Category Archives: International Criminal Court

Suspected War Criminal Arrested in Central African Republic, Transferred to ICC

Alfred Yekatom makes first appearance before the ICC
Credit: ICC-CPI via Flickr

Alfred Yekatom, the first person to be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the Court’s investigation into crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012, made an initial appearance before the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on November 23. [ICC Press Release: Alfred; FIDH] Mr. Yekatom is alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity between December 2013 and August 2014 in the context of the CAR’s ongoing conflict between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka armed groups. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom] Yekatom is accused of having commanded an anti-balaka group that carried out killings, torture, forced displacement of Muslim civilians and looting and destruction of Muslim homes and places of worship, in western CAR. CAR authorities delivered Yekatom to the ICC on November 17 in compliance with the ICC’s November 11 warrant for his arrest. [ICC Press Release: Situation] On April 30, 2019, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations against him and, if so, to transfer his case to the Trial Chamber. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom]

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ICC Seeks Victim Participation in Palestine Situation

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
Credit: ICC via Flickr

Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial chamber ordered the ICC to establish a system of disseminating public information to and conducting outreach activities with the affected communities and victims of the situation in Palestine, a situation currently undergoing preliminary examination at the Court. The decision recognizes victims’ right to be heard in the context of the ICC’s work, and requires that outreach activities explain the ICC’s jurisdiction with regards to the situation in Palestine; provide information on the Court, including on the role of victims at each stage of proceedings; and respond to victims’ concerns. See ICC, Situation in the State of Palestine, ICC-01/18, Decision on Information and Outreach for the Victims of the Situation, 13 July 2018, paras. 14-16. The pre-trial chamber’s order marks the first time that the Court has promoted information and outreach activities as early as the preliminary examination stage. [Al Jazeera]

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ICC Orders Reparations for Destruction of Timbuktu Cultural Sites

The former site of a mausoleum in Timbuktu that was destroyed in 2012
Credit: UN Photo/Marco Dormino

On August 17, 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a Reparations Order in the case of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who in September 2016, upon pleading guilty to the destruction of 10 religious and historic sites in Timbuktu, Mali, was sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment. [ICC Press Release; IJRC] In its Reparations Order, Trial Chamber VIII of the ICC found Al Mahdi liable for 2.7 million euros (or approximately 3.18 million USD) in both individual and collective reparations for the community affected by the 2012 attacks, which occurred in the context of Mali’s internal armed conflict. [ICC Press Release] The Court, emphasizing the cultural and sentimental value of the destroyed property, ordered reparations for three categories of harm: damage to the targeted buildings, resulting economic loss, and moral harm. [ICC Press Release] The reparations are designed to rehabilitate the attacked sites, address the community’s financial losses, and potentially fund symbolic measures, such as memorials, to serve as public recognition of the harms incurred by the Timbuktu community. [ICC Press Release] Given Al Mahdi’s indigence, the Court encourages the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), an agency that will implement the order, to supplement the reparations to the extent possible. [ICC Press Release; Guardian] Read more

UN Reports Civilian Casualties, Rights Abuses Remain High in Afghanistan

Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of UNAMA, at the UN Security Council
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

On July 17, 2017, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its mid-year report on the situation of civilians in Afghanistan, revealing that the level of civilian casualties remains high. [UNAMA Press Release] UNAMA confirmed a total of 5,243 civilian casualties (1,662 deaths and 3,581 injured) from January 1 to June 30, 2017, which represents a decrease of less than one percent from the same period in 2016, but reported an increase in deaths. See UNAMA, Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Mid-Year Report 2017 (2017), at 3. The number of women and children killed and injured has increased this year, despite a decline in women and children casualties in 2016. [UNAMA Press Release] Civilian casualties in the first half of the year were primarily the result of anti-government forces’ use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), such as suicide bombs, in civilian-populated areas. See UNAMA, Afghanistan Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Mid-Year Report 2017, at 3–4. Medical facilities and schools continue to be targeted, impeding Afghans’ access to health care and education. See id. at 13, 17–19.

In consideration of its findings, UNAMA recommends that anti-government forces stop targeting civilians, that government forces stop using weapons such as mortars and rockets that can have devastating effects in civilian areas, and that international militaries support and train Afghanistan’s national army, among other recommendations. [UNAMA Press Release] In a statement recognizing the high rates of death and injury recorded in the report, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that the statistics on casualties do not depict the full extent of the loss and suffering, such as psychological trauma and displacement. [OHCHR Press Release] Afghanistan is a State party to the Rome Statute, Geneva Conventions, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and, therefore, the State must refrain from targeting civilians during non-international armed conflict and respect and protect the right to life.

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ICC: South Africa’s Failure to Arrest Sudanese President Violates Rome Statute

Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released via Wikimedia Commons

In its decision of July 6, 2017, a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held that South Africa violated its obligations under the Rome Statute by failing to comply with an ICC request to arrest and turn over to ICC custody Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on multiple counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in relation to the conflcit in Darfur. [ICC Press Release] Al-Bashir was in South Africa for a meeting of the African Union from June 13–15, 2015. [ICC Press Release] Despite its conclusion, the Court elected not to refer South Africa’s non-compliance to either the Assembly of States Parties – the legislative body of the ICC – or the United Nations Security Council, citing the fact that South African courts have already disposed of the matter. [ICC Press Release] The referrals, the Court said, are unnecessary to obtain cooperation from South Africa. [ICC Press Release] This decision could have implications for al-Bashir and others wanted by the ICC as they decide whether and where to travel. [New York Times] Since the issuance of his first arrest warrant in 2009, al-Bashir has managed to travel internationally to Asia and within Africa, but has strategically avoided the United States and Western European countries where he faces a greater risk of arrest. [New York Times] Read more

