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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT END OF STRATEGY PLANNING MEETING OF…

 

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 8-10 OCTOBER 2018.

                                                                      

Between 8th and 9th October 2018, members of the African Network on International Criminal Justice (ANICJ) which comprises civil society organizations working to promote justice, peace and the rule of law in Africa, met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to adopt its operational Charter and prepare its 3-year strategic plan towards the fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa.

 

The meeting was facilitated by the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court with funding support of the European Commission.

 

Members of the Network from 21 countries of Africa participated in the meetings, and at end of which the network resolved as follows:

 

  1. The Charter of the Network, which sets out the operational values and principles, was validated and adopted.

 

  1. The sub regional Focal Points of the network were appointed for the 5 geographic regions of the continent, namely, Moroccan Coalition for the ICC (North Africa), Institute for Security Studies (Southern Africa), Ivorian Coalition for the ICC (West Africa), Burundian Coalition for ICC (East Africa) and the Congolese Coalition for the ICC (Central Africa). The Nigerian Coalition for the ICC hosts the coordinating secretariat, and the global Coalition for the ICC is the co-convener of the Network.

 

  1. The Focal Points are mandated to coordinate the operations of the network in their respective sub-regions, engage governments of countries in their sub-regions in the fight against impunity, and expand the network to bring in more civil society organizations, academia, activists and human rights defenders.

 

Human Rights Situation in Burundi

 

  1. The network welcomes the effort of the African Union to bring stability and peace in Burundi, but condemns the continued arrest and imprisonment of several human rights defenders in Burundi. On the invitation of the Burundian government offered to the Network by the Burundian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission, His Excellency, Dieudonee Ndabarushimana, the network resolved to send a delegation of its members to that country in the last quarter of 2018 in order to assess the situation of human rights and measure taken by the national judicial institution to hold perpetrator of international crimes accountable. The delegation will also undertake any possible constructive engagement with the Burundian government as contribution to bringing peace, rule of law and stability in the country. The Network commends the government of Burundi for the invitation for the mission extended to the Network and assures the government and people of Burundi of the Network objectivity its interventions in the country.

 

Increasing access of civil society to the African Union Commission and meetings

 

  1. The Network expresses concern at the difficulties encountered by civil society organizations in Africa in gaining physical and information access to the African Union Commission and meetings of the Union, and urges the African Union Commission to reform its process of ECOSOC accreditation in order to give more civil society organizations opportunity to contribute positively and constructively to the development of the continent.

 

  1. As the emerging voice of civil society in Africa on international justice issues, the network resolves to apply for accreditation of the ECOSOC of the African Union in order to facilitate its members from across Africa to have increased access to the African Union Commission and its institutions so as to enhance the voice of civil society in African in the affairs of the African Union.

 

International Criminal Court and Africa

 

  1. The Network affirms its commitment to the core values of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court and the guiding principles of the global Coalition for the ICC, and commends the ICC in its continued efforts in tackling impunity across the world including in Africa. However, the Network notes with dismay that the number of cases currently investigated or prosecuted at the ICC is too little and unduly protracted to meet the huge expectations of the victims of atrocity crimes in Africa and the resources the state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC expend on the court.

 

  1. The Network welcomes the support given to the ICC by many African state parties especially in diplomatically resolving the erstwhile threats of mass withdrawal of African states parties from the Rome Statute. The Network urges African State Parties to work together in a coordinated manner to fulfill their respective treaty obligations under the Statute. Furthermore, the network urge the African state parties to fully pay up their financials dues to the ICC and fully cooperation with the court in accordance with their treaty obligations under the Statute.

 

Threats to the integrity and independence of the ICC

  1. The Network condemns the recent threats to the ICC and its officials by the governments of the United States of America, which are capable of undermining the independence of the court and worsen the situation of impunity across the world. The network urges the US, as well as China and Russia to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC and fully support the court as a way of demonstrating true leadership of the world.

 

African union and rule of law in Africa

 

  1. The Network welcomes the new initiatives of the African Union Commission to improve good governance, the rule of law and accountability for international crimes in the continent, including the adoption of the Protocol to merge the African Court on Human and People’s Rights with the proposed African Court of Justice and introduce jurisdiction for international crimes (the Malabo Protocol). The Network is however concerned that the provisions of article 46bis of the Protocol, which confers immunity from arrest and prosecution to heads of state and senior government officials undermines the essential purpose of the Protocol and contradicts all extant international laws on immunities for international crimes.

