#GlobalJustice Weekly: ICC prosecutor calls for al-Bashir arrest | Human rights and end genocide day marked

ICC Prosecutor criticises states who have failed to arrest al-Bashir

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda met with the UN Security Council on Tuesday to present her 26th report on the situation in Darfur, Sudan, which was referred by the body to the Court in 2005.

In the address, Ms. Bensouda urged the Security Council to conduct concrete follow-up action on matters relating to outstanding ICC arrest warrants to demonstrate their commitment to peace and security in Darfur. She brought attention to Member States hosting those wanted by the ICC, including president Omar Al-Bashir. She particularly made reference to Al-Bashir's visit to Uganda in November of this year, and recognised the efforts of Civil Society in requesting the Ugandan High Court to issue and execute an arrest warrant for Al-Bashir. She also referred to Chad, Jordan and expressed regret at the failure to comply with their obligations as an ICC Member State. 

International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime

On the 9 December, the world remembered the victims of genocide on the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and the Prevention of this Crime. This year was a focus on the the success of the Convention’s achievements as well as what is still to be done, particularly in the area of ratification ahead of its 70th Anniversary next year. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for this day that genocide is often “the culmination of years of exclusion, denial of human rights and other wrongs. Since genocide can take place in times of war and in times of peace, we must be ever-vigilant”, and called on states to ratify the Convention by 2018.

The ICC President Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi highlighted the importance of the Genocide Convention in her address at the Event Commemorating the Genocide Convention by marking the development of the crime of genocide since the end of World War II and its role in creating the international criminal tribunals and courts we have today: “As foreseen by the Genocide Convention, there is now a permanent institution of a general kind that may step in to investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of genocide and other international crimes, when the national systems fail to act”.  She also called for universal ratification of the Rome Statute, the lack of which “creates gaps where impunity regrettably continues to flourish, leaving victims without protection and without remedy for the harm suffered”.

At the same event, Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, said that “genocide should not be part of our present or our future. It is not an accident, nor is it inevitable. It is our inaction, or our ineffectiveness in addressing the warning signs, that allows it to become a reality.” He also called for universal ratification of the Genocide Convention, claiming that the crime of genocide “did not start with the Genocide Convention and, unfortunately, it also did not end with it”

International Human Rights Day

This week also saw the celebration of International Human Rights Day, with a year long campaign being commenced on Sunday ahead of next year's 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

UN Secretary General António Guterres in his message recognised that since the proclamation of the declaration, the instrument has helped countless people to gain greater freedom and security, and strengthen national and international human rights laws and safeguards. However he also cautioned that the principles of the declaration are being still being tested, citing hostility towards human rights and defenders by people who wish to profit from exploitation and division.

UN commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein acknowledged the improvement in the lives of millions since the adoption of the Declaration, and suggested the year leading up the it’s 70th anniversary should be one of “intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance” of the Declaration. He also brought attention to the alarming threats that it is facing “on many fronts” and called on the need to "organize and mobilize in defence of human decency, in defence of a common future [...] by resolutely supporting the human rights of others, we also stand up for our own rights and those of generations to come”

Human Rights Watch joined the commemoration by turning 24 landmarks around the world blue in honor of the day, while Amnesty International ran their annual Write For Rights event to mark the day.

 

ICC investigations:

Burundi: The president has launched a campaign to make constitutional amendments that could extend his rule. The opposition has warned that attempts to change the constitution could lead to more bloodshed.  

South Sudan: With the conflict in South Sudan entering its fifth year, senior UN official has expressed concern about the precarious security situation and bleak humanitarian conditions in the world’s youngest country and urged the Security Council to remain vigilant and exert more effort to condemn and stop the violnce, protect civilians, and urgently facilitate a political settlement of the conflict.

DRC: United Nations food relief agency has warned that an acute hunger emergency ravaging DRC’s strife-torn Greater Kasai region could transform into a long-term disaster if additional resources are not made available urgently.

As civilians suffer alarming attacks in eastern Congo, Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group have presented the new Kivu Security Tracker to map violence by armed groups and Congolese security forces.

At least 14 UN ‘blue helmets’ were killed on Friday, and more injured, in what the Secretary General described as the “worst attack” on UN peacekeepers mission in recent history. Calling on the DRC authorities to investigate the incident and bring perpetrators to justice, Secretary-General described the attack as a war crime.

