International Criminal Court (ICC)

    Week in Review: Amnesia in Poland, violence in Venezuela and the Philippines
    12.02.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    Poland’s adoption of a controversial law on the history of the Holocaust marked the transitional justice week. Once again, a country is trying to impose its vision of history through law and close all debate on its past. The text provides for prison sentences of up to three years for anyone who talks of “Polish death camps” or “attributes responsibility or co-responsibility of the Polish State in Nazi crimes”.  Historically, the extermination camps in Poland during the Second World War were German and the work of the Nazis without collaboration of the Warsaw government, unlike other...

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    Wake up to suffering of Georgian victims, NGOs tell international court
    08.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    In a report published on February 5, human rights organizations express concern for the situation of victims of the summer 2008 Russia-Georgia war.  Two years after the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation, they are calling on the Court to go faster. In The Hague, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) asserts that the investigation is “progressing at full speed”. The 50-page report calls for the world not to forget victims of the lightning summer 2008 war (August 7-12, 2008) that pitted Russia against Georgia for the separatist province of South Ossetia. It is published...

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    ICC probing alleged crimes in Philippines, Venezuela
    08.02.18
    AFP

    The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on Thursday unveiled new probes focusing on the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines and alleged abuses during Venezuela's political unrest. The unprecedented decision to launch two inquiries at once comes after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was petitioned by opposition leaders from the two countries, accusing their hardline governments of crimes against humanity. Bensouda said after "a careful, independent and impartial review... I have decided to open a preliminary examination into each situation." Both countries have signed the...

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    Afghanistan: NGO urges ICC not to forget Guantanamo crimes
    05.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    A human rights NGO has called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to extend its likely investigations on Afghanistan to crimes committed at Guantanamo. On November 20, 2017, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court’s  judges for authorisation to open an investigation into crimes committed by US forces and the CIA in Afghanistan and Europe, as well as by the Taliban and the Afghan regime. The victims had until January 31, 2018 to support or reject this request. Their opinions should allow the judges to decide whether or not it is in victims’ interest to open an...

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    Week in Review: Hope in Guinea, disappointment in Togo, impunity in Burundi
    22.01.18
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    Will justice be done in Guinea in the very sensitive case of the September 28, 2009 massacre of 150 people in a stadium in the capital Conakry? This looks more likely after investigations closed in December 2017 and the suspects were referred for trial, but victims are not so happy.  Firstly, Justice Minister Cheik Sacko is already saying the government does not have the money to hold this trial, which could last 8 to 10 months according to him. So he has thrown the ball into the court of donors, mainly the US and Europe, who have been calling for years for light to be shed on this massacre...

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    Burundi: "Impunity for serious crimes remains the norm"
    19.01.18
    Human Rights Watch

    The Burundi government continued its repression of real and perceived political opponents in 2017, according to the annual report of Human Rights Watch published on January 18. This included murder, forced disappearance, torture and arbitrary arrest. In its determination to continue suppressing the population without the outside world's gaze, the regime of Pierre Nkurunziza has also declared all foreign investigators persona non grata.  The political and human rights crisis that began in Burundi in April 2015, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a...

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    Will Guinea hold trial this year for 2009 stadium massacre?
    18.01.18
    Aïssatou Barry in Conakry

      In Guinea, investigations into the September 2009 massacre in Conakry have finally closed, seven years after the event. Announcing this on December 29, 2017, Guinean Justice Minister Cheik Sacko said the suspects have been referred for trial. On September 28, 2009 the military junta in power at the time brutally crushed a peaceful opposition protest, killing 156 people and raping more than 100 women, according to UN figures. The end of the judicial investigation seems to pave the way for a trial. A steering committee has been set up to prepare the first stages of the trial, although no...

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    Week in Review: African dictators cling to power, as Tunisia protests austerity again
    14.01.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    On JusticeInfo.net, French jurist Didier Niewiadowski looks at what he calls “exception for insecurity”, a pretext used by African dictators to postpone elections indefinitely. The best example, he writes, is Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo who, according to Niewiadowski, is “using the exception for insecurity with cynicism and provocation”. “His mandate expired definitively on December 19, 2016,” the writer explains, “but despite mediation by the National Episcopal Conference of Congo and the accords of December 31, 2016, the presidential election did not take place in...

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    ICC investigations in Burundi “will be difficult but not impossible”
    11.01.18
    Emmanuel Sehene Ruvugiro in Kigali

    Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) became effective in October 2017, after the Court had finished its preliminary examination on crimes committed since April 2015 in that country. But Burundi’s withdrawal does not put an end to the ICC investigations.  According to Stella Ndirangu, a Kenyan human rights lawyer working with the International Commission of Jurists, the challenge now is how the Court in The Hague will conduct investigations, since Bujumbura has clearly stated that it will not cooperate. She says the task will be difficult but not...

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    Week in Review: DRC, Ethiopia and crime of aggression,
    16.12.17
    François Sergent and Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo

    In the Democratic Republic of Congo, a military court sitting in the little town of Kavumu struck a historic blow for transitional justice in a place where sexual violence and powerful people generally go unpunished. The week also saw an important verdict for Ethiopia and a move to give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over “aggression”.   “It was a historic verdict pronounced on Wednesday December 13 by a military court in South Kivu, eastern DR Congo, in the trial of some 20 members of the Army of Jesus militia (Jeshi la Yesu in Swahili) accused of rape and murder,” writes...

