Posts tagged "Icc"
Posted by alejandro on 16 05 2011 | Leave a comment
Libya Press Conference
16 May 2011
Less than three months ago the UN Security Council unanimously required the intervention of our Office to conduct an impartial investigation into the crimes committed in Libya. Today, the Office presented its evidence to the judges and is requesting the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants
The evidence shows that Muammar Gaddafi, personally, ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians. His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in the public space, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after the prayers.
The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing, as I speak today, in the areas under Gaddafi control. Gaddafi’s forces prepare lists with names of alleged dissidents. They are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear.
Most of the victims are Libyans, but the widespread and systematic attacks affect the international community as a whole. The crimes are crimes against humanity. That is why the Arab League and the African Union were concerned and the Security Council intervened. Further, the Arab people in different regions of the world are playing a key role in exposing the crimes. The fear is not paralyzing them.
Muammar Gaddafi committed the crimes with the goal of preserving his absolute authority. He has absolute authority in accordance with Libyan law. His orders are binding even for the Congress. It is a crime to challenge his authority. He used his authority to commit the crimes.
The Office gathered direct evidence about orders issued by Muammar Gaddafi himself. The evidence shows that Gaddafi relies on his inner circle to implement a systematic policy of suppressing any challenge to his authority. His second eldest son, Saif Al Islam, is acting as a de facto prime minister and Al-Sanousi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man, the Head of the Military Intelligence and personally commanded some attacks. The Office documented how the three held meetings to plan and direct the operations.
Based on the evidence collected, the Prosecution has applied to Pre-Trial Chamber I for the issuance of arrests warrants against Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Sanousi.
The case is now before the judges. They can accept the request, reject it or ask for more evidence.
In the meantime, the Office of the Prosecutor will continue its investigations: we will further investigate first, the allegations of rapes committed in Libya. Second, the allegations of attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries. Third, the allegations of war crimes committed by different parties during the armed conflict that started towards the end of February.
The Office is liaising with the International Commission of Inquiry created by the UN Human Rights Council which will present its report to the Council at the beginning of June. There will be no impunity in Libya.
My Office has not requested the intervention of international forces to implement the arrest warrants. Should the Court issue them and the three individuals remain in Libya, Libyan authorities have the primary responsibility to arrest them. Libya is a member of the United Nations and it has the duty to abide by Security Council Resolution 1970. Libyans will lead.
When the time comes, implementing the arrest warrants will be the most effective way to protect civilians under attack in Libya and elsewhere. As in any other criminal case, the execution of the warrants will have a deterrent impact for other leaders who are thinking of using violence to gain or retain power.
Posted by JEFFREY GETTLEMAN and MARLISE SIMONS on 15 12 2010 | Leave a comment
LAMU, Kenya — The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is seeking to indict several high-ranking Kenyan politicians, including the finance minister and a former national police chief, for crimes against humanity in what he calls an orchestrated campaign to displace, torture, persecute and kill civilians during Kenya’s election crisis in 2007 and early 2008.
These are the first serious charges sought against Kenya’s political elite for the violence, and are intended to address one of Africa’s glaring weak spots — disputed elections — which have led to turmoil in Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria and, most recently, Ivory Coast.
“This is a different kind of case,” Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the court’s chief prosecutor, said of the accusations, which are scheduled to be announced Wednesday. “This isn’t about militias. It’s about politicians and political parties. It’s about investigating leadership.”
And, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo added, “this isn’t just about justice. For Kenya, this is survival.”
Among the top six politicians named are Uhuru Kenyatta, finance minister and son of Kenya’s founding leader, Jomo Kenyatta; Mohammed Hussein Ali, the former police chief, who stands accused of unleashing police officers to shoot unarmed demonstrators; and William Ruto, arguably Kenya’s most divisive political figure, widely accused of instigating violence but revered as a hero within his ethnic community, the Kalenjin. Some of the worst episodes of violence, including the burning of a church with dozens of women and children inside, occurred in predominantly Kalenjin areas.
The case follows an international effort to help pull Kenya back from the brink of chaos after the disputed election in December 2007 set off widespread protests and ethnically fueled fighting, which swept the country and killed more than 1,000 people.
“Finally, we have our day,” said Maina Kiai, a former Kenyan human rights official. “This is the first time we have high-ranking people facing the law where they have no control and they can’t bribe their way out of it.”
Mr. Kiai and many others say Kenya has had a dangerous habit of whitewashing sensitive investigations, often setting up high-level commissions but never punishing the culprits. This record of impunity has led to mass killings around previous elections as well, and many Kenyans fear that the next election, in 2012, could be worse if the ringleaders of 2007 go free. Others worry that prosecutions will inflame tensions instead.
The case brings the court into some uncharted territory. All of its previous cases have focused on militias and war zones, and this is the first time that Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has stepped in on his own initiative, without a request from the home country or by the United Nations Security Council.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has been criticized for solely prosecuting Africans and for being overzealous, particularly in his dogged pursuit of genocide charges against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan. The effort to arrest Mr. Bashir has proved very difficult and alienated some African countries.
This time, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo plans to ask the judges at The Hague to issue a summons, not an arrest warrant. That would allow the accused to turn themselves in and spare Kenya, at least initially, the awkwardness of having to hand over its political elite. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has also implicated leaders from both sides, the government and the opposition, a decision many Kenyan observers say could be crucial in influencing what happens next — peace or more bloodshed.
“If the I.C.C. is seen as having done a balanced job,” said John Githongo, a former anticorruption official who was forced into exile and recently returned to Kenya, “then it will be more difficult for the elite to mobilize people violently against it.”
But, Mr. Githongo added, “Kenya is now a volatile country. The politics are bubbling. A lot of change is happening at the same time. Anything is possible.”
In recent days, Kenyan police commanders have put their forces on high alert in anticipation of Mr. Moreno-Ocampo’s announcement. But officers were given explicit orders to use restraint, especially with live bullets. Many Kenyans expect Mr. Ruto’s supporters in the turbulent Rift Valley to be the most upset.
The case is expected to face legal hurdles as well. The prosecutor is seeking to charge all six men with crimes against humanity. But several international-law experts and a judge at the court have questioned whether the violence of 2007, while serious, fits that definition.
“The question is not whether the crimes have happened,” wrote Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, one of three judges who reviewed the prosecutor’s investigation. “The issue is whether the I.C.C. is the right forum before which to investigate and prosecute these crimes.”
It was not, Judge Kaul concluded. The two other judges disagreed, allowing the investigation to proceed. But experts said the question of the court’s jurisdiction would linger.
After the disputed election, Kenya’s leaders vowed to pass a new constitution; set up a local tribunal to prosecute the election killings; and undertake land reform, police reform and a number of other ambitious reforms whose urgency was exposed by the election turmoil.
Kenya’s political class accomplished some of these tasks, including the peaceful passage of a new constitution in August that devolves power and establishes a bill of rights. But efforts to set up a local tribunal were typically blocked by the very politicians who were implicated. Now some Kenyan politicians, including several of those named in the charges, are trying to resuscitate the idea.
According to Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, the evidence predates the disputed election in December 2007, in which Kenya’s incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner, despite mounting evidence that the real winner was Raila Odinga, an opposition politician who is now prime minister.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo says Mr. Ruto (who used to be a minister but was suspended recently because of corruption accusations); Henry Kosgey, the minister of industrialization; and Joshua arap Sang, a radio broadcaster — all well-known opposition figures — began planning a year before the election to attack supporters of the governing party. After Mr. Kibaki was declared the winner, prosecutors say, the network they cultivated burned homes, killed civilians who had supported Mr. Kibaki and systematically drove people off their land.
