#GlobalJustice Weekly: Six new ICC judges | Will Crime of Aggression be activated? | ICC preliminary examinations update 2017

Assembly of States Parties 2017 - Updates from the Assembly

Six new ICC judges elected

The 16th session of the Assembly of States Parties commenced this week with the election of six new judges candidates to the ICC bench. Ms.Tomoko Akane (Japan) and Ms. Luz del Carmen Ibánez Carranza (Peru) were the first judges elected on day one after the first round of voting, having each been marked on the ballots of over 2/3 of the member states present and voting. Following the first round, states were left with a minimum voting requirement (MVR) for three female candidates, one candidate from Africa and one 'List B' candidate. Day two saw three more new judges elected, Ms. Reine Alapini-Gansou (Benin) and Ms. Solomy Balungi Bossa (Uganda) and Ms. Kimberly Prost (Canada). During the voting on day two, the ICC Vice-President highlighted that for the first time in electing ICC judges, all 123 ASP member states had cast valid ballots, since the DRC, Venezuela and Vanatu had recieved special exceptions to vote despite being in arrears. On day three, with one place to fill on the ICC bench,  Mr. Rosario Salvatore Aitala (Italy) was elected.

Meet the new ICC judges

 

ASP16 General Debate kicks off

After the elections were wrapped up, the General Debate commenced at the third plenary meeting. An encouraging number of high-level government representatives took to the floor to present their states' positions on various issues within the ICC system. Sweden, FinlandGermany and Mali announced contributions to the Trust Fund for Victims. NGOs will take the floor on Friday.

ASP 2017 DAILY Summaries

 

The Crime of Aggression - Will it be activated at ASP 2017? 

Another major topic up for discussion at the 16th ASP session is the activation of the Court’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression. Discussions among ICC member states are ongoing and expected to last into next week. 

The decision on the activation of jurisdiction is expected to be taken by consensus. In such circumstances, there is a possibility that any member state can veto the decision of the majority. As Donald M. Ferencz explains: "with time running out, this tactic of delay gives unwilling states a distinct advantage: they need only do nothing until time runs out".

Various states commented during the general debate. The Minister of Justice of Belgium called for the simple activation of the crime and Deputy Minister of Justice of Georgia highlighted the importance of the crime's entry into force. The Dutch Permanent Representative to the ICC pointed to the chance of the Assembly to write history if the activation is successful. 

 

ICC Prosecutor releases preliminary examination report 2017

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda published her annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2017), providing an overview of her Office's preliminary examination activities conducted between 1 October 2016 and 30 November 2017 in relation to ten situations under consideration for possible investigation.

Media coverage has touched upon the accouncement on Iraq/UK, in which the ICC Prosecutor has said there is a "reasonable basis" to believe that UK soldiers committed war crimes against detainees during the Iraq conflict. The UK government claims there are "no grounds" to these allegations. Also, in the Palestine section, it is reported that the prosecution has “made significant progress in its assessment” to determine “whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation” into alleged war crimes committed by Israeli forces in Palestine. 

Read the full report

 

Commemorative Event in New York after ICTY final judgement 

In the lead-up to the ICTY’s formal closure at the end of this month, a commemorative event took place on Monday in the Trusteeship Council at United Nations Headquarters in New York. At “ICTY Commemoration: Reflections on 24 Years of Fighting Impunity Through International Court and Tribunals",  reflections were made on the contributions of the Tribunal to the development of international criminal law. Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, Mr Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, delivered a Keynote Speech in which he outlined lessons to be learned from the ICTY experience, and stressed that cooperation between organs of the UN was "instrumental" for the operation of the Tribunal and for the development of contempory international criminal justice. 

