News

SENSITIZATION PROGRAMME ON THE ROME STATUTE AND ITS RELEVANCE…

On the 19th of July 2018, the NCICC carried out a sensitization programme at the university of Lagos Nigeria to educate the Law and Humanities students on the relevance of the International Criminal Court  to Nigerian Criminal Justice System.

The students were lectured about the origin of the court, crimes and jurisdiction of the  court and the need for the domestic implementation of the Rome Statute Bill into Nigerian  local legislation.

The student numbering about 200 were elated to be part of the programme and asked meaningful questions regarding  the delay in the domestication of the bill and how they can play a part in the fight against impunity in the country.

 

NCICC staff welcomed questions and issued the NCICC tool kit on how to be involved in the fight against impunity using the mercenary of the International Criminal Court.

 

The dean of law faculty professor Atsenua and the public law lecture Dr Karibi Whyte was also present during the programme and showed appreciation to the NCICC for taking their time to educate the students on such an important topic.

Downloads

REPORT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BILL FOR…

18 July, 2018.

In commemorating the Rome Statute, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) partnered with the The House of Representative Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements and  held a public hearing on the Bill for “An Act to provide for the Enforcement and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, Genocide And For Other Related Offences”.

The meeting took place on the 18 July, 2018 at the National Assembly Complex and had in attendance the Honourable Chairman and deputy Honourable Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Honourable Members of the House of Representative, members of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court as well as members of the general public.

The aim of the meeting was to get recommendations and contributions from stakeholders to assist the House Committee in producing a report for the third reading and adoption of the Bill by the National Assembly.

In his opening remark the Chairman of the committee stated that the Bill is in line with sections of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and that there was a need to domesticate the International Conventions and Treaties contained in the Rome Statute through the legislation of the National Assembly in order to give effect to the laws contained in the Statute. He  further explained that certain provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which Nigeria became signatory to in 2001 have not been implemented due to the lack of its domestication as required by the constitution. He concluded his opening remarks by stating that the public hearing will create a platform for stakeholders to make strong recommendations and contribution that will help in pushing the bill to the Upper House of Legislature and ensure the smooth passing of the Bill into law.

Professor of law, Professor Agbo Madaiki in delivering his presentation stated that Public hearing on the Bill to domesticate the Rome Statute could not be coming at a more auspicious time as Nigeria appears to be at the Rubicon and finds it near impossible to go forward or go backward as the stark reality of the senseless killings of thousands of innocent Nigerians is carried out with impunity.

Prof. Madaiki also noted that;

The punishment Clauses recommends the same penalty for similar offences under the Penal Code and Criminal Code, which is the death penalty. He stated that the death penalty has no utilitarian advantage over terms of imprisonment or a life sentence, he recommended Life Imprisonment instead especially being that the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment abolished the death penalty. He also said that the prescribed penalty for offences contained in clauses 10, 11, 12 and 14 which is a term of imprisonment of two year is too liberal and mild.

He further went on to say that Clause 17 [3] of the Statute which 2
state that it is not a defence for a person charged with an offence to plead that the act constituting the offence was committed in obedience to the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence clearly violates Section 36[8] of the Constitution which states that no person shall be held guilty of a criminal offence on any account of an act or omission that did not at the time it took place, constitute such an offence. He concluded by stating that the Bill when passed into law will achieve two objectives which is safeguarding higher values such as the protection of human rights and ensuring the accountability of those responsible for the commission of internal crimes in and outside Nigeria.

The Sponsor of the Bill, Honourable Nicholas Ossai represented by his Senior Special Assistant,Barr. Chris Agidy, giving a synopsis of the Bill stated that the aim of the Bill is to provide a formation for the enforcement and punishment of the international crimes and  that domestication of the Rome Statute provides a network of corporation between Nigeria and the International Criminal Court to ensure the effective prosecution of international crimes committed in Nigeria or outside Nigeria, and also provides special victims trust fund to assist victims and survivors of international crimes in Nigeria which should be overseen by the National Assembly.  He concluded by appealing to the Committee Chairman and other members of the House to ensure that the Bill is given a smooth passage.