In response, prosecutors say, Mr. Kenyatta, Mr. Ali and Francis Muthaura, the head of the civil service, “developed and executed a plan” for “suppressing and crushing” opposition protests and keeping the governing party in power.
The police were sent to opposition strongholds “where they used excessive force against civilian protesters,” and Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Muthaura deputized one of Kenya’s most brutal street gangs, the Mungiki, to “organize retaliatory attacks against civilian” opposition supporters, the prosecutor contends.
But many observers say evidence from the earliest days of the crisis implied that some of the killings were spontaneous expressions of rage, not centrally organized, and that the organized violence was planned at local levels, by chiefs and elders, not necessarily by top politicians.
The suspects have denied any wrongdoing. Mr. Ruto has called the evidence “cooked up.” He has said that witnesses have been bribed and that the case “will in the end amount to fraud.”
Mr. Kenyatta said in October that he was “not concerned personally by the I.C.C. warrants” and that “once due process has taken place, the truth eventually will come through.”
Neither of the two political protagonists whose rivalry set off the violence, the president and the prime minister, are implicated in the case. Many experts believe this is one reason that Kenya will ultimately cooperate.
“The Kenyan government is not Zimbabwe,” said Mr. Kiai, the former human rights official, referring to Zimbabwe’s antagonistic relations with the United Nations and the West. “International acceptance is important to Kenya.”
Jeffrey Gettleman reported from Lamu, and Marlise Simons from Paris.
source: The New York Times
Posted by BERNARD NAMUNANE AND ERIC SHIMOLI on 26 11 2010 | Leave a comment
Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court prosecutor, will ask judges to be allowed to present his case in open court, meaning that chaos suspects and the case against them could be unmasked before year-end.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo is expected to go before judges on December 15 to ask them to indict prominent personalities for their alleged role in the post - poll violence.
Before that, a meeting of ICC member countries ICC is to be held in Nairobi next week as The Hague’s investigations draw to a close.
Another high-profile meeting led by chief mediator Kofi Annan will be held in the city as well, as the ICC begins the process of deciding whether to try post-election violence suspects.
He had wanted to present the case in private to avoid hurting the individuals whom he wanted indicted.
However, given the circumstances surrounding witnesses and leakage of a confidential letter from the ICC, it is understood he will go for open submissions so that individuals accused of involvement are known.
This, said sources familiar with ICC work, was to ensure the public and civil society put pressure on the government to hand over the suspects once the arrest warrants are issued.
Mr Moreno-Ocampo secured the court’s decision to start investigations in the Kenya case after Parliament failed to vote for setting up of a local tribunal to try the suspects.
He has said he would present two cases against “four to six” suspects. Though his office has not confirmed the dates, most court watchers believe it will be in mid-December.
The State Parties grouping is the ICC’s top decision making organ and brings together all the 114 nations which have signed the Rome treaty.
Its meeting next Wednesday will discuss ICC’s role and the need for countries that have ratified it to cooperate. A day after, the Panel of Eminent African Personalities chaired by Mr Annan, a former UN secretary-general, will sit for two days assessing the coalition government’s record nearly three years after it was formed to end the blood-letting that followed the disputed December 2007 presidential election results.
Last year, the ICC was represented at the first assessment meeting in Geneva, Switzerland by Ms Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen, then head of the Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division.
Sources said one of the issues that will be handled by both meetings would the progress in the investigations of the politicians, civil servants and businesspeople suspected of planning and financing the chaos and the need to have them take responsibility for their roles.
Last week, via a video recording, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he was tying up two cases of suspects who will be drawn from both the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). The prosecution of the cases, he said, will ensure that poll-related violence will not occur again in future.
“We’ll prove that some leaders from both parties, both sides, were abusing the loyalty of their communities to attack others,” he said.
In the video shot on Monday and played to journalists attending a two week course on covering the ICC yesterday, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he has a case against six individuals, two of whom are said to be senior civil servants, considered as the most responsible individuals from both sides of the coalition government for the post-election violence.
“For the last months we were collecting evidence to present the case before the judges who will review our application and decide,” he said.
“The crimes committed were serious,” the prosecutor said. “They were not just crimes against one community or Kenya; but crimes against humanity and justice has to be done.”
Before coming to demonstrate to the government and the public the international expectations that the suspects must be punished, the ICC team will head to New York this week to meet UN officials and to explain the next steps they will take regarding the Kenyan case, sources said.
The ICC and Mr Annan have voiced concern at the way the investigations have been handled especially intimidation and witness bribery claims.
source: Daily Nation
Posted by MARLISE SIMONS on 22 11 2010 | Leave a comment
THE HAGUE — The International Criminal Court has all the trappings of a weighty institution: 18 judges, a large corps of prosecutors, a multimillion-dollar budget and its own prison cells. But the court is facing mounting criticism over the handling of its first case, which may be coming apart after more than four years.
Even longtime supporters of the court, established in The Hague to deal with large-scale atrocities, say they are frustrated by what many call the unacceptably slow pace and numerous missteps that have dragged out the trial, in which Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese militia leader, faces charges of committing war crimes by conscripting children.
Judges have twice ended proceedings and ordered Mr. Lubanga’s release, because, they said, the prosecution erred in dealing with evidence and refused to carry out their “unequivocal orders,” making a fair trial impossible.
Both times, appeals judges ordered the trial resumed and errors redressed. But tensions over a range of issues between the prosecution and the judges continue.
Now, deep into the trial, the defense has produced new evidence that may undermine the entire case, namely claims by several witnesses that Congolese researchers for the prosecution enlisted some witnesses to fabricate evidence.
“The whole trial has been a nightmare since the disputes between judges and the prosecutor began in 2008,” said William A. Schabas, who teaches human rights law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and follows the court. Relations between the bench and the prosecution have become “ugly and unhealthy,” he said. “There appears almost a breakdown between the two sides.”
Mr. Lubanga, 49, a onetime psychology student, has sat through the proceedings variously wearing a dark suit or African robes, looking somber and impassive, sometimes staring at witnesses. He was sent to The Hague in 2006 by Congolese authorities who had imprisoned several militia leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s complex wars — involving years of protracted fighting fueled by ethnic strife and rivalries for power and mineral riches. Mr. Lubanga’s group, the Union of Congolese Patriots, was among the militias accused of massacring civilians in 2002 and 2003.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Lubanga was accountable for the enlisting, often by force, of several thousand boys and girls, some as young as 8, who were drugged and trained to kill, steal or mutilate civilians, and in the case of girls, to provide sex to militiamen. The prosecution presented video of Mr. Lubanga visiting militia camps in the presence of child soldiers.
The defense maintains that Mr. Lubanga was only a political leader who did no military recruiting and instead tried to demobilize children fighting in his group. It argues that he is a scapegoat for more senior leaders, some now part of Congo’s military or the government.
At the start of the trial, which was postponed numerous times, the chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, presented it as a signature case that would show the world the atrocious plight of child soldiers and their destroyed lives.
The United Nations has estimated that child soldiers — defined as younger than 15 — fight in at least a dozen armed conflicts around the world.