 

  1. The Network resolves to constructively engage the African Union Commission and the African state governments in seeking ways to review and improve the provisions of the Malabo Protocol in order to actualize its intention of establishing an effective regional framework of accountability for international crimes to compliment the International Criminal Court and national judicial systems. To this end, the Network proposes to organize a high-level Summit on the Malabo Protocol in the first quarter of 2019 to bring together key stakeholders in order to advance effective and functional African strategies for fighting against impunity in the continent.

 

  1. The Network further calls on African states that have not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC and the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC to do so without delay in order to contribute to effort of the international community to fight impunity for international crimes.

 

Accountability for atrocity crimes in Africa

 

  1. The Network is concerned that most of the violations of human rights, humanitarian laws and atrocity crimes committed in Africa are not investigated and prosecuted. Most perpetrators of these crimes remain in power and continue to commit more violations. The victims are not given any redress or justice. The Network calls on African governments to improve on their national judicial institutions so as to ensure that all violators of human rights are fully brought to justice and the victims adequately redressed.

 

Victims of human rights violation and international crimes in Africa

 

  1. The Network is concerned that millions of victims of human rights violations and international crimes across Africa, especially in ICC’s situation and Preliminary examination countries, have not received justice, and condemns the African Union for not giving priority attention to victims’ reparation. The Network resolves to coordinate and support networks of Victims groups across the continent in order to give voice to the victims. To this end, the network proposed to hold a meeting of Victims’ groups across African in the first quarter of 2019 to articulate the priority needs and effective strategies of demanding for justice.

 

  1. The Network notes that the Extra-ordinary Criminal Chambers of the African Union that held in Dakar Senegal to try ex-President of Thad, Hussein Habra, awarded reparations to victims of the atrocities committed by ex-President Habra, but regrets that these victims have not been paid. The Network urges the African Union to establish a Contributory Victims’ Reparation Fund to meet needs of victims in the continent including complying with the judicial order for reparation for victims in Thad. The Network resolves to work with victims’ networks in Thad to undertake the mapping of the relevant victims and to work towards ensuring that they are redressed.

 

  1. On specific situation and Preliminary examination countries, the Network note as follows:

 

  1. Central African Republic: The Network commends of the international community and the government of CAR to establish the Special courts in Bangui and urges all stakeholders to speed up the process of the courts in order to bring justice for many victims of atrocity crimes in the country.

 

  1. Mali: The network commends the opening of the trials at the ICC of Malian cases, and fresh arrests and investigations undertaken by the ICC in Mali, but notes that the security situation in the country is still very fragile, exacerbated by the events of the July 2018 general elections. The network urges the Malian government to resolve all legally electoral disputes in order to reduce electoral conflicts that could lead to atrocity crimes in the country.

 

  1. Cote d’Viore : The Network notes the continued effort of the government of Cote d’Voire to bring perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice, and the ICC’s proceedings against the former head of State, but is concerned that only one side of the conflict is being investigated and prosecuted. The Network is also concerned that the victims of the violence that lead to the ICC’s intervention have not been fully compensated, and urges the government of Cote d’Voire to increase its efforts in redressing all identified victims.

 

  1. Nigeria: The Network commends the efforts of government of Nigeria in opening the prosecutions of suspect of atrocity crimes by Boko Haram terrorists, but condemn the failure of the government to also investigate and prosecute military officials and other security personnel and members of military-backed paramilitary group called the Civilian Joint Task Force who are widely accused of committing violations of human rights and international crimes. The Network urges the Prosecutor of the ICC to conclude its preliminary examination of Nigeria and to open investigations and indict any perpetrator of international crimes in the country.

 

  1. Guinea: The Network notes that the preliminary examination of the situation in Guinea by the Prosecutor of the ICC in respect of the September 29 2011 atrocities has not be concluded several  years after it was opened, and urges the prosecutor to conclude the examinations forthwith and open investigations and indict any suspected perpetrator of international  This is important to assure the victims who are still alive that that they can get justice within their lifetime, as many of the victims have died due to the aftereffect of the violations they suffered. Also, the Government must take all necessary measures to grant temporary compensations to the victims.

 

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Network is worried at the recent declaration of DRC government officials to withdraw its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and urges the government of DCR not to consider a withdrawal but to support the ICC and civil society actors in DRC to fight impunity and ensure accountability for atrocity crimes.