Mr. John Ozoeri representing the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, in his presentation stated that the importance of domesticating the Bill into our municipal laws cannot be overemphasized because the National courts are the only place where a common man can go to get justice, he added that the domestication of the Bill will therefore give hope to victims and Nigerians to go to court for the enforcement of their rights and applauded the efforts of the sponsor of the bill and the Honourable House of Representative for having successfully completed the first and second reading of the Bill and hopes that the Bill will see the light of the day.

Dr. Martin Ejidike, Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Resident Coordinator, during his presentation  stated that the ICC is created by the international committee of states, to investigate, prosecute and try individuals for the international crimes of Genocide, Crimes against humanity, war crimes and Crime of aggression. He added that the ICC is complementary to national criminal jurisdiction to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity are prosecuted accordingly. He noted that the ICC prosecutes international crimes only when the state concern is genuinely unable or unwilling to prosecute them. He went further to say  that when Nigeria ratified the Rome Statute in 2001 a rapid implementation was expected but this was not to be as there have so far been three failed attempts to domesticate the treaty and hopes that this public hearing will achieve the desired response. He reiterated on the importance of the domestication of the Bill which he said will give credence to the strong support Nigeria offered to counter efforts within the African Union to secure a general withdrawal from the ICC. He further stated that Nigeria owes a constitution and treaty responsibility to domesticate the Rome Statute and it is hoped that the public hearing will also aid the fulfillment of this constitutional responsibility.

 

Dr. Martin noted that the President of Nigeria in his preliminary address on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague urged states that are yet to sign the Rome statute to do so as a matter of deliberate state policy, he then pointed out that is therefore only expected that Nigeria will do its part by domesticating the treaty and  concluded by saying that Nigeria should also be persuaded on the need for domestication by the fact that the current president of the ICC is a worthy son of Nigeria and added that it will also be a worthy 20th anniversary present to the ICC during the presidency of a son of Nigeria. He stated further that as Nigeria prepare for the elections in 2019 it is prudent that Nigeria concludes the domestication of the statute in other to put trouble maker as to what awaits. He urged the House of Representative and the Nigerian government to give the Bill the utmost attention it needs.

Mr. Daniel from Access to Justice stated that under the Bill, the Attorney General of the Federation is saddled with the responsibility of acting on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of all obligations imposed on state parties by the Rome statute and the procurement of the consent of the Attorney General is a pre-condition to the commencement of action against persons who commit international crimes of the nature outlined in the Rome Statute. He however stated that, if that provision is retained, there will be very little chance that prosecutions for violation of the ICC Statute will likely take place and most likely actions that are taken to secure some political advantage for a government in power will never be questioned. He stated further that the proposed legislation undermines itself by making the consent of the Attorney General a prerequisite for the institution of action against persons suspected of committing international crimes. He concluded by saying that even though he is unable to proffer the best of solutions to the problems he has highlighted, suggestion can be made that the Bill could contain provisions to the effect that where the Attorney General fails to give consent to a proposed prosecution, other institutions could review his decision or commence action on his behalf. He also suggested that in the event of the Attorney General refusing to prosecute, the rationale behind his refusal should be disclosed and made the subject of review by a impartial body possibly a judicial one.

Mr. Benson Olugbo of Cleen Foundation, in his presentation stated that under article 17 of the Rome Statute which provides for the principle of complimentarity, it states that the jurisdiction of the international criminal court will only be activated if the national courts are unable to do so. He also pointed out that the punishment in section 11-14 which talks about corruption should be increased from two years otherwise offenders will be encouraged to continue. He further stated that the section in the Bill which gives the Attorney General the power to give consent before prosecution should be expunged and instead the DPP be given that responsibility being that the attorney general is a political appointment and the DPP is a career civil servant. He further talked about Article 93 which provides for a Victims Trust Fund and noted that we already have a Victims Trust Fund in Nigeria, He also aligned with previous speakers that the death sentence in Section4(2)(b) be looked into as Nigeria is gradually moving away from death sentences. He concluded with saying Section 3 of the Bill which makes mention of trial of offenders in absentia should also be looked into as the Nigeria Judicial system does not recognise trial in absentia.