Côte d’Ivoire: Government spokesman has announced the country’s intention to cut its armed forces by about 1,000 troops by the end of the year in a bid to rationalize a costly and sometimes unruly military.

The hearings in the trial of Laurent Gbango and Charles Blè Goudé have been suspended until next January. The proceedings will continue on January 17, when hearing will be devoted to the beginning of the testimony of Fatou Bensouda’s final witness.

Libya: Libyan electoral officials have announced the opening of a two-month voter registration period, through it is unclear when elections will next be held in the divided nation.

Preliminary investigations:

Colombia: The United States is considering to revoke the visa of the general Juan Pablo Rodrigez. According to the ICC, Rodrigez must be investigated over claims he took part in murdering civilians while commanding the 4th Brigade in Medellin.

Ukraine: Russia does not intend to react to the report of the ICC Prosecutor about the participation of Russian troops in the fighting against Ukraine. As the country does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC, they believe there are no facts from the report to challenge.

Palestine/Israel: The emergency meeting was called after US President recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday and said he would start the process of moving its embassy there. Trump’s decision has caused anger and prompted protests throughout the occupied Palestinian territories, and drawn international condemnation as well as protests at Israeli embassies across the world.

The protests occur as new accusations are reported of abductions of Palestinian men, women, and children under false pretexts (or no charges at all) by Israel, using sham legal proceedings to enforce prolonged, illegal, detentions. 

Nigeria: Amnesty International have appealed to the Nigerian authorities to ensure justice, truth and reparation over the military’s unlawful killing of more than 350 Shi’a Muslims in the northern city of Zaria in December 2015. 

Fight for Global Justice:

Human Rights Watch are calling for the release or charging of a human rights defender who has been detained by Burundian authorities since November 21st 2017.  The police have accused him, via twitter, of “threatening state security.”

Eleven Congolese militia members, were convicted of crimes against humanity for murder and the rape of 37 young children in a landmark ruling in Kavumu. It is the first time that a sitting government official in the Congo was found guilty of superior responsibility for crimes he and his militia, whom he controlled and financed, committed. 

Amnesty International has released a report on the plight of refugees and migrants in Libya's prisons and detention centres. 

UK-based campaign group Human Rights for Yemen have called on Attorney General Jeremy Wright to prosecute Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar for committing ‘war crimes’ in Yemen.

The eight round of Syria peace talk negotiations began last week, with the United States and France calling on Russia to deliver the delegation of President al-Assad after discussions on ending the six-year war was resumed with no sign of the government attending. Russia has been urged by the Syrian opposition to salvage the peace talks by persuading the Syrian government delegation finally to begin direct face-to-face discussions

Amnesty International’s report has exposed from torture in police custody to killings of protestors in Burkina Faso, which still has a long way to go in tackling impunity.

Around the world:

A New Report, authoredby the International Bar Association (IBA) War Crimes Committee, calls on the international community to vest in the ICC or a special international tribunal the power to investigate crimes against humanity committed in North Korea. 

The OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina marked the successful completion of the War Crimes Capacity Building Project at a ceremony in Sarajevo on Tuesday. The project was a part of the OSCE Mission’s long-standing support to the development of the judiciary and its capacity to process war crimes cases

A range of local, regional and international human rights advocacy organizations in South Africa have criticised Justice Minister Michael Masutha’s announcement at the ASP that he would soon submit an intention to withdraw from the ICC to Parliament. Jacob van Garderen, Director for Lawyers for Human Rights believes there is the added danger of impunity gap should SA pull out of the ICC without putting in place any other mechanisms to ensure accountability for international crimes.

Param-Preet Singh, an official of the Human Rights Watch, has described Harry Roque’s speech before the International Criminal Court as “grotesquely deceptive” and belied his claims of administration investigating alleged abuses by state authorities in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations. Amnesty International have followed HRW’s statement by noting country’s judiciary and police as unwilling and unable to hold the killers in the ‘war on drugs’ to account.

Uganda has welcomed the election of its judge to serve at the ICC as it is a vote of confidence in the Ugandan judiciary and a recognition of the professionalism and role in ICC and international law in general.

Mayor of the disputed town of Khurmatu in Kurdistan claims the abuses committed in Khurmatu may constitute a war crime, and called on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Iraqi Government and international NGOs to deliver humanitarian assistance to the town’s displaced people.