 

  1. South Africa: The Network commends the government of South Africa in recent indications of its intention to cease the legislative processes of repealing the International Crimes Act and suspend its withdrawal from the Rome Statutes. The network also commends government of South African for paying up part of its financial dues to the ICC, and encourages it to continue to play leadership role in the sub regions towards the fight against impunity

 

  1. Burundi: the Network commends the declaration by the President of Burundi of his intention not to seek re-election at the end of his current third tenure in office in 2020, which will hopefully bring considerable easing of political tension in the country, and urges him not to retract from this commitment. The Network also urges the Burundian government to open its boarders to the international community so as to assist it in bringing peace and stability in the country. The network condemns the expulsion of United Nations experts, the reduction of the African Union observer contingent, and continued arrest and incarceration of several human rights defenders in Burundi, and urges the government of Burundi to release all human rights defenders in detention. The network condemns the terrible decision of the Burundi government to withdraw from the Rome Statute in order to continue the massacres and crimes against humanity without prosecution nor the possibility of involving international criminal justice. The network commends the step already taken by the ICC in the case of Burundi and calls on the prosecutor of the ICC to take the next step to bring the alleged perpetrators of crimes to justice.

 

Victims’ Trust Fund of the ICC

 

  1. The network commends the Victims Trust Fund of the ICC in its efforts of providing considerable redress to victims in CAR and many other situations in Africa, but urges State Parties to the Rome Statutes to make more voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.

 

  1. The network calls on all civil society organizations, human rights defenders, academics working on international justice, and bar associations across Africa to join the Network in order to increase coordination and commitment of the civil society to the fight against impunity for international crimes in the continent.

 

  1. The Network expresses gratitude to the government of Ethiopia for hosting the network’s meetings, and to diplomatic missions to the African Union in Addis Ababa that meet with the network’s delegation during the period of the meetings, including the missions of Nigeria, Burundi, Sudan, The Netherlands, European Union and the global Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) for its support to the African Network.

 

 

  1. Dated and adopted at Addis Ababa this day of       2018

 

  1. Signed by the following members of the African Network for International Criminal Justice

Nigerian Coalition for the ICC

Institute for Security Studies (ISS) South Africa

Southern African Litigation Center (SALC)

International Commission of Jurists Kenya section

Ivorian Coalition for the ICC

DRC Coalition for the ICC

Central African Republic Coalition for the ICC

Malian Coalition for the ICC

Burundian Coalition for the ICC

Ugandan Coalition for the ICC

Guinean Coalition for the ICC

Moroccan Coalition for the ICC

Moroccan Center for Peace and Law

Burkina Faso Coalition for the ICC

 

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International Conference on Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC)…

 

Press release

02 November, 2018

 

Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in partnership with Nigerian Coalition on International Criminal Court (NCICC) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) holds a 1-Day international Conference on Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC) and Cross-Border Corruption / Illicit Asset Recovery.

The International Conference is in furtherance of commitment towards mobilizing sustained partnership in the fight against corruption and in particular to address the menace of illicit funds as well as to enhance the recovery of stolen assets across  borders.

The International Conference with the theme: Situating Jurisdiction of ICC over Cross-Border Corruption and Illicit Asset Recovery – Evolving Global Understanding and Partnership is aimed at appraising the mandate of ICC in dealing with issues relating to cross-border corruption from the broad cover of its mandate on ‘Crimes against Humanity’. The Conference is scheduled to hold at Protea Hotel, Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja on Tuesday, 13th November, 2018 beginning from 10am.

The Conference to be chaired by Professor Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption will feature a Keynote Address titled: Corruption As Crime Against Humanity: ICC And Compelling Challenge Of A Global Monster to be delivered by Mr. Paul Hoffman, the Chairman of Accountability Now, South Africa. Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, Network of Commonwealth Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa and Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) will be guest of honour

 

Lead presentations at the international Conference include (a) Exploring Nexus Between Jurisdiction Of ICC, Domestic Laws And International Statutes On Corruption And Crimes Against Humanity to be delivered by Hon. Fatou  Bensouda Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), (b) ICC And Global Civil Society: Dismantling Scourge Of Corruption Beyond Domestic Boundaries to be delivered by Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, (SAN), (c) Beyond Domestic And International Boundaries: How ICC Can Connect With The Imperatives Of Countering Crime Of Corruption Within The Confines Of Its Statutes to be delivered by Chinonye Obiagwu.

