Ghana: Adopt ICC Bill | Moroccans protest Bashir visit | Halting human trafficking

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Ghana: Civil society urges adoption of ICC Bill

Civil society is urging Ghana to adopt a pending Bill for the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure national courts can try perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Ghana accepted a United Nations Human Rights Council recommendation in 2012 to domesticate the Rome Statute by November 2017. 

Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) Executive Director William Nyarko commended Ghana's original commitment to international justice as the second African state to ratify the ICC founding treaty, but pushed for the government to take the next step: giving the Statute effect under domestic law.

By passing the bill to enable domestic courts to prosecute perpetrators of Rome Statute crimes as well as the transfer of cases that domestic courts are unable to prosecute to the ICC, Ghana would be following in the footsteps of Botswana, which ratified the Statute in 2000 and recently saw its own domestification bill receive overwhelming support.

In the case of Botswana, the development came after strong words of support from Minister of Defence Justice and Security Shaw Kgathi: "It does not matter who you are. If you killed people, if you committed these grave offences, and we are talking about genocides, crimes against humanity, war crimes, they will prosecute you. They do not care what position you actually hold [or] where you come from.”

At an African Union summit earlier this year, Ghana expressed its support for the ICC and the global fight for justice.

Our global Coalition has a long running campaign urging states to join the ICC and enact related national legislation.

 

Moroccans rally against al-Bashir visit

A number of civil society actors, academics and media personalities in Morocco have joined a petition calling for the government to rescind its invitation to Sudanese president and ICC suspect Omar al-Bashir to visit the country. 

The petition, addressed to Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani, claimed that the invitation "does not serve the interests of the Moroccan people", citing al-Bashir's ICC charges of crimes against humanity, war crimes and the organization of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

Although not an ICC member state, Sudan became the subject of an ICC investigation when the UN Security Council gave the Court jurisdiction over the situation in Darfur in 2005 . However, recurring non-cooperation with the resulting arrest warrants against al-Bashir has meant that the Sudanese president remains at large - and often free to travel with impunity, including to ICC member states Uganda, Jordan and South Africa.

South Africa's government appeared before the ICC in April 2017 to explain why it did not execute the arrest warrant in 2015, with an ICC panel finding authorities failed in their legal obligation to bring Bashir before the Court. 

Now, the possibility that the Sudanese president will once again be on the move, this time to Morocco, has inspired backlash from many in Morocco, with petitioners pointing to a "crisis of justice, accountability and the rule of law" in the country currently, and demanding that their government "maintain a distance between war criminals and those fleeing international justice."

 

Breaking the bonds of human-trafficking

Sunday 30 July 2017 marked the World Day against Trafficking in Persons, bringing with it a reminder that this crime currently affects millions of women, children and men, and every region of the world, whether in countries of origin, transit, or destination.

With links between conflict, trafficking and migrant-smuggling coming increasingly into focus, the United Nations called for collaborative efforts within the international community to permanently end the scourge.

“Conflict is a breeding ground for criminal activity,” commented Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. “People forced from their homes are falling prey to human traffickers as they try desperately to escape the violence.”

In Libya, with around 20,000 migrants detained, reports of modern-day slave auctions, and thousands traveling out of the country on a passage fraught with crimes ranging from ransom to forced prostitution, the ICC Prosecutor has raised the prospects of accountability for crimes affecting migrants within the context of the Court's UNSC-referred investigation into the situation in the country following popular demonstrations in 2011.

The ICC Prosecutor has stated that her office is “carefully examining the feasibility of opening an investigation into migrant-related crimes in Libya should the Court’s jurisdictional requirements be met."

States and civil society commemorating the Day demonstrated a range of other collaborative efforts against human-trafficking, such as Namibia's work with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM)Ghana's launch of a program to involve the public through information on perpetrator methods; and an appeal from a human rights organization in Burundi to the government to sign a labor agreement with Gulf states to combat the trafficking of Burundian women.

The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, globally adopted in September 2015, set out various goals and targets on trafficking in persons, including an end to trafficking and violence against children; as well as the need for preventative measures.

 

ICC investigations

Kenya: The national High Court has been told that the country is unwilling to prosecute two Kenyans wanted by the ICC for alleged bribery — one of whom has challenged the arrest warrant, claiming a lack of detailed evidence.

Libya: The UN Security Council has welcomed a Joint Declaration between the heads of two rival Libyan camps as an effort to "strengthen an inclusive political dialogue among all Libyans" and bring about national reconciliation and a ceasefire.

CAR: Heightened inter-ethnic tensions and a spate of attacks on civilians and peacekeepers have sparked UN fears that the state could be at "tipping point."

Uganda: A Ugandan NGO is conducting an army training program with the aim of addressing allegations of sexual violence by Uganda People’s Defence Forces members and eliminating exploitation in conflict areas.

Ugandan troops accused of sexual violence in car

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Afghanistan: Panelists at an Institute for War & Peace Reporting debate have claimed that all parties to the Afghan conflict are violating the rules of war, as reports continue of civilians being targeted and used as human shields.

Colombia: ECCHR has joined Human Rights Watch in expressing concerns, in an amicus curiae, that the peace deal will "reinforce and cement the impunity enjoyed by those [...] bearing greatest responsibility for international crimes in Colombia."

Burundi: The national human rights commission has urged the ICC to terminate its preliminary examination into crimes committed during the 2015 crisis, claiming that the country's justice sector has been "reformed".

Iraq: A US-trained Iraqi army division has been accused of summarily executing prisoners in Mosul, while a UK court has blocked an attempt to have Tony Blair face prosecution for his role in the Iraq war, ruling that English law did not provide for a crime of aggression under which the former British PM could be charged.

Why should the ICC investigate war crimes in Iraq?

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The Court can only do so much without the full and effective cooperation of states, including through the universal ratification and implementation of the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the ICC (APIC). Find out about the Coalition's 2017 campaign and why ratifying the APIC matters to you and your government.

Georgia has signed an agreement with the ICC in order to facilitate the Court's mandate in the state and establish clear communication and cooperation channels between the two.

A Bosnian NGO has welcomed a proposed legislation amendment which would prevent war crimes convicts from running for or holding office, stating when they win elections "it is an absolute injustice towards the victims, humankind and justice."

Four former federal judges have been sentenced by an Argentinian court to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed during the country's period of state terrorism from 1976 to 1983.

Representatives of Namibia's Herero and Nama peoples have intensified calls for Germany to recognize its colonial actions in the country as genocide and pay reparations as descendants of the victims struggle with poverty, unemployment and alcoholism.

Following the analysis and recommendations of a group of experts on genocide and international law, the Global Justice Center in New York is campaigning on the systematic sexual abuse of women as a crime of genocide, particularly on the Yazidi women in northern Iraq.

After consulting with various representatives, the Trust Fund for Victims presented to the Court its proposed activities for individual and collective reparations following the order against former Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga.

Katanga case: Local reactions to collective reparations

 

Around the world

Amnesty International has called for ramped up efforts to protect the hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians in South Sudan who have fled hunger and atrocities.

Cambodia has launched a mobile app providing a history of the Khmer Rouge in a bid to ensure that the 1.7 million people killed under the regime are not forgotten.

The UN has denounced attacks against indigenous peoples and human rights defenders in the Philippines, urging the government to take immediate action.

A year after Armenian authorities used excessive force and arbitrary detention against anti-government protestors in Yerevan, Human Rights Watch has warned the government is no closer to delivering accountability and justice.

 

Which #GlobalJustice stories caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comment box below, or tweet us @ngos4justice.