International Criminal Court (ICC)

    Week in Review: Transitional justice is “an art not a science”
    22.05.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    In an excellent new book, our colleagues at American NGO ICTJ recognize that transitional justice is “an art, not a science”. The International Center for Transitional Justice, a specialist in the field, says that “part of the art is in understanding the context (of the country concerned), including the opposition to justice”.  ICTJ could have been talking about the Central African Republic (CAR), which was hit by new attacks this week. Unprecedented violence directed mainly at the United Nations force (MINUSCA) left dozens of people dead in Bangassou in the south of the country. “The...

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    Campaigners want banana firm probed over Colombia war
    18.05.17
    AFP

    Campaigners on Thursday demanded the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate executives of a US banana firm over alleged links to crimes against humanity in Colombia's civil war. The Human Rights Coalition "called on the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the complicity of executives at Chiquita Brands International in crimes against humanity," it said in a statement. It said Chiquita paid a fine after admitting in 2007 having made payments to the AUC right-wing paramilitary group. The paramilitaries were one of the sides in Colombia's decades-long, multifaceted civil war, active in banana-growing areas of the country. But, according to the...

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    Chiquita “contributed” to Colombian paramilitary crimes, ICC told
    18.05.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    Human rights organizations are asking the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to include managers of Chiquita Brands International Inc. in her preliminary examination on Colombia. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the International Human Rights Clinic of Harvard University and Colombian NGO Colectivo de Abogados José Alvear Restrepo  (CAJAR) accuse the multinational of having “contributed” to crimes against humanity committed by the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a paramilitary group. They say that from 1997 to 2004, the world leading...

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    Which court for which crimes in the Central African Republic?
    17.05.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Central African Republic (CAR) is still torn by militia violence and is struggling to rebuild after the 2012-2014 civil war, which left some 5,000 people dead and turned nearly 900, 000 Central Africans into refugees and displaced people. In a country where the government controls only a small part of the territory, justice is trying to find a way forward. The Special Criminal Court, created in 2015, now has its Prosecutor and several judges, while the International Criminal Court has since 2014 been investigating crimes committed during the CAR civil war. “The attack against...

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    Week in Review: US strikes in Syria, while Rwanda remembers the genocide
    09.04.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    International justice saw a new failure this week on Syria. The UN Security Council was unable to agree a Resolution after the “chemical weapons” massacre at Khan Cheikhoun which left dozens dead and injured, including children. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called it a war crime, saying that “international humanitarian law has been violated”. Nevertheless opposition from Russia, backer of the Syrian regime, and China prevented a Resolution condemning this massacre blamed on the Syrian air force. This blockage in the UN Security Council has also stopped any moves to refer Syria to...

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    Syrian war crime brings illegal but perhaps legitimate US strikes
    07.04.17
    Pierre Hazan

    Syrian air force use of chemical weapons against civilians is a war crime, or even a crime against humanity. The retaliatory US missile strikes are perhaps legitimate, but certainly illegal under international law.   On Friday August 30, 2013, US President Barack Obama took one of the heaviest decisions of his mandate. He decided to abandon the “red line” that he had himself set. He would not take military action against the Syrian regime, even though it had just used chemical weapons. But new US President Donald Trump took action this Thursday, after seeing the images of dozens of dead...

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    Can satellite imagery still prove war crimes?
    31.03.17
    Pierre Hazan, JusticeInfo editorial advisor and associate professor at Neuchâtel University

    A few years ago, satellite images were seen as a decisive technological advance that could reveal the truth about war crimes. Satellite images provided essential confirmation of atrocities in Srebrenica and Sudan. But those who violate human rights have learned from this, and are now devising counter-strategies.   When Bosnian Serb forces massacred some 8,000 Muslims in the enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995, photos gathered by US secret service satellites gave the lie to Bosnian Serb nationalist denials. The images of prisoners standing for execution and freshly dug ground at the sites of...

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    International Criminal Justice in Africa: Examining African Alternatives to the ICC
    28.03.17
    Oliver Windridge Counsel at the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, Washington D.C

    In 2016 the threat of mass withdrawals from the ICC once again came into prominence. Since the turn of the year, whilst the threat remains a real concern to many observers, it has been somewhat tempered by Gambia’s and South Africa’s recent decisions not to withdraw from the ICC. However, the continued evolution of international criminal justice requires the examination of alternative international criminal justice options above and beyond the ICC, including the African Union’s very own court, the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.   Introduction   One of the most important...

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    Week in Review: Focus on victims at the International Criminal Court
    27.03.17
    François Sergent (JusticeInfo.net)

    Reparations are one of the four pillars of transitional justice (along with truth, justice and the guarantee of non-repetition), and this week the International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered for the first time that some small individual compensation be given to victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). ICC judges decided that 297 direct victims of a 2003 massacre in a Congolese village should each get a “symbolic” 250 dollars. The judges also decided that convicted Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, who was sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for complicity in war crimes and...

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    ICC grants first individual reparations to victims
    24.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) decided on March 24 that victims of crimes committed by convicted Congolese  militiaman Germain Katanga will get both individual and collective reparations. This is the first time that the Court has awarded individual reparations. The 297 direct victims of Germain Katanga’s crimes will each receive just over 230 Euros. “This symbolic amount does not aim to compensate all the harm done,” said Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut during the March 24 hearing, but will provide some “relief” to the victims. They should also benefit from collective reparations...