 

The outcome of the International Conference is expected to stimulate global advocacy aimed at deploying the mandate of ICC into combating global corruption and prosecution of acts of corruption that violate human rights and exacerbate crimes against humanity or commence the process of establishing an International Ant-Corruption Court. The conference will evolve frameworks to be considered for adoption at the Assembly of States Parties at its annual meeting for the purposes of reviewing the general policies of ICC to enhance jurisdictional competence in line with ongoing advocacy towards making ICC relevant in the fight against crimes of corruption or create a new mechanism for the purpose of addressing the human rights  conflicts and economic impacts of corruption across the globe.

 

Supported by Mcarthur Foundation.

 

Lanre Suraj

Chairman, HEDA

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ICC Sentences Former DRC VP Bemba for Witness Tampering

The International Criminal Court on Monday fined Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba 300 000 euros ($350,730) and sentenced him to 12 months for witness tampering, but his jail term was reduced to zero due to time already served.

Bemba was acquitted of war crimes on appeal in June but had already been convicted on the lesser charge of witness tampering during his trial.

Bemba has been barred from standing in December’s presidential election in Democratic Republic of Congo, in which he would have been one of the front runners challenging the ruling coalition, because of the conviction.

“Future accused persons can look at Mr Bemba’s conviction as a cautionary example as to what consequences obstructing the administration of justice can have,” Judge Bertram Schmitt said.

“Mr Bemba’s acquittal in the main case should have been the end of his exposure to the court, yet he continues to have the specter of this institution hanging over him.”

A senior figure in Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) party, told Reuters the MLC was in the process of analyzing the implications of the decision.

“But what is positive in this ruling is that MLC president, senator Jean Pierre Bemba moves from the status of being provisionally freed to become 100 percent free in terms of movement, action and expression,” the party’s deputy secretary-general Fidele Babala said.

Bemba’s surprise acquittal on war crimes charges in June raised the prospect he could return to Congo and re-enter politics. A final decision on whether the witness tampering conviction makes him ineligible to stand is expected on Wednesday in Congo.

Bemba headed the MLC and its affiliated militia. After he lost an election to Laurent Kabila in 2006 he was sent to The Hague to stand trial for atrocities committed by his troops in neighboring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

His initial conviction was reversed on appeal in June, with judges saying prosecutors had failed to show he had enough control over troops to bear responsibility for their wrongdoing and he could not be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bemba, who has family in both Belgium and Congo, did not attend Monday.

 

SOURCE:  https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/icc-sentences-former-drc-vp-bemba-for-witness-tampering-17125047

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NCICC and Trust Africa Set Up Network for Effective…

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court working in partnership with TrustAfrica to implement a project aimed at contributing to strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice  held a two-day consultative workshop on the 11-12 April, 2018 on “Strengthening the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and Enhancing Access to Justice in the Sub-Region”.

The meeting allowed for constructive dialogue with stakeholders and key actors from civil society organizations, Ministries of justice and ECCJ on key issues and concerns that relate to the capacity of the Court to administer efficient, expeditious and cost-effective justice delivery for victims of human rights violations in the sub-regions and to improve awareness and understanding of the functioning of the court.

At the close of the meeting, several key decisions were reached, one of which was for CSOs to form a coalition under the umbrella and name of “Coalition for Effective ECOWAS Community Court of Justice” with a mandate to support the Court, work with all its organs in strengthening its capacity and systems, and engage with the members states to ensure the integrity, capacity, and resources of the Court are adequately provided.

IMPORTANCE OF THE NETWORK

The role of civil society organisations in the democratic framework of the West Africa sub-region mostly in promoting and enhancing social and economic rights and addressing the challenges faced cannot be overemphasized. Despite the vast potential and the advantage that the ECOWAS Court has in advancing human rights in the sub-region it is not functioning effectively and efficiently. Even with the irrefutable achievements of the ECCJ in delivering landmark judgment and setting precedents in novel areas of human rights there is still a need for CSOs to take up activities geared towards effective enlightenment of the public on the benefits of the court.

