Archive for category AU
ICC confirms charges against Blé Goudé: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed charges of crimes against humanity against former Ivorian political leader Charles Blé Goudé today, 11 December 2014. The Chamber determined that substantial grounds existed to believe Blé Goudé committed or attempted to commit murder, rape and other inhumane acts in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. The Chamber examined more than 40,000 pages of evidence, including some 130 witness statements and 1200 audio and video recordings. (ICC).
ICC rejects Ivory Coast admissibility challenge after Mrs. Gbagbo appears in Abijan Court: Today, 11 December 2014, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I rejected Simone Gbagbo’s admissibility challenge and reminded the country of its obligation to surrender the Ivorian politician to the Court. The Chamber found the Ivory Coast was “not taking tangible, concrete and progressive steps aimed at ascertaining whether Simone Gbagbo is criminally responsible for the same conduct that is alleged in the case before the Court.” Gbagbo is accused of murder, rape and other inhumane acts and persecution committed in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. (ICC).
UN officials say impunity should not be allowed following US torture report: On Tuesday, 9 December 2014, the U.S. Senate intelligence committee released a report finding that the U.S. government used torture. Some U.N. officials, such as U.N. Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism Ben Emmerson Q.C., have called for the prosecution of U.S. officials responsible. Furthermore, U.N. High Commission for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein stated that it’s “crystal clear” that the U.S. should ensure accountability and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that “prohibition against torture is absolute.” In addition, executive director of Amnesty International USA, Steven W. Hawkins stated that “Under the UN Convention against torture, no exceptional circumstances whatsoever can be invoked to justify torture, and all those responsible for authorizing or carrying out torture or other ill-treatment must be fully investigated.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (The Guardian, Huffington Post).
ASP rejects Kenya’s agenda to address conduct of judges and prosecutors: Kenya’s request to add a supplementary agenda item relating to the conduct of the ICC and Prosecutor’s Office to the Assembly of States Parties annual meeting was rejected. Newly elected ASP President Sidiki Kaba explained “The Bureau does not recommend inclusion of the Kenyan agenda item on conduct of the Court and Prosecutor.” Kenya accuses the ICC of frivolous prosecutions, incorrect statutory interpretations of the Rome Statute and politicizing cases. (All Africa).
ICC Ruto defence team submit video and media evidence to show violence not incited: Defence for William Ruto submitted to the ICC video and newspaper clippings showing the Kenyan Deputy President did not incite violence. One video clip allegedly showed Ruto encouraging different communities to stay united and urged Kalenjins to welcome former President Mwai Kibaki and his family attending the memorial of freedom fighter ceremony in 2005. (Capital News).
African Court President meets with AU Commission Chairperson and EU delegation: Throughout this week, Justice Augustino Ramadhani, President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, has met with Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and Gary Quince, Head of the European Union Delegation to the AU. Discussion with both included efforts to raise awareness of the Arusha-based African Court and help with its progression. Specifically, Ramadhani stressed that “We are in the process of attracting more African countries to ratify the Protocol” establishing the Court. (All Africa).
ICC Prosecution seeks leave to appeal decision not to refer Kenya for non-cooperation: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to appeal its March 2014, decision not to refer the Kenyan government to the Assembly of State Parties. Bensouda had accused Kenya of non-compliance for failing to disclose requested financial and communication documents in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and asked for a referral to the ASP and an indefinite postponement of Kenyatta’s trial. Bensouda stated the ICC’s decision “unless soon remedied on appeal will be a setback to the proceedings in that it will leave a decision fraught with error to cloud or unravel the judicial.” (Daily Nation).
ICC PTC finds Libya in non-compliance and refers Libya to the UNSC: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a decision on 10 December 2014, finding that Libya failed to comply with requests to surrender to the Court the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, as well as to return specified documents seized to the appropriate parties and destroy any copies in Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s case. The Chamber referred the matter of Libya’s non-compliance to the U.N. Security Council under article 87(7) of the Rome Statute. The Security Council is asked to “consider any possible measure aimed at achieving Libya’s compliance with its outstanding obligations vis-à-vis the Court.” (ICC).
Africa, Cooperation and Resources focus of ASP meeting: On Monday, 8 December 2014, the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties began at the U.N. headquarters in New York. Africa appears to be the focus of the meeting with newly elected ASP President Sidiki Kaba asking member states to help “change Africa’s negative perception of the court.” Furthermore, Kenya’s U.N. Ambassador Macharia Kamau requested the ASP to address concerns the government and the Africa Union have regarding the ICC and the Prosecutor’s Office. Human Rights Watch stressed that the ICC needs the appropriate political backing and resources to ensure justice for serious violations of international law. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (ABC News, Human Rights Watch).
