Posts Tagged ‘International Criminal Court’

US NGOs react furiously to visa restrictions imposed on ICC investigators by Trump administration

March 16, 2019

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced new visa restrictions in a press briefing on Friday. (Photo: U.S. State Department)

Human rights defenders expressed outrage on Friday after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that the Trump administration is revoking or denying visas for any International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel who try to investigate or prosecute U.S. officials or key allies for potential war crimes. The move, Pompeo confirmed is a direct response to ongoing efforts by the ICC to probe allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity tied to the war in Afghanistan. There was an immediate and almost unanimous outcry by the key human rights NGOs in the USA:

Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU‘s Human Rights Program (the ACLU currently represents Khaled El Masri, Suleiman Salim, and Mohamed Ben Soud, who were all detained and tortured in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008): “This is an unprecedented attempt to skirt international accountability for well-documented war crimes that haunt our clients to this day,” Dakwar said. “It reeks of the very totalitarian practices that are characteristic of the worst human rights abusers, and is a blatant effort to intimidate and retaliate against judges, prosecutors, and advocates seeking justice for victims of serious human rights abuses.”

Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, called it “an outrageous effort to bully the court and deter scrutiny of U.S. conduct.” He encouraged ICC member countries to “publicly make clear that they will remain undaunted in their support for the ICC and will not tolerate U.S. obstruction.”

Daniel Balson, advocacy director at Amnesty International USA, noted that this is just “the latest attack on international justice and international institutions by an administration hellbent on rolling back human rights protections.” Visa bans, as Balson pointed out, are “powerful tools typically reserved for the most serious of human rights abusers.” But rather than targeting global criminals, the Trump administration has set its sights on the ICC—an impartial judicial body that aims to promote accountability under international law by probing and prosecuting crimes of aggression, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.

The move is “is highly indicative of [the administration’s] culture of disregard for rights abuses,” said Balson. “Throwing roadblocks in front of the ICC’s investigation undermines justice not only for abuses committed in Afghanistan, but also for the millions of victims and survivors throughout the world who have experienced the most serious crimes under international law.

Pompeo’s announcement came after John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser and a longtime critic of the ICC, threatened to impose sanctions on court officials in September if they continued to pursue an investigation of potential crimes by U.S. civilians or military personnel in Afghanistan….”These visa restrictions may also be used to deter ICC efforts to pursue allied personnel, including Israelis, without allies’ consent,” Pompeo added. “Implementation of this policy has already begun.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/03/15/blatant-effort-intimidate-and-retaliate-pompeo-imposes-visa-ban-icc-staff-probing-us

See also later development: https://ca.reuters.com/article/topNews/idCAKCN1R328X-OCATP

In memoriam Oby Theodora Nwankwo, Nigerian activist for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and women’s rights

January 24, 2018

African human rights defenders defend the ICC against attacks by their governments

July 6, 2016

Human rights defenders from across Africa clarify misconceptions about the International Criminal Court (ICC) and highlight the need for African governments to support the court in a video released on 6 July 2016 by 21 African and international nongovernmental organizations. [see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/11/18/the-fight-against-impunity-for-international-crimes-in-africa-no-free-pass-for-leaders-say-human-rights-defenders/]

In January 2016, the African Union (AU) gave its Open-Ended Committee of African Ministers on the ICC a mandate to develop a “comprehensive strategy” on the ICC, including considering the withdrawal of African member countries from the court. The committee met in April and agreed on three conditions that needed to be met by the ICC in order for the AU to agree not to call on African countries to withdraw from the court. These include a demand for immunity from ICC prosecution for sitting heads of state and other senior government officials – which is contrary to a fundamental principle of the court.

Human rights defenders from across Africa highlight the need for African governments to support the International Criminal Court in a video by 21 African and international nongovernmental organizations. The video features 12 African activists who raise concerns about AU actions toward the ICC.

It is not clear if the AU will consider any of the open-ended committee’s assessments and recommendations at its upcoming summit in Kigali, Rwanda, from 10 – 18 July.

The reasons why we supported the establishment of a permanent court as Africa have not changed,” says Stella Ndirangu of the International Commission of Jurists-Kenya. “The only thing that has changed is that now leaders are being held to account.”

To say that the ICC is targeting Africa, I think, is a misrepresentation of the situation,” says Angela Mudukuti of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre. “It’s more Africans making use of the court they helped to create.”

Six out of the nine African situations under ICC investigation came about as a result of requests or grants of jurisdictions by African governments – Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Uganda, and the Central African Republic twice. Two other investigations in Africa, the Darfur region of Sudan and Libya, were referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council. In Kenya, the ICC prosecutor received the authorization of an ICC pretrial chamber to open investigations after Kenya repeatedly failed to investigate the 2007-08 post-election violence domestically. In January, the ICC prosecutor opened the court’s first investigation outside Africa, into Georgia, and is conducting several preliminary examinations of situations outside Africa – including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Palestine, and alleged crimes attributed to the armed forces of the United Kingdom deployed in Iraq.

The recommendations from the open-ended committee are the latest development in a backlash against the ICC from some African leaders, which has focused on claims that the ICC is “unfairly targeting Africa.” The backlash first intensified following the ICC’s 2009 arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan for serious crimes committed in Darfur. While blanket immunity for sitting heads of state is available in some domestic jurisdictions, it has never been available before international criminal courts dealing with grave crimes. The AU, in 2015, adopted a protocol to give its continental court authority to prosecute grave crimes, but also, in a controversial provision, grants immunity for sitting heads of states and other senior government officials. That protocol will need 15 ratifications before coming into force, but has yet to be ratified by any country.