In light of the above, the mandate of the network will be to engage in various supportive strategies and mechanisms that will foster the effective functioning of the Court and in demanding accountability from the government of member states including but not limited to the following;

  • Sensitization on the enforcement of the decisions of the court by member states which will help in strengthening the institution and also enhance the confidence and trust of the public in the court.
  • Engaging with member states and other institutions to secure political support for the Court.
  • Engage policy makers and also lobby them to promote accountability and support them to fulfill their obligations under the ECOWAS Treaty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Membership is open to all individuals and Civil Society Organizations working to promote human rights, rule of law and good governance in West Africa.
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Ten Years Later, Ugandan Court Finally Confirms 93 Charges…

On August 30, 2018 the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court in Kampala finally confirmed 93 charges against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Thomas Kwoyelo, who has been in detention since 2008.

For Kwoyelo, the wheels of justice have undoubtedly been slowed by numerous delays in his trial. Following his capture in 2008, Kwoyelo first appeared before the ICD in 2011. The start of his trial was delayed due to a preliminary objection raised by his defense lawyers who argued that he was entitled to amnesty under Uganda’s amnesty law,which was valid at the time of his capture. This matter was not settled until 2015, when Uganda’s Supreme Court ruled that Kwoyelo’s trial was constitutional and did not breach Uganda’s amnesty law.

In 2016, three pre-trial hearings were held in AprilAugust, and September, while in 2017, four pre-trial hearings were held in January, February, March, and July. While these pre-trial hearings were meant to pave the way for the confirmation of the charges against Kwoyelo, they instead created legal challenges that further stalled the trial. At one point, Kwoyelo’s defense counsel labelled the charges as “fatally and incurably defective,” arguing that the conflict in Uganda was largely domestic, and the prosecution cannot therefore charge Kwoyelo under international criminal law.

Other factors that caused delays included objections by the defense that Kwoyelo was not medically fit to stand trial, a delay in translation of the charge sheet and other documents into the Acholi language, and a disagreement between the defense and the prosecution over redaction and delayed disclosure of evidence.

On a very disappointing note, the court and the different legal entities involved are also to blame. On numerous occasions, court officials failed to show up at scheduled trials. In July 2017 for example, a hearing failed to take place when neither the judge, the prosecution, nor the defense lawyers showed up for the proceedings. In June 2018, a hearing had to be postponed yet again due to lack of quorum by the defense lawyers. On this occasion, the judge warned that it would be the last adjournment, while Kwoyelo expressed anger at the slow pace of the proceedings. In July 2018, another hearing failed to take place when the judiciary cited lack of funds. This was the third postponement in a row and left uncertainty about whether the charges against Kwoyelo would be confirmed.

The confirmation of charges therefore comes as relief to Kwoyelo and many other stakeholders who have waited a long time for the trial to move forward. At the hearing on August 30, 2018, proceedings progressed smoothly, after a few preliminary objections raised by the defense.

Kowyelo’s defense told court that they were not ready to proceed because the charge sheet had not been translated into Luo as earlier ordered by court. The defense argued that in the interest of justice and for Kwoyelo to understand the charges against him, the charge sheet needed to be translated. Kwoyelo’s court appointed lawyers also noted that they had not been given any funds by the court.

In response to the defense’s objections, Justice Susan Okalany, the presiding judge, expressed disappointment that the charge sheet had not been translated, and that the lawyers had not been given funds to prepare for the trial. She thus ordered the court registrar to follow up and rectify the issues.

The judge nevertheless noted that the defense’s concerns could not bar her from delivering the court’s ruling. In her opinion, Kwoyelo was sufficiently aware of the charges against him despite the charge sheet having not been translated.

The judge recapped the charges against Kwoyelo, noting that they include war crimes and crimes against humanity as spelled out under customary international law and the Ugandan penal code act. The charges include torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, pillage, murder, and rape, among others.

The judge noted that there was need for the court to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed to the main trial. She thus held that the court had a responsibility to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain each of the charges and enough to prove that Kwoyelo actually committed the offences he is charged with. She also noted that the prosecution would have to establish whether there was a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population, the exact attacks, and the knowledge of the accused about the attacks. The judge then proceeded to confirm the charges against Kwoyelo.

“The Court has established elements of the said offences to required standards for purposes of confirmation. The Court has found the evidence sufficient to commit the accused for trial and he will be informed of the date,” said Justice Okalany.

The ICD has already announced that justices Moses Mukiibi, Duncan Gaswaga, and Micheal Elubu will hear Kwoyelo’s case at the trial stage. With the charges against him having been finally confirmed, the stage has now been set for the main trial.

 

 

SOURCE : International Justice Monitor

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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.

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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/