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    Justice for victims at heart of ICC credibility, says Open Society
    23.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to decide on March 24 what reparations to grant victims of former Congolese militiaman Germain Katanga, whom it sentenced in 2014 to 12 years in jail for crimes against humanity. To date, the Court has handed down only one incomplete decision on reparations for victims in the case of another Congolese, Thomas Lubanga. Mariana Pena, legal advisor to the Open Society in The Hague, talked to JusticeInfo.net about the role of victims at the ICC. Mariana Pena, legal adviser to Open Society    JusticeInfo.net: How do you assess victim participation in...

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    ICC jails ex-Congo VP for bribing witnesses
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges on Wednesday sentenced former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba to a year in jail and fined him 300,000 euros for bribing witnesses during his war crimes trial in an unprecedented case before the International Criminal Court. "The chamber imposes on you an additional 12 months, one year, imprisonment," presiding judge Bertram Schmitt told Bemba, adding a "substantial fine" was necessary "to discourage this kind of behaviour". Prosecutors had asked for eight years for Bemba, who is already serving 18 years after being convicted of war crimes by his marauding troops, who...

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    ICC poised to make first awards to war crimes' victims
    22.03.17
    AFP

    Judges at the International Criminal Court may Friday award the tribunal's first monetary sums to victims of war crimes, with lawyers estimating some $16.4 million in damages were caused by a 2003 attack on a Congolese village. Friday's order for reparations for 304 victims of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga is set to be a landmark step for the world's only permanent war crimes court. "Reparations should place the victim in a situation as close as possible to that before the crime was committed," Fidel Nsita Luvengika, the legal representative for victims, argued in a 2016...

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    ICC : Namibia demands $30 bln for German genocide of Herero people
    17.03.17
    AFP

    Namibia is to launch a 30-billion-dollar (28-billion-euro) lawsuit against Germany over genocide committed during colonial rule, when tens of thousands of people were killed, according to documents seen by AFP on Friday. The Namibian government has previously avoided demanding financial compensation, but it changed its stance as two indigenous groups filed a class-action suit in New York against Germany. Legal documents provided to AFP and The Namibian newspaper show that the government has engaged lawyers in London to pursue a case of violation of human rights and a "consequent...

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    Week in Review: Three African women in transitional justice
    13.03.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    “When I think – about the world, politics, freedom, literature, and so on – I do not feel like a woman at all,” wrote French philosopher Belinda Cannone. Her reflection is especially good to remember around International Women’s Day. This week we reported on three African women on different sides of justice and reconciliation.  In the Central African Republic (CAR), former Seleka rebel fighter Martine Bangue told Radio Ndeke Luka in Bangui how she had exchanged weapons for a mason’s trowel. Asked why she chose that profession, she replied: “I chose it because I wanted to be autonomous, to...

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    The rise and fall of Ivorian ex-First Lady Simone Gbagbo
    09.03.17
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    For many of her admirers, Simone Gbagbo, whose trial resumed in her absence Tuesday before an Abidjan court, remains the “Iron Lady”, even behind bars. But for her detractors, she is the “Bloodstained Lady”. Côte d’Ivoire’s former First Lady was sentenced in 2015 to 20 years in jail for endangering State security and is now on trial again for crimes against humanity. The wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo is undoubtedly one of the leading female figures of contemporary Ivorian history. Although visibly marked by jail, this fervent Evangelist, 67, refuses to give in. Like her husband,...

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    South Africa revokes decision to leave ICC: UN
    08.03.17
    AFP

    South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the International Criminal Court following last month's High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional. Notice of Pretoria's decision to end the withdrawal process was posted on the UN's treaty website this week, although it does not necessarily spell the end of its bid to leave the Hague-based court. South Africa had in October announced it would withdraw from the UN court which was set up to try the world's worst crimes following a dispute sparked by its refusal to arrest visiting Sudan President Omar...

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    ICC Prosecutor at a turning point
    07.03.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has been in her post since June 16, 2012, and is now half way through her mandate. In four and a half years she has opened two new cases -- Mali and Georgia -- and issued an arrest warrant against Malian Jihadist Ahmed Al Mahdi for war crimes. Too little action to date, say observers, but she has numerous cases in the pipeline, notably against the Russians, British, Americans and Israelis. People wait impatiently for her expected opening of an Afghanistan case involving torture by US forces. They see it as a test and possibly a...

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    Syria regime, rebels committed war crimes in Aleppo: UN probe
    01.03.17
    AFP

    All Syrian sides that fought in the battle for Aleppo committed war crimes and the deal to evacuate civilians following the rebel defeat was a "crime of forced displacement', a UN probe said Wednesday. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) for Syria documented violations including chemical attacks and civilian executions perpetrated during the Damascus regime's five-month siege of eastern Aleppo, which had been a key opposition stronghold. From July 21, 2016 to December 22, when government troops recaptured the city, the Syrian air force and its Russian ally "conducted daily air...

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    Week in review: Court blow for South Africa and challenges facing CAR’s Special Court
    27.02.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The transitional justice week was marked notably by a South African court’s decision that the country’s notification of withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) was unconstitutional. This is at least a victory for the rule of law.  The decision of the High Court in Pretoria is based on procedure and does not stop the government from going ahead with ICC withdrawal, according to Hugo van der Merwe, Research Director at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Cape Town, who spoke to JusticeInfo. It nevertheless forces the government to go through...

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