But public knowledge of the trial, even among victims’ groups trying to follow it in Congo, has been limited by the mix of legal wrangling and the secrecy of the proceedings.
Many witnesses, including 10 presented as former child soldiers, have testified behind closed doors, either to protect their privacy or because they feared reprisals at home. Lawyers have also asked to close sessions to the public because they fear witnesses may inadvertently divulge confidential material.
“It’s still not clear to me if this is a strong case, if all this time and effort was worthwhile,” said Lorraine Smith, a lawyer monitoring the trial for the International Bar Association. “The substance of the case got lost in the procedural tangle; even the record is not clear because transcripts are missing or blacked out.”
Some chilling details have come out in the trial. One witness broke down in court when he talked of the moment when the militia killed his mother while he and his siblings hid under the bed. Another, a former girl soldier, told the court that she was abducted by the militia at age 13, and taken to a training camp.
She said recruits were shaved with broken glass and “some of us were wounded.” Training began at 4 a.m., boys and girls were often whipped for the slightest mistake and girls had to sleep with the commanders, she said.
Victims, who have been allowed to join the case as “civil parties,” an innovation at the court, have protested that the prosecution has produced a narrow indictment of Mr. Lubanga, focusing on one charge and omitting the killing and the sexual violence of his group.
“Congo has among the highest sexual violence in the world — it’s unfathomable that they brought no such charges,” said Bridgid Inder of the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, one of the rights groups following the trial. She said that from the start, her group had brought large-scale rape in military camps and villages to the attention of the investigators but that it was ignored.
“This was the chance to address the constant raping of the girl soldiers,” she said.
The panel of three international judges has heard regularly about rape from witnesses for both the defense and the prosecution. But defense lawyers stopped further questioning about it, saying it was not part of the charges against Mr. Lubanga.
Fatou Bensouda, the court’s deputy prosecutor, said in an interview that the trial intended to focus on child conscription as a whole, because it was a serious problem in many places. Mr. Lubanga was charged with child conscription, she said, “because that is where we had the best evidence at the time.”
Lawyers in The Hague say they are puzzled that the first trial, dealing with a single issue, has taken so long. They point to more than a decade of experience in international tribunals dealing with Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia.
“Instead of learning of their mistakes or adopting their best practices, this court has tried to reinvent the wheel,” said Ms. Smith, of the International Bar Association.
The most serious errors in the eyes of the judges is that investigators for the prosecution collected evidence from United Nations staff members and rights groups in Congo and gave assurances that they would not disclose the identities of the sources. While the prosecution tried to insert much of that anonymous evidence in its case, the rules dictate that such material can be used only if its sources are disclosed to the judges and the defense.
“Those investigators have now left, but we’ve spent three years undoing the damage and getting permission from sources,” said one prosecution official.
Another problem arose because investigators had worked with outside intermediaries in Congo who served as local contacts and introduced possible witnesses. Prosecutors said such people were indispensable in a place where they have no office and are not familiar with the territory and the culture. But judges were furious when prosecutors refused orders to provide the names of some intermediaries because they had to be moved first to a safer place.
Some lawyers following the trial believe that the court may expedite the pace now that a second trial was started this year and a third trial was to begin on Monday.
The optimistic view is that the pitfalls of the first trial will serve to strengthen the institution.
Tracey Gurd, senior advocacy officer for the Open Society Justice Initiative, a legal rights advocacy group, said in an appraisal of the case last January that the court’s effort to protect Mr. Lubanga’s rights had “helped build confidence that the I.C.C. is an institution determined to be fair.”
But the outcome of the Lubanga trial is still uncertain. Later this month, the defense will rest its case, and Catherine Mabille, the lead lawyer, has said that she would ask the court to dismiss the case.
source: The New York Times
Posted by Opheera McDoom on 10 11 2010 | Leave a comment
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan’s security service accused staff at a radio station which focuses on Darfur of working for rebels in the region and for the International Criminal Court, which is seeking the arrest of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
Reports in state media on Saturday marked the first official confirmation of a crackdown on the Netherlands-registered Radio Dabanga, whose Khartoum office was raided last week.
“Radio Dabanga was working against Sudan, focused on inciting hatred among the people and aborting the peace process,” the Sudanese Media Center quoted a source in the National Security and Intelligence Services as saying.
“Most of the staff are working for Darfur’s armed groups or for the ICC,” the source added.
Sudan tightly controls radio and television, and refused to allow U.N. radio station Miraya to broadcast in the north of the country. The Darfur peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, has also been not been given permission to begin broadcasts in the region.
Radio Dabanga is one of the few sources of in-depth news on Darfur still on the air. Last week 13 staff at Dabanga and pro-democracy group HAND were arrested along with another prominent Darfuri journalist working for the independent al-Sahafa paper.
No was immediately available for comment at Radio Dabanga.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bashir in 2009 for war crimes in Darfur and added genocide to the indictment this year. Bashir rejects the charges.
The United Nations estimates about 300,000 people have died in a humanitarian crisis when 2 million people fled a counter-insurgency campaign to squat in miserable camps surrounding Darfur’s towns. Sudan blames Western media for exaggerating the conflict and puts the death toll at 10,000.
Neither Radio Dabanga nor HAND has legal status in Sudan. After the ICC arrest warrant was issued several rights activists in Sudan said they were arrested and tortured while others fled the country fearing for their lives. Khartoum expelled 13 aid groups, accusing them of working for the ICC.
Washington criticized Khartoum for the arrests, and rights groups have said Sudan is using a referendum due in January on whether the south of the country should secede as a cover for the crackdown on Darfur.
Fighting between Darfur rebels and the army reignited last week after a lull caused by heavy rains.
The Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said it had fought with Sudan’s army in North Darfur on Saturday.
“Yesterday ... JEM clashed with SAF in North Darfur,” senior JEM commander Suleiman Sandal told Reuters on Sunday. “The army was moving to take control of the water sources in the region and we got this information and attacked them,” he added.
Three JEM fighters died and 13 were injured, he said, while the army suffered many losses and retreated. The army was not immediately available to comment but has confirmed clashes in the past week with JEM in South Darfur and North Kordofan, a region neighboring Darfur.
(Reporting by Opheera McDoom; editing by David Stamp)
Posted by JAMES TRAUB on 20 09 2010 | Leave a comment
Team Obama has just offered Sudan’s genocidal tyrant one last olive branch. A hickory switch might work better.
This past Tuesday, when the punditocracy was raptly focused on the electoral results in Delaware and New Hampshire, the U.S. State Department quietly issued a policy statement on Sudan that offered the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir a path to escape sanctions and restore normal relations with the United States.
Why no fanfare? Perhaps an administration highly sensitive to accusations of equivocation in the face of evil was reluctant to call attention to a policy that emphasized carrots rather than sticks—or rather, to use the splendidly mangled metaphor of one administration official, offered to the regime in Khartoum “a carrot painted with a finer degree of granularity.” Bashir, who has been indicted on genocide charges by the International Criminal Court, doesn’t deserve a carrot. But the Obama administration has rightly concluded that absent strong inducements, deserved or not, from the United States and other key actors, the regime in Khartoum could well plunge Sudan back into a horrendous civil war.
