and rape, alleged to have occurred in 2012. They also called for prosecutions to be brought against other suspected perpetrators of grave crimes on all sides to the conflict Mali.
El Salvador’s accession yesterday to the Rome Statute is the clearest expression of the country’s commitment to justice for grave international crimes global civil society said today in welcoming the ICC’s 124th member state. The move comes after over a decade of advocacy by international and local civil society and brings Latin America, with 29 ICC member states, a step closer to full representation at the ICC. Parliamentarians for Global Action, a member of the Steering Committee of the Coalition for the ICC, played a key role in the accession campaign.
International Criminal Court investigations
Mali: Moctar Mariko, head of Malian human rights group AMDH, stressed the challenges for fulfilling victims’s rights in Mali’s transitional justice process.
Democratic Republic of Congo: Witness testimony continued in closed session at the ICC trial of Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda trial. The International Federation for Human Rights issued an open letter to the UN Human Rights Council asking to address the deteriorating human rights situation in DRC.
Uganda: The capture of Okot George Odek, a top Lord Resistance Army (LRA) rebel will undermine the the groups moral says a human rights expert. More than 200 people have been abducted by the LRA in CAR this year.
Central African Republic: Former Congolese vice-president Jean Pierre Bemba and associates started their defense in their ICC witness tampering trial. The verdict in Bemba’s original ICC trial, whichfocused on command responsibility and sexual violence, is due on 21 March.
ICC preliminary examinations
Nigeria: The Civil Society Network against Corruption coalition called on the ICC prosecutor to investigate crimes during Nigeria’s last elections.
Palestine: Academic Mark Kersten asks how long the ICC can keep Palestine and Israel in purgatory.
Campaign for Global Justice
DePaul University professor Stan Chu Ilo writes on the importance of Africa staying at the ICC. A commentator asks if accountability of the most serious violations will be covered in the African Union’s own Court.
Tunisia’s head of government of Tunisia visited the ICC this week to reaffirm Tunisia’s cooperation with the court. ICC judges adopted a new regulation regarding procedure and evidence to enhance efficiency on proceedings.The ICC Office of the Prosecutor issued a draft policy paper on the selection and prioritization of ICC cases.
Around the world
Several countries are working on a draft UN resolution to halt attacks of hospitals and other medical facilities in Syria, Yemen and other conflict zones. Amnesty International said Russian and Syrian government forces are responsible for bombardemtns of medical facilities in Allepo.
The end of the Sepur Zarco trial in Guatemala resulted in guilty verdicts for two former military officers for crimes of murder, rape and sexual enslavement of indigenous women during the country’s civil war.
The special court for war crimes in Kosovo has sparked debate among political experts and the media.
The UN expressed deep concern regarding last year’s 69 claims of sexual abuse against peacekeepers from 21 nations.
The US House Foreign Affairst Committee adopted legislation to establish a Syria War Crimes Tribunal.
International human rights groups released a report explaining the scope and importance of universal jurisdiction.
FIDH issued an open letter urging the UN on the lack of accountability for grave crimes in South Sudan.
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