ICTY President Carmel Agius attributed the success of the Tribunal to the "people who breathe life, purpose and meaning into the organisation, the people entrusted to carry ourt its mission"  while ICTY and MICT Prosecutor Serge Brammertz claimed that the completion of the Tribunal's mandate marks a beginning for the countries of the former Yugoslavia to build the rule of law and demonstrate they can secure meaningful justice for the victims of serious crimes during the conflicts. On the 5th December, Judge Agius made a final address to the UN Security Council where he recalled the courts defining moments, and hoped that the international community would now look at the mass crimes continuing to take place, and see the political courage that sparked the ICTY’s existence as motivation to stay on course in spite of the geopolitical roadblocks that stand in the way of justice. 

The comments comes following a dramatic final judgement at the ICTY, where a former Croatian general died after swallowing a liquid shortly after his sentence of 20 years was upheld. An autopsy report showed that Slobodan Praljak had cyanide in his system at the time of his death. The report came after Croatia's justice minister raised doubts about whether security and medical staff at the tribunal responded quickly enough. 

Human Rights Watch has commented on the need for continuing justice in the aftermath of the ICTY closure, and has called on governments in the Balkans region to make war crimes prosecutions a political priority, noting that unless efforts are redoubled to bring those responsible for wartime crimes to justice and to establish an independent commission to unravel the truth about the region’s bloody past, there is a danger that history will repeat itself. 

ICC investigations

Libya: The United Nations migration agency plans to fly 15,000 more migrants home from detention centers in Libya before year-end in the wake of shocking reports of rampant migrant abuse. 

CAR: According to the UN agriculture agency, over 1,000 ex-fighters have traded their weapons for farming equipment, as part of a United Nations initiative aiming for an import step towards reaching peace and restoring hope, while UNSG condemns the killing of one MINUSCA peacekeeper and the wounding of three others by anti-Balaka militia in the east. 

DRC: Amnesty International have called for an investigation in heavy-handed police crackdown on protests in which one man was shot dead and dozens more injured. Police also arbitrarily arrested more than 200 protesters in cities across the country. While many were released later in the day, at least 100 remain in detention.

South Sudan: Following the arrest of Darfur's militia chief Musa Hilal, analysts say it might open a new chapter of violence as Khartoum has tightened its control over country's strife-torn region.

Mali: A UN expert has reported that the human rights situation in northern and central Mali is causing growing concern, as the country's security situation deteriorates and attends rise alarmingly.
 

Preliminary examinations

Nigeria: Nigeria's government have revealed a plan for one of the regions most affected by Boko Haram, in which displaced people will be housed in fortified garrison towns. The announcement comes as the Nigerian Senate reveals plans to launch an investigation into alleged acts of brutality by a specialist unit of the police.

Greece and Cambodia: On Thursday, ICC Prosecutor reaffirmed her previous decision of 6 November 2014 to close the preliminary examination in the Situation on registered vessels of the Union of Comoros, the Hellenic Republic of Greece, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. The decision, which had been filed with Pre -Trial Chamber I, is final.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

As the fight against sexual and gender-based violence gains prominence, ministers and policy makers from 12 countries in the Great Lakes region are meeting in Kampala where they emphasized the establishment of special courts as an instrument to help tackle before mentioned crimes.

Amnesty International have called on the ICC to open a preliminary examination into alleged crimes against humanity, including the slaughter of dozens of children, committed during the Philippine “war on drugs”. While commenting on the news that President Duterte has ordered the police to resume their role in supporting his violent anti-drug campaign, Amnesty said the President has consigned the poorest and most marginalised people in the Philippines to another catastrophic wave of violence, misery and bloodshed.

Human Rights Watch have announced that 23 landmarks accross the globe will shine bright blue on December 10, 2017 to celebrate Human Rights Day.  
 

Around the world

Human Rights Watch have reported that the Iraqi government and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are conducting thousands of trials of Islamic State suspects without a strategy to prioritize the worst abuses under Iraqi and international law.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that the upsurge in deadly violence in recent days in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, has once again highlighted the horrific impact on civilians of the country’s brutal war. The comments were made as the Commissioner announced the appointment of the members of Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen established by the Human Rights Council.

US President Donald Trump has recognised Jerusalem as the Israeli captial, a move which leaders have warned may threaten the Middle East peace process.