In January 2005, the regime and the breakaway government of the south put an end to almost 40 years of war by signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The CPA gave southerners the right to choose independence or greater autonomy within Sudan. The referendum in which they will make that choice is scheduled for Jan. 10, 2011, and no one doubts that voters will overwhelmingly choose the former—if the referendum is held, and conducted honestly. But Khartoum appears to have no intention of permitting that. Oil has turned Sudan into a boom economy, and 80 percent of the country’s oil is located in the south. Moreover, the regime fears—with good reason—that granting independence to the South would embolden other regional insurgencies.
Suliman Baldo, a Sudanese scholar with the International Center on Transitional Justice, says that the Bashir government has been orchestrating a domestic media campaign to promote the fiction that all Sudanese seek national unity—and thus that a vote for independence is intrinsically illegitimate. Baldo and others fear that if Khartoum blocks or refuses to recognize the election, provoking the government of the South to unilaterally declare independence, the decades-long civil war that led to the deaths of two million people will resume.
The Obama administration has responded to this apocalyptic prospect with a belated, but very concentrated, diplomatic surge. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor James Jones have spoken with Salva Kiir, the southern leader, and Ali Osman Taha, Sudan’s vice president, urging them to make progress on the terms laid out in the CPA, which they have so far failed to do. President Obama announced last week that he would personally attend a U.N. Security Council session on Sudan chaired by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the upcoming General Assembly meeting; that in turn has persuaded other heads of state, as well as Kiir and Taha, to attend. The administration has beefed up its diplomatic representation in Sudan, in part by naming Princeton Lyman, a veteran diplomat with long experience in Africa, to work with the two sides. And last weekend Scott Gration, Obama’s special envoy to Sudan, went to Khartoum to deliver the administration’s new offer.
That offer is at the heart of the strategy document released earlier this week. Gration presented the regime with four ascending “stages” of granularized carrot. The administration will immediately change the rules governing the export of agricultural equipment to Sudan, now tightly controlled by sanctions. “Previously there had been an assumption of no,” a White House official explained to me. “Now we’re going to shift to an assumption of yes.” This is, in effect, a gift for showing up—no strings attached. If the regime permits the referendum to proceed and respects the outcome, the White House will lift further trade restrictions (though not on the all-important oil sector). If Khartoum also reaches agreement on key North-South issues, including the drawing of boundaries and sharing of oil revenue, Washington will appoint an ambassador (the last ambassador, Timothy Michael Carney, was withdrawn in 1996 after Sudan was declared a state sponsor of terrorism). Only, however, if Khartoum also resolves the Darfur conflict does the administration promise to seek full normalization and the lifting of sanctions.
Administration officials present the package as an “intensification” of existing diplomacy, but that is slightly disingenuous. After long, and reportedly heated, arguments inside the White House over the proper balance between carrot and stick, officials have produced a document that is highly specific about inducements and carefully vague about threats. Despite veiled references to “accountability,” the statement is silent on the ICC indictments. And after much discussion over whether it’s acceptable, or effective, to address the North-South conflict separately from Darfur, the administration plan will allow Khartoum to profit from compliance on North-South issues, though Bashir wins the jackpot only for restoring peace to Darfur.
Some, though not all, members of the advocacy community are appalled at the decision to, quite literally, let the regime get away with murder. John Norris, a Sudan expert at the Center for American Progress and former head of the Enough Project, calls the package “unseemly.” Norris points out that in 2005 Western diplomats made a calculated decision to bless the North-South peace agreement even as the regime perpetrated mass slaughter in Darfur. Indeed, from the very beginnings of the killings in Darfur, in 2003, Bashir responded to pressure from the West by threatening to scuttle negotiations over ending the civil war. “Once again,” Norris says, “you’ve got a bunch of diplomats saying that this current situation is so serious that we need to ignore all this other stuff.”
So there is both a moral case and a strategic case against offering Khartoum goodies in exchange for behaving itself on the referendum. But if the derailing of the referendum really would lead to mass killing (and some experts I spoke to are skeptical on this score), then it’s patent that the moral imperative is to give Bashir incentives to behave himself, and to leave the issue of just deserts to a future date. The only real question is effectiveness. A number of studies (pdf) have concluded that marginalizing Darfur to get the CPA signed was a disastrous mistake that sent Bashir a signal that he could do as he wished with the people of Darfur. Why is it correct now?
Gration was foolish enough to say earlier this year that what remained in Darfur, seven years after the killing broke out, was only “the remnants of genocide.” He was quickly forced to retract the comment in the face of outrage from activists. But he was right. Civilians in Darfur still live in a state of terror, and millions remain displaced; but much of the killing now pits rebel groups, or Arab tribesmen, against one another. On the other hand, the steadily rising levels of violence in the South, much of it probably instigated by Bashir and his colleagues, could explode into the kind of mass ethnic reprisals provoked by the partition of India and Pakistan in 1948. As a State Department official puts it delicately, “There is a sense of urgency on both Darfur and the CPA, but there is a growing sense of immediacy on North-South issues.” The situation in 2005 was the exact opposite.
That said, Bashir must be made to feel that there is a powerful, and imminent, “or else.” So far, the Obama team has hesitated to make threats. Gration in particular has been far too willing in the past to accept the regime’s bona fides, as if unaware of the bland reassurances and bald-faced lies that frustrated his predecessors. Even now, he and his team may be putting too much stock in the influence of “moderates” inside the ruling National Congress Party, whom Western officials have been banking on—fruitlessly—for years. Bashir is likely to “accept” the State Department’s proposal, and then add onerous conditions of his own. A White House official insists that the administration is prepared for that eventuality, and adds that the ability to marshal an international response in case of rejection is “a very important part of the thinking” that went into the new offer. As with Iran, that is, the regime’s rebuff of what is seen as a fair offer will help the United States build the case for tougher sanctions than those Sudan now faces.
Will Bashir be suitably impressed by that prospect? Over the years, he has blithely ignored Security Council resolutions, sanctions, threats of prosecution, and global public opprobrium. He has learned all too well how to exploit the weakness of international diplomacy. Now he holds a lit match over a vast bonfire. Perhaps he fears the consequences of flicking it on to the pyre, but the irresolute response of years past have ensured it’s his choice—and his alone.
source: Foreign Policy
Posted by ALAN COWELL on 27 08 2010 | Leave a comment
President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan arrived in Kenya on Friday to participate in a ceremony inaugurating the country’s newly minted constitution, flouting international demands for his arrest on genocide charges.
Mr. Bashir faces two arrest warrants: one issued in July by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on three counts of genocide and one from March 2009 for war crimes and crime against humanity. In theory the warrants could be enforced by any of the court’s member countries, which include Kenya.
The charges relate to the conflict in the western Darfur region of Sudan, where an estimated 300,000 people have died and more than two million have been uprooted by almost a decade of fighting between the government and rebels. Mr. Bashir denies the charges.
News reports said Mr. Bashir was escorted into Uhuru Park in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, by the minister of tourism, Najib Balala, to attend the ceremony marking the adoption of the new constitution, supposed to hasten democratic reform in Kenya, a nation generally depicted as pro-Western.
The role of the international court is particularly sensitive in Kenya because last April its judges authorized formal criminal investigations of the political leaders who organized the violence that convulsed the country after its disputed election in 2007.
Kenya’s political leaders had earlier refused to set up a special tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the killings, saying Kenya’s existing courts could handle the cases.
Under the Rome Statute establishing the court in 2002, which Kenya has ratified, member states are supposed to cooperate with the court, which has no means of enforcing its warrants. Nonetheless, Mr. Bashir traveled last month to Chad — also a member state of the international court — without being arrested.
