#GlobalJustice Weekly - Jordan: Arrest Bashir | Katanga victims reparations | Simone Gbagbo acquitted | UN investigates Libya

Sudanese President and ICC suspect Omar al-Bashir greeted by the King of Jordan after arriving in Amman, Jordan for the Arab League Summit in March 2017 © RHCJO
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Jordan: Arrest al-Bashir

Jordanian authorities must arrest International Criminal Court (ICC) fugitive Omar al-Bashir following his arrival in Amman for the 28th League of Arab States Summit, the Coalition for the ICC said today.

“Your government joined the ICC on behalf of the Jordanian people and Jordan is now bound to uphold the unequivocal commitments set out in the Rome Statute to bring to justice perpetrators of crimes that shock the conscience of humanity,” said Coalition Convenor William R. Pace in a letter to His Majesty Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein. “The presence of an ICC fugitive in Amman demeans the reputation of the Kingdom of Jordan as leading state in the advancement of international law in the Arab region. It is Jordan’s legal obligation set out in both the Rome Statute and in UN Security Council Resolution 1593 to fully cooperate with the Court and arrest President al-Bashir without delay.”

Jordan has been an ICC member state since 2002 and held the first presidency of the Assembly of States Parties - the ICC's governing body of states. 

Despite civil society efforts calling on Jordan to deny al-Bashir entry to its territory, the Sudanese president arrived in Amman on Tuesday, 28 March. Civil society now turns to Jordanian authorities to uphold their international law obligations by arresting al-Bashir without delay, and calls on all ICC member states attending the summit to actively avoid all contact with the Sudanese President as recognition of the seriousness of the charges against him. 

 

 

ICC awards compensation to victims in Katanga decision

In a landmark case for the ICC, 297 victims of crimes committed by convicted former Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga, were each awarded a symbolic compensation of USD 250.

Germain Katanga was suspected and later convicted of playing a pivotal role in the planning and execution of a 2003 attack on the village of Bogoro in eastern DRC, during which at least 200 civilians are thought to have been killed. In 2014, the ICC found Katanga guilty of one count of crimes against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes and he was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.

In March 2017, an ICC examination concluded that the material, psychological and physical harm suffered by victims amounted to USD 3,752,700 in damages, with Katanga himself personally liable for USD 1 million of the overall amount. The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) will now develop a reparations policy to ensure that justice is brought to the affected community.

Read the reactions to the decision here

 

Simone Gbagbo acquitted of crimes against humanity by Ivorian Court

Former Côte d’Ivoire first lady, Simone Gbagbo, has been acquitted by an Ivorian court. She had been facing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, allegedly committed during several months of fighting in 2011.

The violence stemmed from the refusal of former president Laurent Gbagbo to step down when his rival, Alassane Ouattara, was declared the winner of the election in 2010. The ensuing fighting resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 people.

The prosecution claimed that she had been part of a committee responsible for abuses committed against President Ouattarra's supporters, and appealed for a life sentence but the jury voted unanimously to free Gbagbo. The process had been allegedly marred by fair trial concerns and a critical lack of evidence, according to Human Rights Watch.

“I’m disappointed and sad for the victims today. Only international justice can fight against impunity, it seems. We can no longer trust Ivorian justice,” said Issiaka Diaby, president of the association for victims of the crisis.

The ICC has issued an arrest warrant for Simone Gbagbo, but Ivory Coast is contesting the admissiblity of the case. Laurent Gbagbo is currently on trial in The Hague for similar charges, also committed during the 2011 violence.

 

UN urged to intervene in Libyan human rights abuses

Civil society organisations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have decried the recent alleged actions of the Libyan National Army (LNA) as possible war crimes, pointing to footage purportedly showing the killing and digging up of fighters from the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries (SCBR).

The UN Human Rights Council has been urged, a day after the country's president Fayaz al-Serraj denounced the behavior of rival forces in east Libya as evidence of a return to military dictatorship, to establish a dedicated mechanism on Libya to ensure that humans rights abuses be continuously reported.

As the conflict becomes increasingly complex, Lawyers for Justice in Libya has called on the ICC to ramp up investigations of human rights abuses in the country, following a report published by the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on fair trial rights in proceedings for former members of the Gaddafi regime.

 

ICC Investigations

CAR: Armed groups have been occupying and looting school buildings, and preventing children from attending classes, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.

DRC: Around 40 police officers have been beheaded, allegedly by fighters from a local militia group in the south-central Kasai region. In response to a growing number of atrocities, the UN peacekeeping mission head has called on the UN Security Council to urge the DRC to investigate.

Kenya: Nearly 15,000 people displaced by the 2008 post-election violence are to be awarded compensation after a special team, working with the Office of the President, announced they have worked out a funding framework.

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Colombia: There has been an alarming rise in killings and attacks on villages across north-western Colombia, says Amnesty International - a sign that the conflict there is far from over, despite a months-old peace deal between the government and the FARC rebels?

Afghanistan: There have been calls for troops from New Zealand to be included in the ICC preliminary examination in Afghanistan after a book was published alleging civilian killings.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

Sexual violence against men in conflict situations is starting to receive more visibility, with a high-level panel discussion in Geneva last week addressing the stigma, homophobia and shame preventing male victims from speaking out. Meanwhile, a male survivor of sexual violence while in Tunisian detention testified before Tunisia’s national Truth and Dignity Commission.

A unanimously approved resolution from the United Nations Security Council has called for the unlawful destruction of cultural heritage sites to be treated as a war crime in a bid to stem growing attacks on historical buildings and monuments.

While The Gambia and South Africa have cancelled their respective withdrawals from the ICC, Zambia has become the latest African state to reflect on its ICC membership with the launch of a public consultation to decide whether to withdraw.

 

Around the world

A defiant President Duterte of the Philippines has reportedly received P10 million from a Thai magnate towards his "brutal" war on drugs, staring down an impeachment complaint being filed by the House of Representatives and threats of a case being brought against him at the ICC by two former members of his alleged death squad.

While a request that Sri Lanka be referred to the UN General Assembly recommended an ad hoc tribunal or Security Council referral to the ICC, the national government has stated the country will not join the ICC and rejected the idea of a hybrid court system with foreign judges.

“Reckless disregard for the lives of civilians has reached a new level of depravity” in Yemen, according to Human Rights Watch, after a boat carrying Somali migrants and refugees was shot at in an alleged Saudi-led attack.