#GlobalJustice Weekly - Inaugurations, human rights & avenues for justice

Well-wishers as Barrow (unseen) is driven after his inauguration at the Gambian embassy in Dakar. Photo: Reuters/Office of the Senegal Presidency

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The former Gambian president agreed this weekend to the West African country's first peaceful regime change after holding power for over two decades. For many, the success of the agreement will now depend on whether victims of human rights violations over the past twenty plus years will have access to transitional justice.

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, under immense regional and international pressure including the threat of armed force, finally conceded his elections defeat to Adama Barrow a month after the elections outcome in December 2016, and without the bloodshed that was widely feared.

The Gambia in November 2016 joined two other African states in announcing its withdrawal from the ICC founding treaty – the Rome Statute. The withdrawal would not take effect until November 2017.

Some have looked to highlight the positive significance of the peaceful handover in Gambia, suggesting the apparent resolution may reflect lessons learned from previous experiences with ICC prosecutions related to post-electoral violence on the continent.

Others, including members of civil society, remain cognizant that the fight against impunity remains – and that no true peace can be achieved without justice for all victims of human rights abuses. Here, Gambia has an opportunity to serve as a model.

Set against the backdrop of an international order bracing for setbacks to historic human rights advances in the 1990s, including the ICC and the principle of states' responsibility to protect citizens, Gambia’s transition has prompted reminders from the international community that no political solution should block avenues to justice for victims of human rights violations, past or present.

 

ICC Investigations

Uganda: Dominic Ongwen's war crimes and crimes against humanity trial continued this week at the ICC, with prosecutors lining up over 1,000 pieces of evidence, including forensic evidence of alleged sex violence. But have local screenings lived up to affected community expectations?

Mali: Killing, repression and insecurity imperil civilians in northern and central Mali, HRW reports

Libya: Is the ICC failing to investigate war crimes in Libya?

 

ICC Preliminary Examinations

Burundi: EU parliament calls on UN and ICC to open full investigation into alleged human rights abuses in Burundi

Nigeria: Satellite images show government airstrike destruction of densely populated settlement areas, calls on government to investigate and compensate

Colombia: Chief domestic prosecutor considers flaws in transitional justice deal with FARC rebels, highlights vague wording could lead to misinterpretations

Palestine: Divisions over UN resolution on illegal settlements in Palestine risk destroying peace prospects between Israel and Palestine, Special coordinator tells UN Security Council. Meanwhile, Israel approves new settlements following Donald Trump inauguration

 

Campaign for Global Justice

In what should have been an opportunity for Africa's leaders to restore the hopes of all victims of international crimes on the continent, the 27th Africa-France Summit failed to produce a firm collective commitment to the fight against impunity in Africa

The 2010 Kampala Amendments set into motion the ICC's process of gaining jurisdiction over the crime of aggression - the updated commentary may highlight why the ICC remains the focal point for the progressive development of international criminal law

UNESCO chief on destruction of cultural heritage as 'new war crime': “the protection of heritage is inseparable from the protection of human lives, and we must all unite to put this at the center of all efforts to build peace”

African Union Commission to elect new chairperson at AU Summit this week; Amnesty International highlights six human rights priorities, including accountability for perpetrators of international crimes

Last week, our member the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) Serbia was subject to beatings during a Serbian Progressive Party event. Human rights defenders working on ICC and international justice issues continue to face threats and intimidation, and they, like the victims they defend day in and day out, continue to need a strong voice to advocate for their right to carry on their work contributing to crucial advancements in international human rights

 

Around the World

Continued impunity following grave human rights violations in South Sudan according to latest UN report, citing killing, gang rape and violations of international humanitarian law

Transitional justice hangs in the balance as Nepal civil war transitional bodies set to close in two weeks

Civilian death toll in Yemen conflict passes 10,000 - announcement marks first time a UN official has confirmed the troubling human cost of the ongoing conflict

Guatemala prosecutor lays out case against former military officials for alleged sexual violence, torture and enforced disappearances over 30 years ago

As Tunisia confronts truth about abuses, ICTJ gathers officials to discuss transitional justice

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation calls for UN intervention to avoid genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar

ISIS destroys cultural heritage in Palmyra after reclaiming city from Russia and Syria forces in December