The African Union, the continent’s main representative group, has criticized the warrant and urged that it be suspended.
The readiness of President Mwai Kibaki to receive Mr. Bashir drew strong criticism from Human Rights Watch, a rights advocacy group based in New York.
“Kenya will forever tarnish the celebration of its long-awaited constitution if it welcomes an international fugitive to the festivities,” said Elise Keppler, senior counsel in the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch in a statement on Thursday. “Even worse, hosting al-Bashir would throw into question Kenya’s commitment to cooperate with the I.C.C. in its Kenyan investigation.”
“Whether Kenya allows a suspected war criminal into Kenya is a test of the government’s commitment to a new chapter in ensuring justice for atrocities,” Ms. Keppler said. “The Kenyan government should stand with victims, not those accused of horrible crimes, by barring al-Bashir from Kenya or arresting him.”
The international warrants for his arrest have largely restricted Mr. Bashir’s travels to friendly countries in Africa and the Middle East that have resisted Western pressure to do the court’s bidding.
The celebration of Kenya’s new constitution, written to alleviate longstanding problems hindering good government for years, came after voters approved the document with overwhelming enthusiasm in a referendum earlier this month. It has been billed a potential turning point Kenya’s postcolonial history, addressing issues that have haunted the country since independence from Britain in 1963.
The constitution was drawn up after disputed elections in 2007 led to ethnically driven clashes that killed more than 1,000 people.
source: New York Times
Posted by AFP on 15 07 2010 | Leave a comment
KHARTOUM — Darfur’s rebel Justice and Equality Movement said Tuesday it was locked in fresh fighting with Sudan’s army, a day after the International Criminal Court charged President Omar al-Beshir with genocide.
“Early this morning… 60 four-wheel drive vehicles of Sudan’s army and militia obstructed JEM patrols near Kuma, North Darfur, JEM spokesman Ali Alwafi told AFP.
“The genocidal forces lost the battle and fled to Kuma. Our forces pursued them into the town and destroyed their military camp and captured 34 well-equipped vehicles,” he said.
The United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, said it was aware of reports that clashes had broken out between JEM and the Sudanese army.
“UNAMID has received as-yet unconfirmed reports of clashes between government forces and the Justice and Equality Movement in North Darfur. Verification missions are planned to confirm these reports,” it said.
The Sudanese army could not be reached to confirm or deny the reports.
On Monday, the army reported clashes involving JEM, one of the most militarised groups in Darfur, and its soldiers in the strategic Adula region between South Darfur, North Darfur and nearby North Kordofan province.
The fighting came as the International Criminal Court announced it has decided to add genocide to the charges against Beshir, who is already wanted since March 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity over his role in Darfur’s war.
Darfur, an arid desert region the size of France, has been gripped by a civil war since 2003 that has killed 300,000 people and displaced another 2.7 million, according to UN figures. Khartoum says 10,000 people have died.
Posted by alejandro on 22 03 2010 | Leave a comment
Dhaka Mar 22 (bdnews24.com) - The cabinet on Monday ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which sets international standards for prosecution of individuals who commit crimes against humanity.
“The ratification will prove that Bangladesh is determined to follow international standards to prosecute crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide” the prime minister’s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad said.
Bangladesh signed the Rome Statute on July 17, 1998, the first country to do so in South Asia.
The statute, entering into force on 1 July 2002, is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The ICC’s main purpose is to assist the international community in trying the most heinous international crimes: genocide, war crimes, and crimes again humanity. The official seat of the permanent tribunal is in The Hague, Netherlands, but its proceedings may take place anywhere.
But it remains a “court of last resort”, leaving the primary responsibility to exercise jurisdiction over alleged criminals to national legal systems. Under this system of ‘complementarity’, it will only act when national authorities are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute crimes.
Asked whether ratification of the statute by Bangladesh would help in the government’s upcoming prosecution of 1971 war crimes trials, law minister Shafique Ahmed earlier this week said ratification was necessary for prosecution of future instances of crimes against humanity.
The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed on or after the date it came into force. However, ratification of the statute calls on countries to adopt a number of actions, including bringing their own laws into line with its provisions.
The law minister last week confirmed that Bangladesh’s upcoming 1971 war crimes trials would be held under its recently amended International Crimes (Tribunals) Act 1973.
An expert panel of international lawyers, including a former war crimes prosecutor, submitted a legal opinion to the government last month, however, advising further amendments to ensure the 1973 Act meets international standards.
Among other recommendations, the lawyers advise that sections of the Rome Statute dealing with rights of suspects during investigations must be included in the Act.
As of October 2009, 110 states were party to the Rome Statute, and a further 38 states had signed but not ratified the treaty. The US, Sudan and Israel, once signatories, have ‘unsigned’ the statute.
source: Bangladesh News Online
Posted by James Gatdet Dak on 18 03 2010 | Leave a comment
March 17, 2010 (JUBA) – The Ugandan rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are planning to carry out attacks in Southern Sudan during the April elections, says the spokesman of the Southern Sudan army.
Maj. Gen. Kuol Deim Kuol said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has confirmed that LRA has planned for massive attacks in Western Equatoria state and Greater Bahr el Ghazal region to coincide with the elections in the region.
Speaking to the UN-sponsored Miraya FM radio based in Juba, Kuol accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of supporting the LRA to destabilize Southern Sudan.
He said the SPLA forces are ready to repel such attacks and provide security to the people during the elections.
Kuol also echoed the recent statement by the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni that LRA forces are based in Darfur region.
He added that LRA forces have already been spotted in areas of Western Bahr el Ghazal state in their preparation for the attacks.
Earlier Sudan Armed Forces denied the claim that the LRA forces are based in Darfur, describing it as “baseless.”
LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, had been supported by SAF during the war time and his forces were established or roaming in the three states of Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria before the signing of the CPA that ended the North-South civil war in 2005.
In 2006, the Government of Southern Sudan and Uganda agreed on the initiative to talk peace with the rebels in an effort to end the more than twenty years of conflict which began in 1986.
After two years of successful Southern Sudan-mediated talks in Juba that resulted to relative peace in northern Uganda, nearly two million people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda were able to leave IDP camps and returned to their villages.
However, after concluding the talks by signing several protocols between Uganda government and the rebels including the timetable for implementation of the agreement, Joseph Kony in the last minute refused to sign the compiled Final Peace Agreement document with President Museveni, citing ICC’s arrest warrant for his indictment as an obstacle.
Southern Sudan’s Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar, who was the Chief Mediator in the negotiations between the two parties had to shuttle between Juba and Sudan-DR Congo border looking for Joseph Kony in the wild jungles of thick forests in that region to find him for face-to-face talks in order to convince him to sign, but to no avail.
Kony has since then instead continued with the cross-border international rebellion which affects Southern Sudan, DR Congo, Central Africa Republic and the native country, Uganda.
source: Sudan Tribune
Posted by Tomer Zarchin, Haaretz Correspondent on 01 03 2010 | Leave a comment
The claims of alleged war crimes committed, according to the Goldstone report, during fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas in late 2008 and early 2009 will not reach the International Criminal Court at the Hague, a former ICC official told Haaretz on Sunday.
Legal attorney Nick Kaufman, who had served as a senior prosecutor at the ICC and a senior district attorney for the Jerusalem prosecution, said Israeli officials were likely safe from war crimes suits as the U.S. would probably veto such a move.
