Somali judge reelected to the International Court of Justice

Somali Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf has been reelected to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) based in the Hague, the Netherlands.

The prominent lawyer who has been a Member of the Court since 2009 has also held the position of Vice-President since 2015.

He is among the four judges elected after five rounds of simultaneous voting by the UN General Assembly and Security Council on Thursday from an initial pool of six candidates to the 15-Member judicial body of the United Nations.

They were elected by an absolute majority to nine-year terms, starting on February 6 next year. A fifth judge will be elected on Monday after a deadlock between two candidates on Thursday.

Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf is one of three Members of the Court from Africa including Judge Mohamed Bennouna from Morocco and Judge Julia Sebutinde from Uganda.

Five seats of the 15-Member judicial body come up for election every three years.

Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, before his election in 2009, served as Chief Legal Counsel to various international organizations including UNESCO and UNIDO.

He studied law in Somalia and has authored more than 7 books and over 50 articles in various fields

He studied law in Somalia and has authored more than 7 books and over 50 articles in various fields of public international law.


Libyan lawyers welcome ICC prosecutor Bensouda’s promise to finally…

The commitment International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda gave to the UN Security Council that in 2018, that she really would be getting on with investigating and prosecuting Libyan war crimes, has been welcomed by Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).

The organisation, which has been among the frequent international critics of Bensouda and the inability of the ICC to get to grips with prosecutions of Libyan war criminals, praised her determination. It observed that this was the 13th time that Bensouda had spoken to the Security Council about Libya.

“We hope that the prosecutor’s comments will serve as a much-needed reminder to actors involved in the commission of the ongoing atrocities in Libya that the international community is watching and stands ready to take action” said LFJL director El ham Saudi, What is needed now is a concerted effort for collaboration between the ICC, states and civil society to ensure that the ICC has the resources, access and reach to ensure that its mandate reaches the ground”.

Saudi noted Bensouda’s comments to Security Council members on the principle that military commanders had responsibility for the actions of their subordinates and that, under the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), they could be held liable for crimes that subordinates committed.

Saudi said the LFJL welcomed Bensouda’s “unequivocal call for greater cooperation from Libya” to ensure the arrest of war crimes suspect Saiqa Special Forces major Mahmoud Al-Warfali.

She said justice was key to achieving sustainable peace: “Accountability for serious crimes and respect for the rule of law must form the cornerstone of the ongoing political dialogue if Libya is to achieve peace, stability and security”.

Source: Libya herald


ICC Gives Go Ahead for Burundi War Crimes Investigation

FILE - The building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

FILE – The building of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The International Criminal Court on Thursday gave prosecutors the go ahead to investigate alleged war crimes committed by the government of Burundi against its political opposition between April 2015 and October 2017.

In a statement, judges said there is “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to crimes against humanity.” The war crimes, judges said, include murder, rape and torture that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people and prompted 400,000 to flee the country.

The decision was handed down on October 25, just two days before Burundi made the decision to withdraw from the criminal court. The decision was kept under seal until Thursday, but the court will still have jurisdiction over crimes committed while Burundi was a member.

Burundi erupted into protests and violence in 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term. Critics said he was defying term limits in the constitution and the agreement that ended Burundi’s civil war.

Soldiers put down a coup attempt while Nkurunziza was out of the country.

Burundi protests executive order

U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a continuation of a 2015 executive order that declared “a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the security in Burundi.”

In an interview this week with VOA’s Central African service, Burundian Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe took issue with the executive order, saying no one in Burundi, including Americans, feels unsafe.

He said Burundi has made tremendous strides from the political chaos that started in May 2015 and that peace and security in all parts of the country have been restored.

“Burundi is now peaceful. The people of Burundi have defeated those who wanted to seize power by force, and the entire country is now peaceful. We are really puzzled when we hear reports that Burundi threatens the security of the region and the security of Americans,” he said.

Nyamitwe also said that the continuation of the 2015 executive order – which the government had objected to from the outset – stems from the fact that the U.S. and some European countries continue to receive wrong information about what is really going on in his country.

“The only thing that may trigger such a decision is the disinformation campaign spread by those who have their own agenda,” he said.

Burundi has called for the refugees who fled in 2015 to return; but, residents of camps in Rwanda and Uganda recently told VOA that killings of perceived government opponents in Burundi continue, and they would not feel safe returning home








Tanzania, Uganda Leaders Criticize ICC Probe of Burundi

FILE - A man begs for help from the military as he stands in a drain where he had hidden to escape a lynch mob at the Cibitoke district of Burundi's capital, Bujumbura. International judges have approved the opening of a full investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Burundi, where at least 1,200 people have died in unrest since 2015.