UN official marks anniversary of Genocide Convention, saying no country immune: Tuesday, 9 December 2014, marked the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Genocide Convention. At the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng paid tribute to those who lost their lives to genocide. Dieng stated that “We must accept that there is no part of the world that can consider itself immune from the risk of genocide and all regions and all States must build resilience to these crimes.” Dieng’s office intends to launch a new Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes this week that focuses on prevention strategies and warning signs. (UN News Centre).
Croatia considering order for review of Seselj release: The Croatian Parliament is in the process of passing a declaration to condemn the provisional release of Vojislav Seselj by the tribunal and to demand a review of Serbia’s candidacy for EU membership. If passed unanimously, the declaration would serve as strong support to the Croatian ambassador to the UNN during a debate on the work of the ICTY. (Daje).
UNAMID shuts Darfur office amid tensions: The Sudanese government made a request on Tuesday that UNAMID exit the site where an alleged mass rape by Sudanese troops took place. The foreign ministry said Sudanese authorities closed the UNAMID office because it was outside Darfur and the mandate does not allow for an office in Khartoum. Discussions are under way to clarify the role of the Khartoum-based office. (Reuters).
ICT sentences former leader Hossain to death: Mobarak Hossain was found guilty of murder, abduction and torture during the 1871 civil war. He has been sentenced to death, making his the fourteenth death sentence to be handed down by the tribunal. HRW has expressed concern regarding the court’s procedures. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (BBC, Reuters).
Kenyan NGO seeks signatures on ICC criticism of government: The Kenyan Citizens Coalition, a non-governmental organization, stated that the Kenyan government is not to blame for the lagging case against President Uhuru Kenyatta. The NGO stated that the ICC has not properly investigated the case and should not allocate the blame onto the Kenyan government. The Kenyan Citizens Coalition announced plans to start collecting signatures from citizens, Kenyan Organizations, and International Partners to compel the ICC to stop apportioning the blame. The organization’s convener, Ngunjiri Wambugu, stated that these signatures will be compiled into a memorandum that will be sent to the United Nations Security Council, the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC, the European Union, and the African Union. ICC judges will soon rule whether the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will be granted more time for investigations against Kenyatta and suspend the trial date or to throw the case out altogether. (Capital News)
ICTR celebrates 20 year anniversary: The UN-ICTR for Rwanda will celebrate its 20th year operating in Arusha. Prosecutor for the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, will join for celebrations and as panelist with other prosecutors to debate on the lessons of empowerment of national jurisdictions to prosecute international crimes. The ICTR was established in 1994 following the Rwandan genocide between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The ICTR to date has indicted 93 individuals total, 61 of which were sentenced. (Daily News)
141 human rights organizations support trial of Habré: 141 African human rights organizations from 32 different countries issued a letter on 2 November 2014 praising the efforts of Senegal and the African Union to prosecute crimes. Former Chadian president, Hisséne Habré, stands accused of thousands of political killings and torture from 1982 to 1990. Habré was indicted in July 2013 by the Extraordinary African Chambers and is now in pretrial detention. Habré’s trial would begin in early 2015 if judges rule that a trial is justified. The letter states that a fair and transparent trial for Habré, if the case went forward, would help hold those accountable for their crimes. The letter also calls for fair and transparent trials for officials from Habré’s administration whose trials are scheduled to begin November 13th. (Human Rights Watch)
Libyan court postpones trial of former Gaddafi officials: Libyan court has postponed the trial of ex-officials that served under former leader Muammar Gaddafi until 16 November 2014. This postponement is connected to the proceedings against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi before the ICC. The ICC has ordered Libya to hand over Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to be tried before the ICC. With respect to Senussi, the ICC Appeals Chamber found in July 2014 that Senussi could be tried before local Libya courts. The trial of 23 defendants occurred in Tripoli’s al-Hadba prison while Saif Al-Gaddafi is being tried in Zintan. The defendants are charged with numerous crimes including charges of genocide and incitement to rape. (Bernama, African News) (for additional information please click here)
ICC issues an arrest warrant against Sudanese accused Banda: On 11 September 2014, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Abdallah Banda Abakaer. Banda had previously been under a summons of the court until it decided that an arrest warrant was necessary to ensure the accused’s presence. Banda faces three charges of war crimes allegedly committed in September 2007 against AU Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan. (ICC).
Russell Tribunal condemns actions of Obama and Poroshenko in Ukraine: The informal Russell Tribunal trial, which met in Venice to hear evidence of war crimes committed by the West has condemned the actions of President Poroshenki and President Barack Obama. Allegations of military operations conducted by the West in the Donetsk region, which involved the destruction of schools and hospitals, were presented to the Tribunal. The Tribunal’s ruling wil be sent to the US Secretariat, the EU, and the ICC. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (Press, RT).