Until a month ago Kaufman, an expert on international law and rules of warfare, served as a senior lawyer in the Jerusalem prosecutor’s office.
- Nick Kaufman, do you think you will represent an Israeli official, who has been charged with committing war crimes following the Goldstone report, at the international court?
Kaufman: “I don’t believe so. I think the Goldstone report will receive a poor man’s burial.”
- You sound decisive.
” I don’t understand how the United Nations Security Council has made a decision to transfer the case to the international criminal court at The Hague, because I think in any event, the United States will veto the decision.”
“The UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was satisfied with the investigation Israel has conducted, but the Arab League and other unidentified countries have insisted that a new investigation be conducted in the next 5 months. I don’t see it going beyond this.”
“On the other hand, I don’t believe the senior prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, will yield to the Palestinians request and order an investigation against Israel: For him to accept the Palestinian request to recognize their court authority to try and judge the violations committed on their land, he would first have to recognize the Palestinian Authority as an independent country, and I cant see him making such an extreme decision. I just don’t see it happening.”
Where did you first meet Judge Richard Goldstone?
“Before he headed the inquiry committee, Goldstone was the recipient of a scholarship and he served for a few months at The Hague. When rumors spread about his appointment to the committee that will investigate the events in Gaza, I went to hear him speaking at the central library in Hague.”
“I gave him a letter from Noam Shalit, in which he wrote that Gilad’s captivity is against international law, and that t should be declared a war crime and a breach of the Geneva Convention. It also said that he should recommend that he be released when he is appointed head of the committee.”
And what did he say?
“He got back to me several hours afterwards, and told me that he was touched by Gilad’s story in a personal manner, and he understands the concern. Eventually, the report he wrote has a legal mistake regarding the conditions of Gilad’s captivity.”
Do you agree with the Israel’s criticism against him?
“I think the personal criticism against him did him injustice. He might be naive, but I think that Goldstone is an Israel supporter. I don’t think he estimated the extent of the personal hatred Israel expressed towards him.”
“I think that the politician’s slander of him during the committee and after it, damaged israel’s image in the international community, as Israel did not understand what a respected legal personality Goldstone is. A man who served as the supreme prosecutor of two international courthouses knows something about violation of rules of warfare. Saying that he is stupid and knows nothing projects on us.”
The argument is that he claimed sole mandate of a unilateral investigation.
“This is a basic mistake, which I know has frustrated Goldstone extremely. I met with him several months later, at a MacArthur foundation event where they were honoring him for his work in the international legal arena, and he came up to me and expressed deep frustration from the fact that Israel is not allowing him to enter Sderot to hear eyewitness testimonies, and also to enter Gaza from Israel.”
“He was frustrated as he was the one who requested from the Human Rights Council in Geneva to extend the investigation to cover both the Palestinian and the Israeli actions in the Gaza War, and for some reason, even after the publication of the report Israel still criticized the report as being unilateral.”
Did you hear him express any affinity to Israel or Judaism?
“I remember when Noam Shalit brought him Gilad’s childhood book “when the shark and the fish first met,” during their meeting last year, he didn’t know how to read the book and opened it on the wring side. I remember thinking to myself, how come a Jew who prays every year at Yom Kippur doesn’t know how to hold a book in Hebrew.”
- You worked directly under the senior prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who also has the authority to order an investigation against Israel following the Gaza war. What can you tell us about him?
Ocampo’s position is not strong. He has been hit by strong criticism of his performance, as he has failed convict even one person in the international criminal court during his tenure. I estimate that his position is unstable, and he won’t want to interfere with such a controversial subject.
If you think the Goldstone report will be buried, there is no point in erecting a committee to investigate the war crime allegations during the Gaza offensive.
“Because I don’t see the affair reaching the International court, I also don’t see a real - legal, political and international - reason to establish a committee. But at the same time, I think that there are ethical merits in establishing a committee for internal reasons, in which we can look at ourselves in light of the criticism the world and the report has voiced against us. I don’t think we have a reason to fear the investigation.
Posted by JASON STRAZIUSO (AP) on 18 02 2010 | Leave a comment
NAIROBI, Kenya — A public feud between Kenya’s prime minister and president, whose agreement two years ago to share power ended the country’s worst violence since independence, has many of their compatriots worried that the bloodshed could resume if efforts by the U.S. and African powers fail to cool tensions.
Relations between the two leaders — never strong to begin with — broke down this week over the attempted dismissals of two Cabinet ministers accused of corruption. In the streets of Kenya’s capital, dozens of protesters marched in front of Parliament on Wednesday, demanding an end to corruption and expressing worry about the friction between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“It’s definitely going to lead to violence because they are not working toward consensus,” Polycarp Gordon Odhiambo, 37, the chief executive of a development group that works in a Nairobi slum, said as he walked among other protesters who held up signs saying “Kibaki Stop Protecting Thieves” and “The Issue is Corruption, Not Politics.”
“From now on, anything can happen,” added Laban Kanyanya Nyongesa, 29, a taxi driver who watched the rally from the edge of a park.
U.S. officials are working behind the scenes to get the two leaders to talk face-to-face and bring down tensions that could rupture the coalition.
The two leaders spoke over the phone late Wednesday during an “extremely cordial” conversation, Salim Lone, an adviser to Odinga said Thursday. The two plan to meet on Sunday, he said.
Tensions escalated last Saturday when Kibaki suspended eight government workers — including two Odinga aides — suspected of corruption. The next day, Odinga suspended two Cabinet ministers after audits of their ministries of agriculture and education uncovered high-level corruption. But Kibaki annulled those suspensions and has since said they were never valid because Odinga had not consulted with him as required under Kenya’s power-sharing deal.
Moses Kuria, spokesman of Kibaki’s Party of National Unity, said that if Odinga or ministers loyal to him withdraw from the government, the president can simply reconstitute the Cabinet.
Legal scholars say such a move by Kibaki would be lawful. But it would risk sending angry Odinga supporters into the streets.
Fears of a return to violence are well founded, especially if the political stalemate goes on for many days, said Ben Sihanya, the dean of the University of Nairobi Law School. But, he said,
Kenyans are also aware that they are under more scrutiny today — by the International Criminal Court and others — after the December 2007-February 2008 bloodshed.
“You cannot just start killing people,” Sihanya said. “You cannot start burning things. People are being more careful than they were before.”
After the December 2007 vote, Kibaki was quickly sworn in as president despite doubts from observers about the vote’s fairness. Odinga supporters took to the streets and clashed with police. The violence took on an ethnic dimension as people were attacked with machetes and even bows and arrows based on their tribal identities. Whole neighborhoods were set ablaze.
Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, a heavyweight negotiator acceptable to both sides, patched together the shaky coalition government to end the violence. Odinga has asked Annan to step in and mediate the current standoff. In a statement Thursday, Annan called on the two leaders to recommit to a collaborative spirit, to meet with each other and to fight corruption.
Top U.S. officials here are monitoring the dispute closely, are working to defuse the tension and also want the two leaders to meet.
Gus Selassie, a political analyst on Africa at IHS Global Insight, a London-based think tank, said that while Odinga may have exceeded his constitutional powers in trying to suspend the two ministers, Kibaki’s reversal of the decision underscores the disconnect between Kenya’s two leaders.