FILE – A man begs for help from the military as he stands in a drain where he had hidden to escape a lynch mob at the Cibitoke district of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. International judges have approved the opening of a full investigation into alleged crimes against humanity in Burundi, where at least 1,200 people have died in unrest since 2015.

The leaders of Tanzania and Uganda criticized on Saturday a plan by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Burundi.

A statement from the office of Tanzanian President John Magufuli said the court’s decision “compromised efforts” of an East African Community (EAC) committee “charged with seeking a resolution to the Burundi conflict.”

The committee is led by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa.

Museveni on Saturday accused the ICC of “interfering in the efforts of the EAC.” He currently heads the EAC, a regional bloc made up of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

On Friday, Burundi’s government said it would not cooperate with the proposed ICC investigation. The east African nation recently withdrew from the ICC charter, but the court argues the pullout does not affect its jurisdiction over crimes committed earlier.

Speaking to reporters in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, Justice Minister Aimee Laurentine said the ICC has no right to conduct an investigation in her country.

“Burundi, not being a state party to the ICC statute, is not concerned with those so-called decisions of that court,” said Laurentine . “The government of Burundi rejects that decision and reiterates its firm determination that it will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court or any other fraudulent manipulation intending to facilitate extended mandate of the ICC in the territory of Burundi.”

The government response came a day after three judges at the ICC authorized the prosecutor to open an investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed inside and outside Burundi between April 2015 and October 2017.



Burundi became a member of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC, in 2004. The country announced the plan to withdraw from the statute in October 2016 and the notification took effect last month. Burundi accused the court of targeting African countries.

‘No crime can go unpunished’

Vital Nshimirimana, who heads Burundi’s Forum for Strengthening the Civil Society, said pulling out of the ICC wouldn’t save those behind crimes against civilians.

“Now it’s very well-informed that it cannot escape justice because victims are crying for justice and today no crime can go unpunished in the modern world,” said Nshimirimana.

According to human rights organizations, between April 2015 and May 2017 at least 1,200 people were killed, 900 disappeared forcefully and more than 10,000 people were illegally detained amid Burundi’s political unrest.

Security forces and the ruling party youth wing better known as Imbonerakure have been accused of being behind much of the killings of civilians and political opponents.

Laurentine said her country has the capacity to prosecute those behind the human rights violations.

“Burundi has efficient and able institutions and legal mechanisms to conduct investigations and to take it before justice of any kind of crimes committed in its territory without discrimination, fear or favor,” she said.

Some rights groups, hoowever, doubt that Burundi’s judiciary can give justice to the victims of political violence.




MAKURDI—Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has reiterated his commitment to approach the International Criminal Court, ICC, at The Hague, to have Benue people protected from herdsmen attacks as the Open Grazing Prohibition Law comes into effect today.
Addressing thousands of Benue people, including youths and non-indigenes resident in the state under the aegis of Street Movement Against Ravages in Benue, during a solidarity/sensitisation walk to mark the end of open grazing in the state, the governor said he will not renege on his avowed determination to protect the lives and properties of the people. Gov Samuel Ortom Represented by his Deputy, Mr. Benson Abounu, Governor Ortom said: “As a law-abiding government that believes in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, we will not shy away from our responsibilities to protect the lives of all the inhabitants of Benue State against any forceful perpetration of criminal injustices. “That is why this law came into being, And from November 1 (today), the law will come into full force because for close to five years herdsmen killed thousands of Benue people and it was almost becoming a pogrom. “If it means going to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, talking to people, sensitising, singing and shouting, this government will go the whole hog to protect the lives and properties of our people.” Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo communities back Ortom Earlier, speaking on behalf of the Benue Youths Forum, Mr. Daniel Nyikagh, who declared the support of all Benue youths for Governor Ortom, said: “The law is the panacea to the pogrom we witnessed in our state; it is not intended to chase anyone away, but to ensure peaceful coexistence. Speaking on behalf of displaced persons, Reverend Father Solomon Mffa, said: “President Muhammadu Buhari must speak out against the activities of herdsmen in the country, because the killing of innocent persons is worst than corruption.”

The leaders of Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa communities, who spoke at the occasion, pledged their support for Ortom, the law and its full implementation. Many of the participants bore placards with inscriptions such as ‘No more wild grazing in Benue,’ ‘Benue people stand with Governor Samuel Ortom,’ ‘Herdsmen respect our laws,’ ‘We are tired of burying our people’ and ‘Open grazing prohibition law is for peaceful coexistence.’