 

Mr. Olaniyi Omodara from the National Human Rights Commission commended the National Assembly and the Committee for this laudable task and noted that the passage of the Bill into law will further enhance the enjoyment of human rights in Nigeria. He observed that there were some typographical errors in the Bill which if not properly corrected may give a different meaning to the intentions of the legislators, he stated that the punishment of 30years sentencing as contained in the Bill for where death occurs by accident is outrageous and asked that the term of 30years be reviewed but in situations where the crimes are committed intentionally then the death penalty contained Penal Code and the Criminal Code may apply. He commented on the sections provided for punishment and on whether the terms of punishment is commensurate to the offences mentioned, he stated that the purpose of imprisonment is not to punish but to reform and to bring people back to the society as better citizens

Professor Joy Ezielo in her speech stated that the Bill ensures that human rights and humanitarian law is not contradictory to criminal justice system .She noted that there are some definition lapses in the Bill i.e there is no specific definition of what constitute crimes against humanity, there is also no definition of trafficking of persons or rape, she pointed out that the meaning of torture as contained in the Bill has to come within the UN Convention against Torture.

 

On the issue of Accountability- She stated that sometimes the problem in Nigeria isn’t just lack of laws but lack administration of criminal justice, she pointed out that in as much as punishment has to be proportionate and is also meant to serve as a deterrent she is of the opinion that there shouldn’t be a minimum sentencing for punishment.

On the issue of Victims of survivors-she stated that there should be a mechanism put in place for protection of victims which will also help the rehabilitation and redress of these victims.

Mrs. Chinyere Efobi ,Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs talked about Part IV Section 22(2) which confers jurisdiction on the State High court, she stated that it will be best if the Federal High Court can be conferred with absolute jurisdiction to try offence under that section as the Federal High Court exercises jurisdiction over every state in Nigeria, also being that only the DPP prosecutes after the  Attorney General gives his consent under the Bill it is only advisable that the Federal High Court exercises absolute jurisdiction as the DPP prosecutes mostly in the Federal High Court.

Mr. Voke Ighorodjie from Reeds Center stated that we have a collective responsibility to see to the smooth passage of the Bill, in his brief statement he stated that impunity has become the norm in the society, the Bill is to therefore foster accountability and deterrence. He reiterated the need to ensure the Bill is passed into law before the election fever begins and also with a son of Nigeria being the president of the ICC.

Mr. Segun Jegede spoke on the issue regarding the jurisdiction of the High Court and the Federal High Court, and stated that a special court should be created to try international crimes to avoid situations of conflicting decisions being reached by the different court. He further stated that a witness protection system should be put in place.

 

Deputy Minority Speaker, Chukwuka Onyema Wilfred, representing the Speaker of the House of Representative in his statement stated that the Bill will give effect to the provisions of right to life in section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He stated that the contributions from stakeholders present will go a long way in helping the Bill scale through and urged everyone to put all hands on deck.

The Chairman of the Committee in his speech stated that the criminal offences of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are requisite part of domestic legislation where a state wishes to prosecute persons for atrocities committed in the course of conflict. He added that these offences have been long recognised as crimes under international law but have not been incorporated into National Legislation, he went further to say that the referral of the bill to the committee for further legislative action is a clear indication of the firm resolve of the house to faithfully implement its legislative Agenda and social contract with their constituents. He concluded by commending the House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara for his proactive efforts and commitment in effecting legislations that will directly impact on the security life of all citizens as guaranteed in the constitution. He assured everyone that the committee is open to any idea from stakeholders and will appreciate and critically examine every input and recommended ideas that will be of benefit to the Nigerian people.

 

Mr.Joel Agah,a member of the NCICC in his brief speech stated that when the community captures the perpetrators of these crimes and hand them over to security agents nothing is heard of it anymore, he insisted that this is so because the security agency protects the offenders and stated that there should be no protection for offenders.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Mr. Chinonye Obiagwu in giving the final speech for the day stated the NCICC is ready to assist the committee in preparing its reports, he stated that there is a gender and technical unit within the NASS which can assist the committee in putting down everything said in this meeting and also resource persons from the NCICC that can be of great assistance, speaking on the provisions of the Bill he stated that there is a need to harmonize the Bill with other existing laws to avoid conflicts and there should be a cross reference between laws.  He also pointed out that the definition of torture in the Bill be revised to reflect the definition of torture as contained in the Torture Act.