FIDH asks ICC to investigate crimes in Mexico: The ICC has been charged with the task of investigating a series of alleged violations of human rights committed between 2006 and 2012 in Baja California at the hands of Mexican soldiers. The court rejected a 2011 request by Mexican activists but at this point an investigation still remains a possibility. (Fox).
Croatian prosecutor and MICT sign memorandum on future prosecutions: Croatia’s Chief Prosecutor and prosecutor for the MICT, successor of the ICTY, have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at more efficiently prosecuting persons charged with the alleged commission of violating international human rights law. The ICTY exit strategy will continue as necessary, allowing for MICT to effectively maintain its caseload in the most efficient manner. (Google News).
African leaders vote to give themselves immunity from war crimes charges: On Friday, 29 June 2014, African leaders voted to amend the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to give themselves and other senior officials immunity from war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The amendment, made at an AU summit in Equatorial Guinea, was objected to by forty-two African and international human rights groups who found the immunity violated international law, domestic law and the AU Constitution. Amnesty International considers the amendment “a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights.” (Aljazeera America).
Afewerki reported in Sweden for crimes against humanity: Several high level officials in Eritrea have been reported to the Sweden police for crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report targets Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and some of his ministers by name and lists a series of crimes including indefinite imprisonment without trial, torture, kidnapping, mandatory military service and severe restrictions of freedom of expression. It is estimated that over 3,000 people, about 6% of the entire population, have fled Eritrea because of the human rights abuses. (Asmarino).
Related: Sweden ratifies portion of Rome Statute as national law: On 1 July 2014, the founding statute of the ICC became part of the Swedish penal code. This means, Swedish judges will now have the authority to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide regardless of who or where the crime was committed. Christer Engelhardt, a current MP, said “We are very clear about this: you will be punished, and if you come here, you won’t feel safe [if you have committed such crimes] just because Sweden is an open and democratic country.” (Epoch Times).
Dissenting judge in Kenyatta, Ruto cases resigns for health reasons: German Judge Hans-Peter Kaul resigned from the ICC for health reasons, effective Tuesday, 1 July 2014. Judge Kaul was elected to the Court in February 2003 and served 11 years. Judge Kaul dissented three times in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto finding the ICC lacked jurisdiction. (All Africa).
Serbian government prepared to provide guarantees to Hague for provisional release of Seselj: So long as the former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj agrees in a legally binding manner to abide by all conditions specified, the Serbian government is prepared to provide guarantees for his provisional release. Seselj notified the ICTY in June that if provisionally released he would be participating in public meetings, giving interviews and appearing on television shows. The former leader said he would not report to the police or wear any electronic bracelet or other device that violated human dignity. (InSerbia).
AU elects four new judges to Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Representatives from AU member states elected four new judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Tunisia’s Rafaa Ben Achour, Mozambique’s Angelo Vasco Matusse, Cote D’Ivoire’s Sylvain Ore and Uganda’s Solomy Baling Bossa will be sworn in at the Court to replace retiring judges or those judges whose terms have expired. The Court has been ratified by 27 countries. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
Ruto / Sang trial adjourns to July for final witness: On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, the ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang was adjourned due to the health of a prosecution witness. When the Court resumes in July, the prosecution may present additional witnesses depending on an Appeals Chamber decision. The prosecution sought the compelled testimony of eight witnesses who have refused to testify. (All Africa).
ICTY asks Netherlands and Serbia to comment on possible provisional release of Seselj: The Netherlands, as the host country of the ICTY, and the Serbian government have seven days to comment on guarantees for a possible provisional release of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj. Specifically, Serbia must guarantee the former leader will be escorted by authorities at all times, including to his place of provisional release, upon his return to the Netherlands and for any movements for medical reasons. The Serbian government must also ensure Seselj is placed under house arrest and does not contact or influence victims or witnesses. Lastly, Serbia must guarantee that the government can immediately arrest Seselj in the event he violates any of the conditions of provisional release. (InSerbia).
HRW calls for investigation into misreporting of human rights in Sudan by AU / UN: Human Rights Watch has urged the U.N. Security Council to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into alleged cover-ups and inaccurate reporting by African Union / U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. The call by Human Rights Watch comes two months after a report was published alleging peacekeepers failed to accurately report on the bombing of populated areas and the attacking of villages by the Sudanese government. While noting the dangerous situation peacekeepers face and the pressure from the government, a representative from Human Rights Watch nonetheless finds the accusations “devastating.” (Human Rights Watch).