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ICJ: Nigeria pledges commitment, accepts ruling

International Court of Justice - ICJ

Nigeria on Thursday pledged its continued commitment to supporting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as demonstrated by acceptance of the court’s ruling on the border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Samson Itegboje, made this known while delivering the country’s statement on “The Report of the International Court of Justice” in New York.

Itegboje said: “Nigeria will continue to abide by her commitment to the promotion of international justice and the peaceful settlement of disputes, as a State Party to the Statute of the ICJ.

“By accepting the Court’s ruling on our border dispute with Cameroon, we have demonstrated our conviction and commitment to the precepts and principles of the Court.

“We encourage all member states to continue to offer their support to the activities of the court in its efforts to promote international justice and the rule of law,” he said.

According to him, the ICJ is an important part of the United Nation’s mechanisms for the promotion of the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security through the administration of international justice.

“To be sure, the court has made tremendous contributions to the promotion of and respect for the rule of law at the international level,” he said.

The Nigerian envoy said that over the years, the court has continued to play a vital role in the maintenance of international peace and security through its rulings and judicial notices.

“It has also contributed remarkably to the corpus of international jurisprudence,” he said.


Burundi first country to quit ICC

Burundi is officially the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court following a notice a year ago but key rights groups are displeased.

The pullout takes effect Friday, after President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a decree in 2016. Under the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, withdrawal takes effect a year after notification.

Burundi’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to remove the country from the court’s jurisdiction.

The move was unprecedented in a continent whose leaders often complain that the court disproportionately targets Africans.

But Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying the withdrawal shields agencies from accountability.

“Burundi’s official withdrawal is the latest example of the government’s deplorable efforts to shield those responsible for grave human rights violations from any kind of accountability,” associate director Param-Preet Singh said.

“We urge the ICC to take a progressive approach in interpreting its jurisdiction so victims maintain a viable path to justice.”

In April last year, the court opened a preliminary investigation into Burundi, focusing on killings, imprisonment, torture, rape and other sexual violence, as well as enforced disappearances.

The ICC said political violence had killed about 450 people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Amnesty International said the “cynical ICC withdrawal” will not derail wheels of justice.

“The government has made a cynical attempt to evade justice by taking the unprecedented step of withdrawing from the ICC,” said organisation head Matt Cannock.

Cannock added that perpetrators, including members of the security forces, cannot so easily “shirk their alleged responsibility for crimes” under international law committed since 2015.

“Withdrawal from the Rome Statute does no, in any way, absolve Burundi of its obligations to end ongoing widespread human rights violations, or to address its abject failure to deliver justice for victims at the national level.”

The official noted ICC can continue its preliminary investigations regardless of Burundi’s efforts to stop its work by pulling out.

“Even if Nkurunziza’s government will not cooperate, the ICC has ways and means to investigate and prosecute crimes committed.”

Source:  The Star


Deliberate Famine Should Be a War Crime: UN Expert

Conflicts have proliferated around the world and with them has come a rise in food insecurity. Credit: Reuters

The deliberate starvation of civilians could amount to a war crime and should be prosecuted, said an independent UN human rights expert.

In a new report, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, examined the right to food in conflict situations and found a grim picture depicting the most severe humanitarian crisis since the UN was established.

“Contrary to popular belief, casualties resulting directly from combat usually make up only a small proportion of deaths in conflict zones, with most individuals, in fact perishing from hunger and disease,” she said.

Conflicts have proliferated around the world and with them has come a rise in food insecurity.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the proportion of undernourished people living in countries in conflict and protracted crises is almost three times higher than that in other developing countries.

In five conflict-stricken countries alone, approximately 20 million are facing famine and starvation.

Another estimated 70 million people in 45 countries currently require emergency food assistance, a 40% increase from 2015.

Since the human right to food is a universal one, Elver noted that countries and other parties to conflicts must act and avoid using food as a weapon of war.


“If the famine [occurs] from deliberate action by state or other players, using food as a weapon of war is an international crime and there is an individual responsibility to that,” she said.

“The international community should make it clear that this is a war crime or a crime against humanity, otherwise we will give a certain permission [to it],” Elver continued.

In Yemen, rates of acute malnutrition have increased dramatically since the beginning of the civil war in 2015, making it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Approximately 60% of the population are food insecure while seven million are at risk of famine and acute food insecurity, a situation that is expected to worsen without an increase in emergency food assistance.

According to the World Food Programme, over three million children and pregnant or nursing women are acutely malnourished, making them susceptible to communicable diseases such as cholera.