 

 

On the issue of sentencing he stated that rather than putting minimum sentencing for punishments maximum sentencing should be used.

Speaking on Section 93 of the Bill which speaks of establishment of Victims Trust Fund, Mr. Obiagwu opined that the Victims Trust Fund should be a creation of statute so that report on it can be made directly to the National Assembly, he also stated that the government should take advantage of section 93 of the Bill and include social funds which most times go unaccounted into the Victims Trust Funds.

Lastly on the issue of Jurisdiction, he stated that the State High Courts and the Federal High Court be allowed to have jurisdiction to try the offences as the Act which provides for the definition of crime included both the State High Courts and the Federal High Courts. He stated also that offences committed in the states can be tried in the States High Courts and offences to be prosecuted by the Federal High Court can as well be tried by the Federal High Court.

In conclusion he thanked the Committee once again and reiterated his support for the Bill he added if any assistance from the United Nations is needed, Dr. Martin Ejidike from the United Nations will be available to render such support.

 

News

House Committee in Partnership with NCICC Hold Public Hearing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreement on Wednesday in Abuja began a public hearing on a “bill for an act to provide for enforcement and punishment of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and for other related offences”.

Press Releases

NCICC CELEBRATES THE ROME STATUTE @20

 

 

Released Date 16th July, 2018

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) joins the rest of the world in the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute.

 

The Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court vested the court with power to exercise jurisdiction over international crimes to wit genocides, crimes against humanity, war crime and crime of aggression. The International Criminal Court has so far recorded 26cases, issued 32 arrest warrants and made verdict in 6cases with 8conviction and 2 acquittals, the most recent being that of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

 

The NCICC emphasize that in the rise of global violations of humanitarian laws and human right, there is no better time to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) than now. To ensure a more just world, it is important for states to foster cooperation with the ICC by domesticating and implementing the Rome Statute’s provision of complementarity in their national legislation and prosecute international crimes committed within their territory.

 

Despite Nigeria being listed as a preliminary examination country due to the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian Securities and different crimes committed in the Niger Delta region, the country continues to face more violations of human right and crimes violating international law. It is imperative at this time for Nigerian government to stand up for justice, domesticate the Rome Statute and prosecute these gross and frequent violations.

As President Buhari attends the event of the Rome Statute at 20, we urge the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda to engage the president on the continued killing in the North Central and North East region and the non-accountability on the part of the state security.

 

Nigeria though a state party of the International Criminal Court has since the submission of  its instrument of ratification on the 27th September 2001 fail to domesticate the Rome Statute into its national legislation in accordance with the provision of section 12 of the 1999 Constitution.

 

The NCICC calls on the Nigerian government to join in the fight against impunity and domesticate the Rome Statute and further reiterates the need for the National Assembly to expedite the domestication of the Rome Statute bill which comes up for public hearing on the 18th of July 2018.

 

Signed

 

Edmund Chinonye Obiagwu

Chair, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court                                                                                

 

Dr Abiola Akiode -Afolabi

Vice Chair, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court

 

 

NCICC Blog

Court Jails Kabiru Mohammed, 112 Boko Haram Members

The special court designated to try terrorism related cases sitting at the Wawa Military Cantonment in Kainji, Niger State, has sentenced 113 Boko Haram members to jail over their involvement in act of terrorism.

The defendants who were sentenced to various jail terms were arraigned by the federal government, on various charges ranging from membership of the proscribed Boko Haram group, concealing information vital to security agencies, providing support to the sect, participating in acts of terrorism which resulted in the deaths of many persons and murder.

Those sentenced include, one Kabiru Mohammed from Kaban-Magadan, in Funtua, Katsina State. He was accused of receiving training in the use of explosive and other terrorism items.

He was also accused of participating in series of attacks in Bama, kunduga, baga in Borno State and Damaturu in Yobe State, which resulted to lots of deaths in the two states.

According to him, he joined the sect in 2013 and rose to become a leader. He was said to have led others in carrying out attacks as well as instructing them to carry out attack on people and communities.

Mohammed, who disclosed that he voluntarily joined Boko Haram, said that at a time he became tired of the kind of live he was leading and threw away his gun and ran to Katsina State, his home town.
He was arrested in 2015 at a motor park in katsina.

