#GlobalJusticeWeekly - Temple destruction in Syria a 'war crime' | Ntaganda ICC trial opened


The Temple of Bel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was considered as one of the most important ancient temple in the Middle East. Satellite images issued earlier this week by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) confirmed the site was destroyed by a powerful blast.

Since ISIS captured Palmyra in May earlier this year, serious concerns were raised regarding the ancient city ruins. These images come just few days after it was confirmed the blast destroyed another temple in the ancient city, the one of Baal Shamin.  This destruction also constituted a “war crime” for UNESCO’s chief and was qualified as “barbaric” by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Ntaganda trial opened in The Hague

The ICC trial of former Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda started on Wednesday 2 September in The Hague.

After the accused pleaded not guilty for all 18 charges against him, the prosecution made its opening statements followed by those of the victims’ representatives and the Defense the following day.

The Coalition for the ICC held a press briefing on the opening day of the trial for journalists attending the hearing to meet with some of the Coalition’s key members. The panel was constituted of Paul Nsapu, Secretary General for Africa of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Ida Sawyer, DRC Researcher at Human Rights Watch and Mariana Pena, Legal Officer for the International Justice programme of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

See pictures from the press briefing

Central African Republic
The Transitional Council has adopted a new Constitution for the country. In the meantime, the Constitutional court has confirmed the exclusion of past members of transitional government from running for office in presidential and parliamentary elections due in October.

A militia group released 163 children from its ranks.

National newspapers claim Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto finds himself lonely in his fight against the ICC. Ruto has said that the Jubilee Government will not be deterred by the developments at the ICC.

Former Kenyan journalist Walter Barasa has opened a second challenge against an ICC arrest warrant issued in connection with bribery allegations involving witnesses in the case against Ruto and broadcaster Joshua Sang. According to The Star, A Kenyan lawyer risks being charged by the ICC for corruptly influencing prosecution witnesses in the case against Ruto.

On the occasion of the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance, George Kegoro of the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya Chapter reflected on the deaths of John Kituyi and Meshack Yebei.

Former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka claimed enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings have been used to silence ICC witnesses.

The FIDH, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies and Human Rights in China wrote an open letter to national and international officials calling them to uphold international justice in light of Sudanese President Al Bashir’s visit to China.

Elise Keppler of HRW argued that China is not complying with its international obligations by welcoming Omar Al Bashir.

HRW, FIDH, Amnesty International (AI) and other NGOs wrote  to the permanent representatives of members and observer States of the UN Human Rights Council regarding the human rights situation in Sudan.

A UN envoy met with representatives of the country's rival parliament based in Tripoli, which is not recognized by the international community.

Hundreds of people, who lost relatives as a result of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda, took part in commemorating the International Day of Victims of Enforced Disappearance..

Preliminary Examinations
Colombia President Santos affirms peace talks have advanced “significantly” while a UN envoy warns Colombia-Venezuela row threatens peace talks.

AI warned excessive and lethal force by security forces must not be repeated during election period in Guinea.

Boko Haram allegedly killed at least 79 persons in a series of attack in Borno state in northern Nigeria.

What else is happening?
South Africa’s parliament rejected investigating President Jacob Zuma for possible impeachment for allowing Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to evade the country in June.

Chadian plaintiffs filed a war crimes complaint against Chad leader Idriss Deby.

HRW issued “Questions & Answers” on the case of Hissène Habré before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal which will resume on 7 September.

ICC President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, participated in the 10th Bled Strategic Forum.

A Canadian academic evaluates how effective the ICC is.

Mark Kersten discusses whether Rwanda President Paul Kagame is threatened by the trial of Bosco Ntaganda before the ICC.

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