News Clips- July 7, 2017

Judges of the ICC find that South Africa failed to meet its obligation to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir to the Court
Credit: ICC

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, Turkish police arrested nine human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director, Idli Eser. [BBC News]
  • On Thursday, a student activist in Hong Kong pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge related to his participation in pro-democracy protests in 2014. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Sunday, anti-G20 summit protesters clashed with local police in Hamburg, Germany. [Guardian]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, civil society reported that murder, torture, rape, severe hunger, and cholera outbreaks in South Sudan have led to major crises in the region. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, the Syrian army announced a temporary halt to combat operations in support of peace talks set to take place in Kazakhstan. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, five suicide bombs and a hand grenade were used to attack Lebanese soldiers during raids of two Syrian refugee camps in Arsal, Lebanon. [Reuters]
  • According to United Nation’s data released last Friday, at least 55 UN peacekeepers were accused of sexual abuse during UN Missions since January 2017. [Al Jazeera]

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga, an opposition candidate, announced that they will not participate in the upcoming presidential debates due to a change in format. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, the German parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. [Guardian]

International Criminal Law

  • On Thursday, the International Criminal Court found that South Africa breached its obligation to deliver Omar Al-Bashir to the Court. [ICC Press Release]
  • On Monday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated there is a “reasonable basis” to conclude that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by United States troops, the Taliban, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. [BBC News]

News Clips- June 16, 2017

The United Nations Security Council discusses the situation in Somalia
Credit: UN Photo/Kim Haughton

Civil Society

  • On Monday, courts in Russia began sentencing anti-corruption demonstrators arrested during protests led by an opposition leader. [Guardian]
  • On Tuesday, the parliament of Hungary approved regulations requiring certain foreign-funded civil society groups to register with the government. [Al Jazeera]

International Criminal Law

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, 23 people were detained during an overnight raid in Venezuela for their alleged involvement in attacks against officers. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, 31 people died during a siege of a restaurant in Mogadishu, Somalia, which was orchestrated by al-Shabab. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Friday, 14 people were killed in clashes over food aid in Somalia. [Washington Post]

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

  • On Thursday, an aid organization rescued 420 migrants off the coast of Libya. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, authorities in Niger estimated that in the past week they rescued more than 100 migrants abandoned by traffickers. [Reuters]

Activities of International Human Rights Bodies and Experts

News Clips – May 12, 2017

Fatou Bensouda addresses the United Nations Security Council
Credit: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, five LGBT activists in Russia were detained while trying to submit a petition, requesting an investigation into the crackdown against gay men in Chechnya. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, Xie Yang, a human rights lawyer in China, was tried for inciting state subversion. [Guardian]
  • This week, the President of Tunisia deployed the army to protect businesses from sit-ins, and other demonstrations, that are protesting unemployment and corruption in the country. [Washington Post]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Thursday, two civilians were killed, and three were injured, during gunfire attacks between Indian and Pakistani soldiers at the Kashmir border. [Washington Post]
  • On Wednesday, a court in Austria convicted a man of war crimes for the murder of 20 wounded Syrian soldiers. [Guardian]
  • On Tuesday, a motorcycle bomb and a car bomb detonated in the Pattani province of Thailand, injuring 40 people. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, a rebel group in the Central African Republic ambushed a United Nations convoy, leaving four United Nations peacekeepers dead. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, a car bomb explosion in Somalia, claimed by Al-Shabab, killed five people and wounded 20 others. [Al Jazeera]

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

  • Over the weekend, two boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea; 250 refugees and migrants remain missing. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, Fatou Bensouda, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced to the United Nations Security Council that the ICC may investigate migrant-related crimes in Libya, such as human trafficking. [UN News Centre]

Politics

  • On Wednesday, Colombia’s congress approved a law that recognizes the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as a legal political party and guarantees FARC five seats in both the senate and lower house. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Wednesday, South Korea elected Moon Jae-in as its next President. [Washington Post]
  • On Sunday, France elected Emmanuel Macron as its next President. [Washington Post]

News Clips- April 28, 2017

The Foreign Ministers of Switzerland and Sweden at a United Nations event on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen
Credit: UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, Palestinians organized a strike, which closed down schools, institutions, and transportation, to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strikes in Israeli jails. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Thursday, 30 people in Turkey were detained and charged with membership in an armed terror organization as a result of their ties to a newspaper that was run by a woman accused of leading a coup attempt in the country. [Washington Post]

Activities of International Bodies

  • On Tuesday, the United Nations and the governments of Sweden and Switzerland held a one-day conference in Geneva, Switzerland focused on the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. [UN News Centre]
  • On Tuesday, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) held that detention conditions in Romanian prisons violated the right to the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment. [Council of Europe]

Migrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

  • On Monday, a migrant boat traveling between Greece and Turkey sunk, killing 16 people. [Washington Post]
  • According to European Union (EU) officials, 23,000 unaccompanied children in Greek and Italian refugee camps are at risk of child abuse, rape, and smuggling. [Guardian]
  • This week, 25,000 people were displaced due to a violent offensive in the Kodok region of South Sudan. [Washington Post]

International Criminal Law

  • On Thursday, an appeals court in Senegal upheld former Chad dictator Hissene Habre’s life sentence for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during his presidency. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) unsealed the warrant of arrest for alleged war criminal Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled for crimes committed in Libya in 2011. [ICC Press Release]

Politics

  • On Wednesday, Venezuelan President Maduro announced Venezuela’s withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS) amid ongoing violent protests in the country. [BBC News]
  • On Monday, Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee approved a law that prohibits discrimination against, and expands protections for, individuals with HIV and AIDS. [Jurist]
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