He pleaded guilty to all the 7-count charge and was consequently sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with hard labour on each of the counts, which are to run concurrently from the day of his arrest.

Next is one Adamu Mohammed, 22 years old from Gombe State, who was charged with the murder of six people as well as throwing a bomb at a market place. While he admitted to killing six persons through the use of a short gun, he however claimed he threw the bomb in a river and not in a market place.

He was sentenced to 25 full calendar years with hard labour in a maximum prison and without an option of fine.
Banzana Yusuf, from Kano State, on his part bagged 20yrs for his role in the planning and kidnapping of the Chibok School girls in 2014.

So also is 25 years old Shetima Modu, arraigned on a four-count charge of engaging in terrorism activities.
He admitted participating in attacks on a church in Mala village as well as another attack in Gonuri village where seven people were killed.

One Sabo Kyari Mohammed, who was described by the Department of State Service (DSS) as a “strong member of Boko Haram”, however bagged a jail term of five full calendar years.

Part of his charge include providing surveillance for the group and participating in the attack known as “ operation point and kill” in his village, Musau in Borno State.

He was arrested by men of the Nigerian Army in Jos, Plateau State along with his wife and two children.
In handing down the sentence, the trial judge stated that, though the defendant being a 1st time offender, the court ordinarily ought to have showed him mercy in the judgment, but, “due to the carnage and wanton destruction of lives their action caused society, he is to serve a 5 full calendar years imprisonment.
“ This is to serve as a deterrent to himself and others like him “, the judge held.
Also sentenced is Zainab Idris, wife of Boko Haram commander, Babawo Idris.

Zainab was arrested in 2014 with her two children, while on her way to join her husband in Sambisa forest.
Her husband, popularly known as Idoko or Nagada was number 156 on the military’s wanted list before his arrest last September.

The court sentenced her to 4 years imprisonment for being a member of a proscribed group.
However, the court held that haven been in custody since 2014, it is possible that she has served her jail term and consequently ordered that she be released.

The judge, in addition ordered that she be taking to a rehabilitation center, “ for de-radicalization, and monitored under strict surveillance to avoid going back to Boko Haram”.

The judge advised her to learn a trade at the center so as to become useful to herself, her children and society in future.

However, the case of a notorious member of the sect, Mohammed Zakariya, also known as “Butcher”, could not be taken on the grounds that he was mentally sick.

The court consequently ordered that he be taken to a psychiatric for treatment and adjourned till November 14 for his arraignment.

The special sitting of the court, which held between Monday and Tuesday heard over a hundred cases.
A total of 111 persons were discharged / acquitted or had their cases struck out for lack of evidence to support the charges, while nine others were adjourned to Abuja.

SOURCE:  https://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2018/07/12/court-jails-kabiru-mohammed-112-boko-haram-members/

NCICC Blog

Supreme Court Merges 2 Petitions seeking Philippines withdrawal from…

The Supreme Court (SC) has consolidated two petitions seeking to void the Philippine government’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

With this consolidation, the high court is set to conduct oral arguments for the petitions on Aug. 7 at 2 p.m. at the SC New Session Hall, new SC Building, Padre Faura Street in Manila.

The SC also required the counsels for both parties to attend the preliminary conference for the oral argument on July 31 at the same venue.

The first petition was filed by opposition Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, Leila de Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV filed petition for certiorari and mandamus and said that under Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution, “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least 2/3 of all the members of the Senate.”

Last week, de Lima, one of the petitioners, asked the SC to allow her to participate in the oral arguments.

“This Honorable Court is respectfully asked to take judicial notice of its practice of permitting members of Congress to appear before it and argue their cases,” de Lima said in her four-page manifestation with motion.

The detained senator is the lead counsel for the minority senators.

The lawmakers also asked the high court to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations to notify the United Nations Secretary General that the Philippines is revoking the notice of withdrawal that it received last March 17.

The diplomatic note stated that the “decision to withdraw is the Philippines’ principled stand against those who politicize and weaponize human rights, even as its independent and well-functioning organs and agencies continue to exercise jurisdiction over complaints, issues, problems and concerns arising from its efforts to protect the people.”