Selassie said that while Kibaki was first elected president in December 2002 on an anti-corruption platform, he is now reluctant to act against senior figures implicated in scandals.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers audit made public last week shows Kenya lost $26.1 million through corrupt deals that stemmed from a government program to provide subsidized maize for Kenya’s poor. Government auditors uncovered fraud in a program to offer free primary education — two scandals that led Odinga to try to dismiss the Cabinet ministers.
Average Kenyans still want their government to fight graft, but now they especially want their leaders to work together and prevent violence from erupting again.
“We expect this to be resolved,” said Sihanya. “Otherwise the alternative is quite dire for the country.”
source: The Associated Press
Posted by James Butty | Washington, DC on 15 02 2010 | Leave a comment
Fouad Hikmat of the Crisis Group says the National Congress Party’s control of the electoral commission and lack of representation for Darfur could be problematic
Campaigning for Sudan’s first multi-party election in 24 years is underway after kicking off over the weekend.
Twelve candidates are running for president in the April 11 election, including longtime leader Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.
Fouad Hikmat, the International Crisis Group’s advisor on the African Union and Sudan, said while the April elections are important for Sudan’s democratic transformation, the outcome could be problematic for a number reasons.
“Very clearly Darfur is not being able to play a role in this election, and therefore I will see that the solution for Darfur after this election is going to be problematic,” he said.
Another problem, Hikmat said, is the fact that President Bashir’s National Congress (NCP) controls the national electoral commission.
“There is a lot of accusation that the environment is not free and fair given that the National Congress Party is controlling the National Electoral Commission and it will bring about a majority of a government that has been part of the conflict in Darfur. And therefore the election might not bring stability. On the contrary it might bring a sort of a continuation of violence and grievances after the election,” Hikmat said.
Hikmat said President Bashir would like to win the election to send a message to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“Specifically Bashir, he’s being accused by the ICC, and that’s why it is extremely important for him to win the elections to give a message that if I was a person that committed crimes against humanity, my people wouldn’t have chosen me,” Hikmat said.
However, Hikmat said President Bashir would be making a false assumption about his legitimacy following the election.
“If he regains his legitimacy based on those grounds, then he would have got an argument to some an extent, although that argument whatever it is, it is not going to wave away a judicial process, and that is the process of the International Criminal Court,” he said.
Hikmat said Bashir could also use the results of the election to legitimize himself over his political opponents, including the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
“For the SPLM, it is very concerned that the re-legitimization of the NCP which is not based on a fair and free election, might jeopardize the implementation of the remaining provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” Hikmat said.
He also said a re-legitimized President Bashir could also have repercussion for Darfur rebel groups.
“As far as the Darfur rebel groups, they think that the re-legitimization of Bashir, given that he is going to argue that look I have been re-elected and therefore what happened in Darfur is not true and might give a sort of legitimate grounding for Bashir to continue not finding a settlement to the Darfur problem,” he said.
Hikmat said if this happens, it would mean that the violence in Darfur would continue because the grievances and root causes would not have been resolved,” he said.
He said if the April election happens in an atmosphere of illegitimacy, the new government and institutions which will be developed to continue the negotiations might not be acceptable by Darfurians, specifically the internally displaced.
At their last meeting in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, African leaders reiterated their request for the United Nations to invoke Article 16 which allows the UN Security Council to suspend the ICC prosecutions for a period of 12 months so as to give peace a chance in Darfur.
Hikmat said the African Union’s Panel on Darfur led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, recognizing the lack of an independent legal system in Sudan has recommended the establishment of a hybrid court system in Darfur.
“As far as the ICC (is concerned), that is up to the Sudanese to deal if they could reach a peaceful agreement somewhere in the future for a truce and reconciliation. But still that will not wave the request of the ICC which is to bring Bashir and other culprits into the process for international judicial accountability,” Hikmat said.
source: VOA News
Posted by UN News Centre on 15 10 2009 | Leave a comment
15 October 2009 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed today that its prosecutor is looking into last month’s events in Guinea, where at least 150 people were killed when security forces opened fire on an opposition rally.
“A preliminary examination of the situation has been immediately initiated in order to determine whether crimes falling under the Court’s jurisdiction have been perpetrated,” according to a news release issued by the Court, which is an independent, permanent body that investigates and prosecutes people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Court said that the Prosecutor’s Office has taken note of “serious allegations” surrounding the events of 28 September in the capital, Conakry.
“From the information we have received, from the pictures I have seen, women were abused or otherwise brutalized on the pitch of Conraky’s stadium, apparently by men in uniform” said Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
“This is appalling, unacceptable. It must never happen again. Those responsible must be held accountable,” she added.
Top UN officials have condemned the violent suppression of the 28 September demonstration which High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has characterized as a “blood bath.”
Guinea has been a State Party to the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC, since July 2003. “As such the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide possibly committed in the territory of Guinea or by nationals of Guinea, including killings of civilians and sexual violence,” the Court stated.
Other situations under preliminary examination by the ICC Prosecutor include Afghanistan, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Georgia, Kenya, and Palestine.
Currently, four situations – the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan – are under investigation by the Prosecutor.
originally from the UN News Centre
Posted by Amanda Hsiao on 03 10 2009 | Leave a comment
On Thursday, the Great Lakes Policy Forum hosted a talk, “The ICC in Africa: Impartial Judge or Neo-Colonial Project?” featuring speakers Ruth Wedgwood, Director of the International Law and Organizations Program at Johns Hopkins University, Suliman Baldo, Africa Director of the International Center for Transitional Justice, and Charles Villa-Vicencio, Ph.D., former Executive Director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation. Discussion focused on why frustrations towards the ICC have emerged, what the appropriate role for the organization is, and whether its involvement as an outsider can truly provide the reconciliation needed at the local level.
According to its founding treaty, the ICC would only get involved in cases when states are unwilling or genuinely unable to carry out their own investigations and prosecutions. Wedgwood noted that the language, particularly the use of “genuinely,” was prone to subjectivity and led to unprecedented actions, such as the warrant issued for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.
The African Union has been a vocal opponent of the ICC’s move to issue an arrest warrant for al-Bashir,.Villa-Vicencio said he sees this reaction as part of a growing antagonism in Africa towards international institutions. In this particular case, the AU had requested from both the ICC and the United Nations Security Council for more time to act before the warrant was issued. Despite these overtures, the ICC went ahead with the warrant, which, according to Villa-Vicencio, undermined the AU’s efforts in Darfur and role in the region’s peace process. Baldo, who spoke at length about the growing frustrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo towards the ICC’s prosecutions in the Ituri region, said that the AU rejection of al-Bashir’ indictment was not a dismissal of the war crimes committed, but an assertion that the AU should be at the center of the region’s security and peace efforts.
Not all of the ICC’s efforts were criticized. The panel agreed that the ICC indictment of Joseph Kony and top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army was essential for bringing the rebel group to the negotiating table. Baldo added that the international pressure led Ugandan civil society leaders to create their own set of ideas for seeking reconciliation and accountability—ideas that were incorporated in the Juba Agreement.
Villa-Vicencio suggested that in order for the ICC to achieve both justice and peace, it must increase dialogue with the AU and redirect its focus to building local and regional structures that can do the work of reconciliation themselves. Without local engagement, the ICC risks disconnecting from the very population for whom it seeks justice. He said, “Is there justice when the ICC comes in and local people do not understand, see, or feel the justice?”