Already, a severe cholera outbreak that began in April has killed over 2,000 people and has exacerbated the nutrition crisis.

Parties to the ongoing conflict have played a significant and deliberate role in the decreased access to food, including a Saudi Arabia-imposed aerial and naval blockade on a country which previously imported 90% of its food.

Air strikes carried out by the coalition have also targeted the country’s agricultural sector including farms, further limiting access to food, while sieges by Houthi fighters in numerous cities have prevented staple items from reaching civilians.

Ta’izz, the Middle Eastern country’s second-largest city, was besieged by Houthi fighters for over a year, causing blockages in supply routes and dire food shortages.

Elver said that Yemen is a “clear situation” where famine constitutes a crime against humanity in which both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthis are responsible.

She noted, however, that there is still widespread impunity in situations when famine is deliberately caused and pointed to the International Criminal Court as an example which has not prosecuted individuals responsible for such crises.

Though UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has included the Saudi-led coalition in his annual shame list for violations against children, Elver called for the creation of legal mandates to prevent famine and protect people’s right to food.

This includes the development of international legal standards to reinforce the norm that deliberate starvation is a war crime or a crime against humanity and the referral of the most serious cases to the ICC for investigation and potential prosecution.

The formal recognition of famine as a crime can prevent the tendency of governments “to hide behind a curtain of natural disasters and state sovereignty to use hunger as a genocidal weapon,” the report states.

“We can see the famine coming, it doesn’t just happen in one day,” Elver said.

Source: The wire


Central African Republic: Conditions in Central African Republic Continue…

The United Nations reports conditions in Central African Republic have continued to deteriorate since a serious outbreak of inter-communal violence in mid-May between the Muslim Seleka and largely Christian anti-Balaka armed groups.

Fighting in some parts of Central African Republic has become so intense that United Nations and private aid agencies have had to suspend their activities. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the C.A.R., Najat Rochdi, says security has become so bad in the East, agencies have had to change their mode of operations.

“We cannot do it anymore business as usual having bases, you know, here and there, but rather strengthening some hubs actually, around a number of cities where the security is much more important and from there fly in special emergency teams, a kind of surge teams,” she said.

Since January, the United Nations reports a 50 percent increase in the number of internally displaced people to 600,000. Refugee numbers also have increased to nearly one-half million.

Rochdi says humanitarian operations in the country are suffering from severe under-funding. She says only 39 percent of the nearly $500 million appeal for this year has been received. Because of the lack of funding, she says food rations have been cut in half.

“And that there are places where actually we have stopped the food distribution. We already had very serious worsening of the malnutrition situation. For example, unfortunately, in the southeast, we started already seeing children dying from severe malnutrition,” said Rochdi.

Humanitarian coordinator Rochdi says there are unconfirmed reports that 10 children have died from malnutrition-related causes in the town of Zemio in southeastern C.A.R. She says shelter and protection concerns also are growing.

Another cause for alarm is education. She says 400,000 children are not going to school. She warns nearly a whole generation of children who have lost out on education may not have a viable future. And this, she says, will spell disaster for the whole country.

Source: All African News


Gambia: Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and Accomplices to…

Survivors of human rights violations under the Jammeh regime and international human rights lawyers and advocates, have created the ‘Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and accomplices to Justice.

The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, Article 19 West Africa, Coalition for Change, The Gambia, TANGO, EG (Equatorial Guinea) Justice, Trial International (Switzerland), Human Rights Watch, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, Aid-Free World and La Fondation pour l’egalite chances en Afrique, were present at the launching ceremony held at a hotel in Kololi on Saturday, 21st October 2017.

The joint communiqué was read by Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng who said the victims of human rights violations during the Jammeh regime and human rights lawyers and advocates, met on October 19th and 20th 2017, in Banjul, to deliberate on strategies to hold ex-president Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices accountable for alleged crimes including disappearances, torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and murder, during his regime. She added that they have decided to create the “Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and his Accomplices to Justice”; that they are all committed to attain their ultimate goal, which is to ensure that Yahya Jammeh, as well as those who bear the greatest responsibility in the crimes of his twenty two year old regime, are brought to trial with all due process guaranteed; that they are aware that before Yahya Jammeh could get a fair trial in the Gambia, the rule of law, political, security and institutional concerns must first be addressed.

She called upon Government to exert diplomatic and political leverage to ensure that Yahya Jammeh faces justice with all due process guaranteed. She further called on the Government of Equatorial Guinea to allow Yahya Jammeh to face justice with all due process guaranteed. In addition, she called on ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and all friends of the Gambia, to support the aspirations of the survivors of abuses by the former Jammeh Government.