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    Week in Review: ICC debates “crime of aggression” as Yemen suffers and Croatia denies
    09.12.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    The International Criminal Court’s annual meeting of 123 member countries started this week at the United Nations in New York. This year’s Assembly of States Parties (ASP) is discussing, among other things, whether the "crime of aggression" will be added to the ICC’s jurisdiction alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. This debate is not just academic and legal. The "crime of aggression" -- i.e. one country aggressing another -- divides both ICC member and non-member States, because it could mean the indictment of State leaders in cases like Russia’s war in Georgia...

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    Children’s drawings as evidence of war crimes
    01.12.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    “Deflagrations: Children’s drawings and adult wars”, a book published by Anamosa, recounts war in 150 children’s drawings. The book is accompanied by an exhibition until December 16 at the André Malraux médiathèque in Strasbourg. This is a beautiful book which appeals for peace. Colourless corpses, huts on fire, columns of refugees, bombing, fear and sadness. The 150 drawings put together by Zérane Girardeau tell of war through children’s eyes. The book “ Déflagrations, dessins d’enfants, guerre d’adultes”, published by Anamosa, reproduces a century of children’s drawings during war, the...

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    UN countries must press Sri Lanka on justice, say NGOs
    15.11.17
    Julia Crawford, JusticeInfo.Net

    International jurists of the Sri Lanka Monitoring and Accountability Panel (MAP)  say Sri Lanka’s government has made no credible progress on its transitional justice commitments, and are urging the international community to get tough. This comes as Human Rights Watch also called Wednesday for countries at the UN Human Rights Council to press Sri Lanka on time-bound reforms ensuring justice for serious crimes committed during the civil war that ended in 2009. The war, which pitted majority Buddhist Sinhalese of the south against minority Hindu Tamils of the north and east, left at least...

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    Week in Review: ICC says no to Burundi impunity, DRC starts historic rape trial
    12.11.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The International Criminal Court’s decision to investigate crimes committed in Burundi, announced on Thursday, was the highlight of this transitional justice week.  This ICC decision came just two days before Burundi’s withdrawal from the Court became effective on October 27. It is the first country to pull out of the ICC. The ICC Prosecutor had opened a preliminary examination into crimes committed in Burundi before Bujumbura announced it was leaving the Rome Statute. “By quitting membership of the Court, Bujumbura thought it would secure impunity,” writes our ICC correspondent Stéphanie...

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    ICC targets Burundi regime crimes
    10.11.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) has approved a full investigation into serious crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015, it announced on Thursday. This investigation will look into suspected crimes against humanity committed by the Burundian regime. The decision was taken on October 25, just two days before Burundi’s official withdrawal from the ICC. By quitting membership of the Court, Bujumbura thought it would secure impunity. The Court has said otherwise. Those in power in Bujumbura have now got a long-awaited answer from the ICC, which says the perpetrators of crimes against...

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    Week in Review: Afghanistan and the ICC, step back for transitional justice in Tunisia
    04.11.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This week has reflected the different faces of transitional justice as it hesitates, moves forward and sometimes moves back.   The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced on Friday that she will request Court approval to launch investigations into crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003. Fatou Bensouda is targeting the Taliban and Afghan security forces and – in what is clearly the most politically sensitive part of the case -- CIA secret prisons and the US army. The US, which is not an ICC member State, has, like its Afghan allies, done everything to stop this...

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    ICC Prosecutor targets Taliban and US crimes in Afghanistan
    04.11.17
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is about to ask Court permission to investigate crimes committed in Afghanistan and secret CIA prisons in Europe, she announced on November 3. “In due course, I will file my request for judicial authorisation to open an investigation, submitting that there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan,” says a statement from Bensouda. It took just four days for ICC President Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi to designate the three judges...

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    Burundi and ICC: Chronicle of a divorce foretold
    30.10.17
    Louis-Marie Nindorera (Bujumbura)

     Burundi's withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered into force on October 27, 2017. It is the final act of a divorce proceeding that began well before it was formally notified to the UN Secretary-General, twelve months ago. Indeed, the circumstances under which in 2004, Burundi ratified the Rome statute had already the appearance of a marriage of convenience doomed to fail, at the first couple quarrel. Be that as it may, by becoming the first state to exit the ICC, Burundi is also opening the blank page of this Court's jurisprudence on the effects...

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    Week in Review: CAR's challenges, a trial for Ethiopia, and Burundi withdraws from the ICC
    29.10.17
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    A highlight of this week in transitional justice was the visit of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to the Central African Republic (CAR).  In this fragile state ravaged by war, Guterres spoke up for the rule of law, the UN mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) and for justice rather than impunity. He had trouble convincing his Central African audience, which doubts MINUSCA’s impartiality and sees it as being on the side of CAR President Ange-Félix Touadera. The CAR is a country which “a group of criminals is trying to descend into Hell”, the UN Secretary General said on Thursday as he visited...

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    Burundi becomes first nation to leave ICC
    27.10.17
    AFP

    Burundi on Friday became the first ever nation to leave the International Criminal Court, set up some 15 years ago to prosecute those behind the world's worst atrocities. "Burundi's withdrawal from the Rome Statute will take effect on Friday, 27 October 2017," an ICC spokesperson told AFP. The move comes a year to the day after Bujumbura officially notified the United Nations that it was quitting the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal. Burundi on Friday hailed it as a "historic" day and called on people to demonstrate across the country on Saturday in celebration. "The ICC...

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