As the event’s title suggests, the ICC often evokes impassioned debates, and Thursday’s event was no exception. To read more about the Court, check out Enough’s special page.
originally posted @ Enough Project
Posted by alejandro on 18 09 2009 | Leave a comment
Today, the International Criminal Court held a ceremony to welcome the Republic of Chile as the newest State Party to the Rome Statute. The Statute entered into force for Chile on 1 September 2009, bringing the total number of States Parties to the Rome Statute to 109.
In a symbolic act held at the seat of the Court, the President of the Court, Judge Sang–Hyun Song, congratulated the Ambassador of Chile, H.E. Mr Juan Antonio Martabit whilst presenting him with a special edition of the Rome Statute. President Song welcomed the new State Party member: “Even as Chile sifts through its past, by joining the Rome Statute, it has made clear its commitment to a particular vision of a common human future. It is a future of accountability – a future of justice for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide”, said President Song.
In response to the President and while thanking him for his gift, Ambassador Martabit said, “I would like to emphasise that, although this achievement is the result of the efforts of many sectors of our society, it is most of all due to the personal interest of our President, Ms Michelle Bachelet, who considered the ratification of the Rome Statute a primary goal of her government.”
The ceremony was held in the presence of the Vice-President of the Assembly of States Parties and Ambassador of Mexico, H.E. Mr Jorge Lomónaco. The Vice-President of the ICC, Judge Fatoumata Dembele Diarra, the Prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Registrar, Ms Silvana Arbia, and the judges of the Court also attended the ceremony.
Ambassador Lomónaco paid tribute to the Republic of Chile, remarking on the significant accomplishment of such a ratification in light of the history of Latin American countries in the twentieth century: “I
wish to express my genuine hope that other countries that have yet to join the Rome Statute family will be inspired by Chile’s example and reinforce our common struggle to end impunity”.
Whilst this is the first time that the ICC has organised a ceremony for such an event, it is envisaged that future ceremonies will also be held on the occasion of new States joining the ICC.
Posted by Rahim Kanani on 13 09 2009 | 1 comment
An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people died under his brutal reign of terror. Justice was never served. 80,000 of the country’s minority, named “bloodsuckers” by the tyrant, were expelled with 90 days to flee their property and possessions. Justice was never served. No, this is not al-Bashir’s Sudan. This is Uganda, and at the helm of hell was military dictator and President Idi Amin, who died in exile on Saudi Arabian soil in 2003. Following his 8 years as ruler of Uganda in the 1970s, Idi Amin spent 24 years unpunished, living seaside in the Kingdom. The rivers of justice ran dry as the former President soaked up the sun for more than two decades.
Back then, a system of justice that was unrestrained by geographical borders was merely an armchair exercise in intellectual idealism. Today, that very system is now permanent, global, and on the front lines of the justice business, gradually giving a resounding voice to the victims of the world’s gravest crimes. Much of the conversation surrounding international criminal justice focuses on the capacity, credibility, and complexity of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the system of international criminal justice depends on a much larger framework of international institutions, nation states, non-governmental organizations, regional courts, international law enforcement bodies, and new entities working toward the control of violence, the promotion of lasting security, and the manifestation of justice for the world’s gravest crimes.
We simply cannot let this newly minted system of accountability slip through the cracks of politics as usual or skepticism and doubt. If we do, the moral stride of humanity will have taken one step back, rather than two steps forward. And while this new global system of justice cannot call Idi Amin to account for the litany of crimes he committed, including the expulsion of my mother and father from Uganda in 1972, the mere presence and pursuit of this international structure is touching the lives of many millions of people around the world affected by those engaged in truly heinous crimes.
The Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice could not come at a more critical moment on the continuum of ending impunity and global cooperation in addressing mass atrocities. Convened by the Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations at Harvard University and sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, members of the Steering Committee also include the International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the International Center for Transitional Justice. The 3-day conference hosted at the United Nations Headquarters September 9-11 is bringing together 150 high-level participants including the world’s international justice experts, diplomats, scholars, jurists, and civil society actors to openly consult and better align strategies for the next three years. Landmark in nature, this is the first effort of its kind to strengthen the global system of international criminal justice.
Currently, there are four active investigations before the ICC, each with outstanding arrest warrants: Uganda; the Democratic Republic of Congo; Darfur, Sudan; and the Central African Republic. In addition, the Court also has several situations under analysis, including Colombia, Afghanistan, Georgia, Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. Entrenched within these investigations, discussions and debates run the threads of local justice versus international justice, enforcement politics and State obligations, perceived biases towards the African continent, and last but not least, the complex relationship between the humanitarian community and the International Criminal Court.
With a number of outstanding arrest warrants and many more countries on the cusp of becoming active ICC investigations, the system of international criminal justice is at a crossroads and in need of stronger alignment amongst its actors. The time is now to understand and continue building a synergistic system that guides the agendas of many towards common goals.
At this defining moment, The Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice aims to address these issues from the multitude of angles through which international criminal justice is perceived, strengthened, and dependent upon. Presenters include the Prosecutor, Registrar, and President of the International Criminal Court; Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (‘94-‘96); Ambassadors of Mexico, Kenya and Tanzania to the United Nations; Commissioners of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights; Executive Director of Human Rights Watch; President and CEO of Save the Children; President of the Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia; and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister of Justice, among many others.
Crediting Canada with saving their lives, my parents had faith that such forced resettlement from Uganda would ultimately bear its fruit one day. “This was a blessing in disguise,” my father said, examining the last 37 years. Others were not so lucky.
Back then, we could rationalize injustice and inaction by the international community because we lacked a common framework, permanent global institutions, and other enabling tools to save the world’s most vulnerable populations. Today, these ideas are being put into practice, testing the will of humanity to fight for justice. Let us not fail this test, for if we fail, this article will be reprinted with only a handful of words changed—the main one, of course, would be replacing the name of President Idi Amin with President Omar al-Bashir. With the Arab League in support of the Sudanese president, not even the exile haven of choice would change.
originally from the Huffington Post
Posted by alejandro on 13 09 2009 | Leave a comment
10 September 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed the continued support of the United Nations for the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which he said has become the “centrepiece” of the global criminal justice system since it came into existence only several years ago.
“The establishment of the International Criminal Court was a landmark in the efforts of the international community to enforce the applicability of international humanitarian law, and to advance the cause of justice and the rule of law on a universal scale,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice.
The ICC is an independent, permanent court that investigates and prosecutes people accused of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and is based on a treaty known as the Rome Statue. To date, 100 States are party to the Statute, which has nearly 140 signatories.
The efforts by the UN to further the causes of peace, development and human rights are closely connected to the work of the ICC, Mr. Ban noted, adding that the world body stands ready to do all that is needed to “facilitate the Court’s noble and important mission.”
In the message, delivered by UN Legal Counsel Patricia O’Brien, the Secretary-General pointed out the increased support for the idea that justice must be an essential part of post-conflict strategies to ensure a sustainable peace.
This could take the form of international accountability mechanisms, boosting national accountability methods, and setting up possible non-judicial forums such as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, he said.
Since the Rome Statue entered into force in 2002, Mr. Ban said, “the activities of the Court and its Prosecutor have had a discernible effect on potential perpetrators of international crimes.”
Currently, four situations – the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan – are under investigation by the ICC Prosecutor.
originally from UN News Center