The video is endorsed by the following organizations that are part of an informal group that works to promote support for justice for grave crimes in Africa and beyond:

Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (Ghana)
African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (Uganda)
Africa Legal Aid
Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (Sierra Leone)
Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (Malawi)
Children Education Society (Tanzania)
Club des Amis du Droit du Congo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Burundi)
Coalition for the International Criminal Court (Global)
DefendDefenders – East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project
Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Homme
Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (Uganda)
Human Rights Watch
International Commission of Jurists (Kenya)
Kenya Human Rights Commission
Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice
Legal Defense and Assistance Project (Nigeria)
Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court
Réseau Justice Et Développement (Togo)
Southern Africa Litigation Centre
Southern Africa Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (Zambia)

 

Source: AU: Activists Challenge Attacks on ICC | Human Rights Watch

Maina Kiai explains in images how 2013 elections in Kenya aided impunity

May 5, 2015

On 14 April 2015 Inform Action Kenya published this fairly long (1 hour) but informative video: “Kenya: A Guidebook to Impunity”. Human rights defender, Maina Kiai, looks at how the disputed 2013 election was used to protect political icon, President Uhuru Kenyatta, from crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court. The events have left hundreds of thousands of victims without hope of justice and disappointed human rights defenders who took tremendous risks to try and bring the perpetrators to account.

2nd The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders & Security now open for application

March 30, 2015

After the successes of the first course in December 2014, Justice and Peace Netherlands will host the second edition of the The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders on Security from 16-25 June 2015.

20 Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) from around the world will be invited to The Hague where Justice and Peace will facilitate the strengthening of their knowledge and skills on security issues and the building of their international networks. This training aims to reduce the vulnerabilities of the participants, thereby improving their security as well as the security of their families and the organisations they work for in their home countries.

The themes of the course include:

  • physical and digital security,
  • international guidelines and protection mechanisms,
  • functioning of the International Criminal Court (including a visit),
  • social media activism,
  • advocacy and policy influencing, and
  • working within repressive regimes.

Justice and Peace will also conduct a ‘Training of Trainers’ and a network event which will enable the HRDs to develop 1-to-1 relationships with parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and scientists who might be able to advocate and support their cause in the future.

Entry requirements:

  • The participants should work as a Human Rights Defender (HRD) and work for a human rights organisation or an organisation promoting peace or social justice.
  • The HRD should implement a non-violent approach in his or her work.
  • The HRD should have adequate skills to communicate in English.
  • The HRD will organise a training for at least 5 colleagues and/or partners to share the knowledge that was gained during the training within three months of the ‘The Hague Training Course.’

Online application form here or go to justiceandpeace.nl and follow the links to the THTC page. Deadline: 13 April 2015.

via Call for Applications The Hague Training Course for Human Rights Defenders on Security now OPEN!.

North Korea: the UN report in images

February 20, 2014

There was considerable attention in the media for the new United Nation report that has found that crimes against humanity are occurring in North Korea and calls for an international tribunal to investigate and hold perpetrators to account, but you may have missed the 14-minute video produced by Human Rights Watch on 17 February 2014. The report, by a UN Commission of Inquiry appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in March 2013, recommends that the UN Security Council refer the situation in North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights carry out investigations. The three person commission, which was chaired by Australian jurist Michael Kirby, will formally present its findings to the Human Rights Council on or around March 17, 2014. The council will then consider a resolution to act on the commission’s recommendations.

The fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa: No ‘Free Pass’ for leaders say Human Rights Defenders

November 18, 2013

Today, 18 November, a group of 14 Africa-based NGOs came out with a strong statement supporting the ICC which has its annual meeting coming up 20-28 November in the Hague: “African governments should reject special exemptions for sitting officials before the International Criminal Court (ICC)“, African organizations and international organizations with a presence in Africa said in a document released today. The ICC faces important challenges in Africa. In October the African Union said that the trials of Kenya’s president and vice president, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto, should be suspended

Read the rest of this entry »

Kenya: Human Rights Defenders under attack but continue to speak out against skipping the ICC

October 15, 2013

Yesterday, 15 October, the Kenyan police arrested seven members of Bunge la Mwananchi on suspicion of illegal assembly as they were protesting a tax increase on commodities. Amongst those arrested was human rights defender Ruth Mumbi. Read the rest of this entry »

ICC should continue its work in Africa, says Tutu in N.Y.Times

October 14, 2013

While 130 NGOs in Africa and elsewhere call in a joint letter to the African Union not to abandon the International Criminal Court, Bishop Desmond Tutu publishes in the New York Times of 10 October an excellent piece explaining why it is a terrible mistake. Here is it is in full:

 

CAPE TOWN — MEMBERS of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C. Read the rest of this entry »

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies assesses UN Human Rights Council latest session

October 4, 2013

Looking back at the 24th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council which came to an end last Friday, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies  [CIHRS] is disappointed to see how timid the Council becomes when dealing with human rights in the Arab region. Indeed, the people of Syria, Sudan, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, and Yemen need all the support they can get to move their countries towards political stability and the rule of law. The Council should be a driving force in confronting cases of human rights violations and making recommendations to address them.

CIHRS notes with regret Read the rest of this entry »