ICC Prosecutor in Colombia | Rights protection in Venezuela

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in talks with the Colombian President and Prosecutor General, among other government officials © ICC-CPI
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ICC prosecutor in Colombia to discuss justice

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda this week travelled to Colombia, heading a delegation from the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), to hold discussions with the president, as well as with NGOs, on the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and national proceedings relating to extrajudicial killings of civilians known as 'false positives', sexual and gender-based crimes and forced displacement.

Allegations of atrocity crimes committed by both government and paramilitary groups led the OTP to open a preliminary examination in 2004.

The OTP delegation met with the Colombian President Santos on Monday to discuss a peace deal signed between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP). With the implementation of the historic peace agreement entering a decisive stage, the ICC Prosecutor stated that the determination of Colombia's courts "to ensure genuine accountability for the most serious crimes and respect for the rights of victims will be essential to overcome the challenges in implementing the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Non-Repetition called for by the peace agreement." 

The Prosecutor aslo said: "I am very grateful to representatives of Colombian civil society organisations for engaging with me during this visit. I have listened carefully to their views and concerns, which will continue to inform my assessment of the situation."

Meanwhile, the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Colombian government recently agreed a temporary bilateral cease-fire, described by Amnesty International as a historic step forward in efforts towards a just and sustainable peace in Colombia. The organization has previously documented how armed confrontations between the ELN, paramilitary groups and state forces in the department of Chocó in west Colombia have caused a deterioration in the humanitarian situation of the Wounaan and Embera Indigenous people since the signing of the peace accord in November 2016.

Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said: "It is imperative that all parties to the conflict end attacks on civilians and other crimes under international law and that the parties prioritise human rights and accountability during peace negotiations." 

ICC Colombia preliminary examination

 

Venezuela: Address alleged abuses

Humans rights groups from around the world have issued a statement calling for the United Nations (UN) to address Venezuela’s deepening human rights and humanitarian crisis during the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in September. They have also urged a European Union effort to advance pressure on the Venezuelan government to address the current humanitarian crisis. 

Human Rights Watch addressed Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, stating: "We urge you to place Venezuela on the agenda of the upcoming Foreign Affairs Council and increase urgently needed pressure on the Maduro administration to end the repression, release all political prisoners, set a date for free and fair elections with proper independent oversight, restore judicial independence and the powers of the National Assembly, and immediately allow sufficient international humanitarian aid into the country."

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has announced it has decided to prepare a third report on the human rights situation in Venezuela, following a comprehensive evaluation of the general human rights situation and the grave political and social crisis, in addition to requests from civil society. 

This follows Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein's statement of the possibility that crimes against humanity may have been committed. "There is a very real danger that tensions will further escalate, with the government crushing democratic institutions and critical voices," he warned.

Venezuela crisis: The background

 

UN Security Council expresses deep concern over Rohinga crisis

In its first resolution on Myanmar in nine years, the UN Security Council has expressed concern over violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state from where thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh, asking the government to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation and re-establish law and order. An estimated 380,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees have fled Myanmar and reached Bangladesh after a crackdown by Myanmarese security forces.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the situation best described as ethnic cleansing.

“When one-third of the Rohingya population had to flee the country, could you find a better word to describe it?” he told a news conference.

“I call on the Myanmar authorities to suspend military action, end the violence, uphold the rule of law, and recognize the right of return of all those who had to leave the country,” said Guterres, adding that he had spoken several times with Myanmar’s national leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Global concern for Rohingya

 

ICC investigations 

Libya: Fatou Bensouda has reiterated her appeal to the Libyan National Army to hand over ICC suspect Mahmoud al-Werfalli, expressing concern at allegations that the suspect has committed additional crimes since the warrant was issued.

Kenya: Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the electoral commission, has appointed six people to oversee the repeat election that is scheduled for 17 October.

Kenya: Ensure a peaceful electoral process

 

Preliminary examinations 

Burundi: The government has rejected a recent Commission of Inquiry report, in which the ICC was called on to investigate potential crimes against humanity in the country, as "biased".

UN Commission to ICC: Likely crimes against humanity in Burundi

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The Coalition in partnership with the Malian National Coalition held an awareness-raising and training workshop on the provisions of the Rome Statute to civil society actors in Mali on 9 September. It aimed to increase knowledge on the Rome Statute and civil society actors in Mali working in the field of international justice. 

The ICC has been awarded the 2017 annual Stockholm Human Rights Award for its contribution to the advancement of international justice and respect for human rights. An official ceremony will be held on 20 November 2017.

Following his report on the responsibility to protect, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the need for more concrete action and better prevention steps to address increased atrocity crimes.

ICC President Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi meanwhile addressed the Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa, where she called for enhanced support for the Court in the region and the strengthening of the rule of law in order to ensure peace. 

ICC at 15: A reflection from the ICC President 

In a discussion with the Africa Group for Justice and Accountability, UN ambassador Christian Wenaweser called for an "internationally-binding" definition of the crime of aggression and spoke of the historic step that Member States will be able to take in December 2017 to activate the Court's jurisdiction over the crime. Watch below:

 

Around the world

Saudi Arabia and the United States have opposed a proposal forwarded to establish an independent international inquiry into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Yemen. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who has long supported an independent international inquiry, says Yemen's National Commission is not capable of carrying out the task. Zeid said the coalition had shown "minimal efforts made towards accountability." China, along with many other countries, has backed the proposal put forward by the Netherlands and Canada. 

On Tuesday in the High Court in Montenegro, Vlado Zmajevic will stand trial for war crimes against the civilian population in Kosovo. Zmajevic is allegedly guilty of killing four Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999.