The petitioners said the Rome Statute is a treaty validly entered into by the Philippines that has the same status as a law enacted by Congress.

In withdrawing its membership from the ICC, the petitioners claimed that the respondents committed usurpation of legislative powers, which is punishable under the Revised Penal Code.

The second petition was filed by the Philippine Coalition for the International Criminal Court (PCICC) led by former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales.

Named respondents in the petition were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Philippine Ambassador to the UN Teodoro Locsin Jr., and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

The respondents will be represented by the Office of the Solicitor General.

On March 14, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the Philippines’ withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute, a United Nations (UN) treaty creating the ICC.

In the statement, Duterte cited “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks” against him and his administration as the reason for his withdrawal as a state party.

“Given the baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person as well as against my administration, engineered by the officials of the United Nations, as well as the attempt by the International Criminal Court special prosecutor to place my person within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, in violation of due process and the presumption of innocence expressly guaranteed by the Philippine Constitution and recognized no less by the Rome Stature, I therefore declare and forthwith give notice, as President of the Republic of the Philippines, that the Philippines is withdrawing its ratification of the Rome Statute effective immediately,” the President said in a statement.

This came after ICC special prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began a preliminary examination on the alleged human rights violations amid the Duterte administration’s intensified war on drugs. (PNA)

SOURCE; https://www.ptvnews.ph/sc-merges-2-petitions-vs-ph-withdrawal-icc/

NCICC Blog

31st AU Summit ends in Mauritania

The 31st African Union summit ended in Nouakchott, Mauritania on Monday with advisory decisions on Libya, Somalia and South Sudan.

Twenty two (22) African heads of states, four prime ministers and two foreign ministers attended the two-day summit.

In a statement, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council said international actors should resume their efforts to implement a UN plan which aims to secure stability, territorial integrity and security in Libya.

The statement emphasized the humanitarian conditions in South Sudan and said the parties should fulfil their obligations.

On Somalia, it said the AU supports activities of its federal government in the transition period, while tasking the UN to finance the AU’s mission in Somalia.

Chairperson of the AU and Rwandan President Paul Kagame said the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement was among issues that topped the summit’s agenda.

Kagame said five more countries signed the agreement.

Downloads

Australian Parliament Unanimously Favors Armenian Genocide Recognition

Australia’s House of Representatives has debated, for the first time, a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide through the prism of Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort. The Parliament has called for a vote to change the government’s foreign policy, according to the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The debated motion recognizes, among other things, “the extraordinary humanitarian efforts of the then newly formed Commonwealth of Australia for the orphans and other survivors of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire including Greeks and Assyrians.”

It was moved on Monday, June 25, in the Australian Parliament’s Federation Chamber by Trent Zimmerman (Liberal MP for North Sydney) and seconded by Joel Fitzgibbon (Labor MP for Hunter) and John Alexander (Liberal MP for Bennelong). Chris Bowen (Labor MP for MacMahon), Stuart Robert (Liberal MP for Fadden) and Anne Aly (Labor MP for Cowan) also spoke favorably on Australia’s helping hand for the victims of Ottoman Turkey’s crime against humanity.

This comprehensive, bipartisan support indicates that the House of Representatives has taken a major step towards Australia recognizing that its first major international humanitarian relief effort was to aid survivors of the Genocide that decimated the Christian Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians of the Ottoman Empire.

Significantly, the motion accurately reflects and accepts as a historical fact the Armenian Genocide as a “genocide,” moving Australia closer to international norms of recognizing the systematic murder of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire starting in 1915.

“This motion recognizes that Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort was to help the survivors, especially the orphan survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and today’s bipartisan debate paves the way for an eventual vote to formalize this recognition by the nation’s Parliament,” ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian said.

Kayserian said that Armenian-Australians faced “some obstacles and a considerable road ahead” to achieve full recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Australia, however, “that journey is that little bit shorter after this debate broke many taboos.”

