Week in Review: Impunity in Mexico, disappointment in Georgia

10.07.17

François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net
The International Criminal Court in The Hague The International Criminal Court in The Hague ©ICC

Transitional justice can take different forms. This week several international and national NGOs called in The Hague for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes in Mexico. They accuse State authorities of “colluding” with drug cartels to commit murder, torture and enforced disappearances, especially in the northern state of Coahuila between 2009 and 2016. Organized crime, they say has become crimes against humanity and therefore falls within the ICC’s jurisdiction. The Mexico situation has been on the ICC Prosecutor’s desk for a while. It is one of the secret preliminary examinations, consisting of complaints received by the Court that are still being studied.

"From 2009, the whole chain of state security authorities colluded with the Zetas (drug cartel) to commit crimes against humanity," said Jimena Reyes, Americas director for the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH). She added that the violence "has to stop, as the situation has reached an incomprehensible level of cruelty". By publicly denouncing the crimes in Mexico, the NGOs hope to draw attention to the situation and get involvement from the international community.  

Georgia and South Africa

Another conflict examined by the ICC is the lightning war between Russia and Georgia in summer 2008. ICC judges authorized the opening of an investigation in 2016, but little progress has been made so far. In an interview with JusticeInfo.net, Georgian lawyer and Open Society activist Nika Jeiranashvili stresses this is the first time that the ICC is dealing with an international conflict, not an internal one, and one involving a big power – Russia. He thinks the Georgia case, if handled properly, can set a precedent for other countries such as Palestine and Afghanistan. But, he says, “if the ICC fails in Georgia, it will be the same in Afghanistan and Palestine". “I do not think that people at the Court thought about all that when they set foot in Georgia,” he told JusticeInfo. “They were stepping outside Africa.” 

Africa, which has been the subject of most ICC cases so far, was again a target this week as the Court’s judges blamed South Africa for failing in its obligation to arrest in June 2015 Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, who is under two ICC arrest warrants for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Bashir attended an African Union summit in Johannesburg from June 13 to 15, 2015, without being troubled by the authorities. The ICC blamed South Africa but also the UN for doing nothing to get the arrest warrants executed.

Tunisia

JusticeInfo.net also returned this week to the situation in Tunisia of homosexuals, who have been forgotten in the democratic transition. Our correspondent presents the portrait of a brave lawyer, Fadoua Brahem, who is a defender of the LGBT community, a persecuted minority in this Muslim country. “It was purely by chance that this young woman became interested in the victims of Article 230 of the Tunisian Penal Code, which dates from the French protectorate,” writes Olfa Belhassine. “This article criminalizes homosexual relations between consenting adults and provides sanctions of up to three years in jail.” Above all, homosexuals who are arrested are subjected to an anal examination, “the test of shame” according to this lawyer, who is fighting to get it scrapped.  

 

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