International Criminal Court (ICC)

    Week in Review: One warlord on trial in the DRC, and one sentenced in the US
    22.04.18
    Ephrem RUGIRIRIZA, JusticeInfo.Net

    The trial of former Congolese militia leader Maro Ntumwa (dubbed the “Moroccan”) by a military tribunal in South Kivu, eastern DRC, opened on April 13 and continued this week. The accused is charged with “rape, sexual slavery, looting, attacks against a civilian population and on religious buildings” committed between 2005 and 2007, reports our correspondent Claude Segenya. “At the time, he was the right-hand man of Bedi Mobuli Engengela, dubbed `Colonel 106`, a former leader of the Mai-Mai militia who has already been convicted by a military court,” he writes. For Sylvestre Bisimwa,...

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    Week in Review: Victims feel ignored in Mali, Gambia and Tunisia
    08.04.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.Net

    The appearance of the former Islamist police chief of Timbuktu (northern Mali) before the International Criminal Court (ICC) was a highlight of this week in transitional justice. “Al Hassan” is suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity and was transferred to the ICC from Mali on March 31. Malian civil society expressed satisfaction at the appearance of this second Jihadist before the ICC. It comes after the ICC’s trial and conviction of Ahmad Al-Faqi Al-Mahdi, alias “Abu Turab”, for the destruction of Timbuktu’s cultural heritage during its occupation by the militant Jihadist...

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    Outsider Peter Lewis voted Registrar to reform the International Criminal Court
    01.04.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    British jurist Peter Lewis was on March 28 elected new Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Unlike his three predecessors, he is not an insider, but has solid experience as a Crown prosecutor in England and Wales. He succeeds Herman von Hebel of the Netherlands and will take up his post on April 16, with a mandate for five years. For the next five years, Peter Lewis will be the key man in the Court’s administration. The 18 ICC judges – of whom six have just been inaugurated – have elected a former British prosecutor to head the Registry. They passed over the favourites: Marc...

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    Ugandan ex-rebel leader not mentally ill, experts tell the ICC
    29.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The first stage of Dominic Ongwen’s trial is coming to an end before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In mid-April, prosecutors will call their last witness, and then it will be the turn of the defence to present its case. Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda. His lawyers, hoping for an acquittal, say he suffers from mental problems. “We all agree that Mr. Ongwen was in a traumatizing environment,” psychiatric expert Catherine Abbo told the Court on March 27 this year. After...

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    Week in Review: ICC withdrawals and fragile transitional justice
    26.03.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    How should the International Criminal Court react after first Burundi and now the Philippines decided to withdraw their membership? Numerous African countries have also threatened to do the same. Since withdrawal from the ICC only becomes effective after a year, ICC procedures with regard to the two countries can continue. Thus neither President Duterte, who is waging a merciless war on suspected drug traffickers, nor President Nkurunziza, accused of widespread and systematic human rights violations, are safe from prosecution.   “Withdrawal does not cancel out ICC judicial procedures,”...

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    As Philippines withdraws, “quality justice” is best shield for ICC
    22.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas,correspondent in The Hague

    After Burundi in 2016, the Philippines decided this March 16 to pull out of the Rome Treaty which created the International Criminal Court (ICC). In both cases, the decision followed announcements by the ICC Prosecutor that she was opening preliminary examinations on alleged crimes committed in those countries, including by their political leaders. The withdrawal decisions come in a specific context which is not linked to the standoff between some states notably in the African Union and the Court. According to a number of experts, recurring threats from states opposed to ICC decisions should...

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    Week in Review: Philippines to quit the ICC, while populism undermines the West
    19.03.18
    Ephrem Rugiririza, JusticeInfo.Net

    At the International Criminal Court (ICC), registrar Herman Von Hebel this week announced that he is withdrawing his candidacy for a new five-year mandate. Von Hebel of the Netherlands had been severely criticized for his financial management of the Court. Twelve candidates remain in the running to succeed him, but a date has not yet been announced for the ICC judges to elect the new registrar. Still on the ICC, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, whose country’s withdrawal from the Court became effective at the end of 2017, now has someone following in his path. His equally...

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    ICC Registrar withdraws candidacy for new mandate
    15.03.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Herman von Hebel, decided on March 13 to withdraw as candidate for a new five-year mandate, JusticeInfo.net has learned. Von Hebel of the Netherlands had been sharply criticized for his management of the Court, especially in the context of the ReVision reform plan, aspects of which were deemed illegal by the administrative tribunal of the International Labour Organization (ILO) at the end of January. In total, these reforms may have cost the Court nearly 7 million Euros.  Twelve candidates are still in the running to succeed him. But...

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    World must act on a litany of crimes, says outgoing Human Rights Commissioner
    08.03.18
    Frédéric Burnand, Geneva correspondent

    Presenting his last annual report to the UN Human Rights Council as High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein highlighted a series of mass crimes needing investigation by commissions of inquiry, referral to the International Criminal Court or other courts able to act under universal jurisdiction. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s four-year mandate ends this summer. And the Jordanian High Commissioner could only present an alarming picture of the human rights situation across all continents. The resurgence of brute force in relations between State powers is rocking a crisis-hit world...

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    ICC under fire for internal mismanagement
    26.02.18
    Stéphanie Maupas, correspondent in The Hague

    The International Criminal Court (ICC) is again under fire for bad governance. In late January the International Labour Organization (ILO) handed down six judgments denouncing the “illegal” nature of steps taken by ICC Registrar Herman von Hebel as part of reforms launched in 2014. This comes as the ICC prepares to elect its next Registrar. Fourteen candidates are running, including the incumbent, Herman von Hebel. The administrative court of the ILO, to which ICC employees had recourse, rendered six decisions on January 24, 2018, finding that the Court should pay material and moral damages...

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    Week in Review: ICC internal management, Tunisia and DRC
    26.02.18
    François Sergent, JusticeInfo.net

    This transitional justice week saw an investigation by our correspondent in The Hague into the administrative problems of the International Criminal Court, whose staff management has been sanctioned. This is a singular situation for a Court that is supposed to represent the law. As the Latin proverb says, “who will watch the watchman”?  “The administrative court of the International Labour Organization (ILO), to which ICC employees had recourse, rendered six decisions on January 24, 2018, finding that the Court should pay material and moral damages after firing several employees,” explains...

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    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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