“All speeches recognized Australia’s relief efforts during the Armenian Genocide, as that was the focus of this motion, however, we must seek more to honor the memory of the survivors of the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians,” Kayserian said. “We need more of our political leaders, to follow the lead of some of the honorable members during today’s debate, and Australia to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

“When debates such as today’s and when these calls for recognition evolve into a binding vote on a motion, such as the one debated today by one of the Houses of Parliament, we would have ensured an important shift in Australian foreign policy from one that appeases a foreign dictatorship to one that sides with truth and justice on the issue,” Kayserian added.
Zimmerman, who is the Co-Chair of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group/Caucus), was unequivocal in his call for the importance of Armenian Genocide recognition during his speech.

“In remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide and those Australians who came to their aid, we send a message that the events which started in 1915 are not just some footnote in history,” Zimmerman said. “For, if we hide from the truth, if we fail to recognize the evil that was perpetrated against the Armenians, we simply provide succor to those today and in the future who think that they can deny the most important of human rights, of life itself.”
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fitzgibbon, who is also a Co-Chair of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group/Caucus), echoed these calls.

“Up to 30 countries around the world, and our own New South Wales Parliament, have now declared the actions of the Ottomans an act of genocide,” Fitzgibbon said. “I do not believe the ongoing failure of Australia to do the same helps rebuild trust and relationships — we invest so much time in our international relationships, and I believe one further act could further strengthen our place in the world.”

Alexander, who is Member of the largest Armenian-Australian electorate in Bennelong and a long-time supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition, used this debate to repeat his calls.
“I have long called for this Parliament to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Alexander said. “I am happy that today, by debating this motion, we are taking a significant step towards achieving that goal by recognizing Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort, and what a relief effort it was.”

“I impatiently wait for the day that Australia recognizes not only our efforts to aid refugees and orphans of the Armenian Genocide, but also joins with the other 30 countries in calling for Turkey to recognize the events of 1915 as Genocide,” Alexander added.

“Today is a victory against foreign influence,” Kayserian said. “Despite pressures to gag this debate by a desperate Turkish dictatorship, five out of six speakers from the largest chamber in Australia’s Federal Parliament chose to side with a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide for what it was, a genocide, while paying tribute to an important and proud chapter in Australia’s history which has been sought to be suppressed by foreign influence.”

Bowen, who is the Shadow Treasurer of Australia, Robert and Aly provided details of the events of the Armenian Genocide and Australia’s relief effort in their support for the motion.
“The Australian soldiers had a chance during WWI to interact with the Armenian people in particular,” Bowen said. “Many Australians who were taken prisoner were billeted in the former homes of Armenians who had been expelled from their homes. Their homes had been ransacked and pillaged and, in many senses, destroyed.”

“It is … particularly important to recognize the humanitarian efforts of Australians, and perhaps the beginning of those links of friendship and comradeship between the Australian people and Armenian people and Assyrian people,” Bowen said.
Robert discussed the events and aftermath of WWI as they related to Australians and Armenians.

“Whilst Australia formed its sense of modern identity on the battlefields starting with Gallipoli, Armenia formed its sense of great and secondary tragedy from the events that followed,” Robert said. “These things should not be hidden, they should be discussed, they should be open. Reconciliation comes from an honest appraisal of events and an honest appraisal of history.”

Aly spoke to the importance of recognizing Australia’s role in aiding Armenians.
“The humanitarian efforts by Australians towards Armenians should be recognized as an important part of our history,” Aly said. “It serves to remind us all that even in war there is heroism, there is compassion, and there is shared humanity.”

The Armenian National Committee of Australia led a delegation of community representatives — including leaders of local Armenian, Greek and Assyrian organizations and clergy — to witness the historical 30-minute debate in the Federation Chamber of Parliament House.

“Our presence here is a gesture of thanks on behalf of our ancestors, all descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, who would be resting that little bit easier after seeing Australia take this significant step towards full recognition of the crimes against humanity that took their lives, their homes and their belongings,” Kayserian said.

“This is a motion that brings immense honor to Australia, and for us Australians of Armenian origin — the vast majority being descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” Kayserian added. “This is a day of immense pride, knowing that our nation helped our ancestors, 14,000 kilometers away, over 100 years ago at a critical time of need for their very survival.”

“The gag order on the use of Armenian Genocide by Australia’s federal government has received a sizeable blow,” Kayserian said. “But our work must not stop until Australian Parliament follows the Parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia in affirming the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.”

 

SOURCE: http://asbarez.com/173026/australian-parliament-holds-debate-on-armenian-genocide/

Downloads

Boko Haram: Troops Urged to Respect Human Rights

Major General Rogers Nicholas, the theater Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, has reiterated that respect for human rights and protection of civilians by troops in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in North East must be sacrosanct.

Gen. Nicholas made this assertion, weekend, at the headquarters of the  Command in Maiduguri, Borno State, when he received in audience Martin Ejidike, a senior human rights adviser from the Office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations System in Nigeria.

Speaking further during the meeting with the UN envoy, the commander pointed out that though the operations in the North East was asymmetrical in nature, pointing out that there were mechanisms in place to guide troops’ conduct in their host communities, as well as Rules of Engagement for the execution of their operational mandate.

He added that the “hierarchy of the military has zero tolerance for violation of any of these provisions”, hence the establishment of a standing Military Court Marshall to try errant personnel.

General Nicholas also disclosed that suspects were only arrested in the theatre when they were found to have participated directly in acts of terrorism or acted to aid and abet acts tantamount to terrorism.

Boko Haram suspects in custody, he noted, are pending prosecution because it does not fall within the purview of the military. He called on the prosecuting agencies to expedite action on the trial of the suspects to sieve out the acquitted from the convicted.

The commander also revealed that Boko Haram suspects, who voluntarily surrendered to troops and in custody, were being processed for onward transfer to Operation Safe Corridor, for deradecalisation and rehabilitation programme. He assured the UN adviser of unfettered access to the sittings and proceedings of the Military Court Marshall in the theatre, when the court resumes.

Ejidike, on his own part, said he was in the theatre to deliberate on pertinent issues bordering on human rights, and also to meet with the commander to acquaint the command with the developments on the establishment of a UN human rights office in the theatre.

He added that the move was also aimed at ensuring that the conduct of ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East were consistent with human rights provisions in Nigeria.

 

SOURCE; Todays News https://www.today.ng/news/nigeria/boko-haram-troops-urged-respect-human-rights-126165#

NCICC Blog

Nigeria: Herdsmen Attack 11 Plateau Villages, kill More Than…

Plateau State was on Sunday thrown into mourning with the killing of 86 persons in the attacks on about 11 communities in the Gashish District by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The Police Command in Plateau State had earlier on Sunday confirmed the attacks, saying it had only recovered 11 corpses from some of the villages. But residents had insisted that about 200 people were killed by the marauding herdsmen.

However, the police later issued a statement that indicated that the death toll in the attack on the communities in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on Saturday night had risen to 86. It added that six people were injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles razed while two motor vehicles were torched.

The spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, in an updated statement issued on Sunday night, said the earlier 11 death toll in the attacks was due to the information at its disposal as of then before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA.

Tyopev had identified the 11 corpses as Dalyop Vanode, Dom Danladi, Bururu Wade, Joju Rala,Titus Danladi, Bitrus Malat, Alu Matir, Noron Monday, Cecilia Yohana, Dam Bulus and Ladi Danladi.

He said, “Sequel to the attack in the Gashish District of Barkin Ladi LGA yesterday (Saturday) June 23, 2018, the Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Jos, Undie Adie, after deploying more personnel in the district sent a search and rescue team from the Command headquarters today (Sunday) for an on-the-spot assessment.

“The team headed by ACP Edeh John of the Department of Operations had also the DPO of the Barkin Ladi Division and a Unit Commander from Mopol 38. After a careful search of the villages attacked in the District,  the following were discovered: 86 persons altogether were killed, six people injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles and two motor vehicles also burnt.

“The team also carried out a detailed deployment. Corpses were released to the families for burial. The command earlier in the day confirmed only 11 people dead as the result of the attacks due to the information at its disposal before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA. This is to update members of the public of the situation as regards the attacks in the Gashish District as promised earlier on.”

Also, there were fears that some soldiers were missing during the attack but the Commander of the Special Military Task Force codenamed Operation Safe Haven, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, dismissed the report. He said, “it’s not true, no soldier died and no soldier is missing.”

 

SOURCE:  Punch. https://punchng.com/herdsmen-attack-11-plateau-villages-kill-86-torch-50-houses/