Press Releases

CALL TO ACTION:Contribute to Strengthening the ECOWAS Court of…

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) in partnership with Trust Africa foundation on April 11 & 12, held a consultative workshop themed around; Strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice and Enhancing Access to Justice in the West Africa Sub-Region, brought together a number of participants from the ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Court of Justice and Civil Society Organizations from the sub-region.

This petition arises from the genuine concerns of the participants at the meeting who noted that it is part of our collective obligation to safeguard and strengthen the adjudicatory body seized with ensuring the observance of law and principles of equity in the West Africa sub-region.

It is our firm belief that the resolution made by the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the ECOWAS Commission in June 2017 at the Monrovia Statutory Meeting, to reduce the number of judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice (ECCJ) from the statutory seven (7) to five (5) and their tenure from 5 years renewable to 4 years nonrenewable is a palpable threat to the effectiveness of the Community Court.

It is noted that since the adoption of the 1991 A/P1/7/91 Protocol (as revised) – granting the ECCJ jurisdiction over human rights issues, a number of community citizens has benefited from the Community Court.

In light of the irrefutable achievements of ECCJ including delivering landmark judgments and setting precedents in novel areas of human rights including but not limited to socio-economic rights; and the impact of the Community Court on other African sub-regions, it has becomes relevant that West African civil societies and individuals stand in solidarity to oppose the unfavorable decision that threatens the existence of ECCJ as a pillar of hope for redress for the various victims of human rights violations in the sub-region.

After due consideration of the rationale for the institutional reform proposed by the Heads of State and Government, we firmly affirm that:

  • The decision to reduce the number of judges has justifiable rationale and will only result in the creation of unnecessary case back logs, thus drastically reduce the effectiveness of the Community Court.

 

  • Heads of State and Government should review their decision and inversely appoint more judges to the ECCJ to enhance effective administration of justice and give hope to the people.

 

  • Heads of States should focus on fulfilling their obligations under the ECOWAS Revised Treaty to set up committees that will facilitate the enforcement of the Court’s decisions.

 

 

  • Our commitment to support the ECOWAS Court of Justice is unwavering

Convinced that civil societies have a leading role to play in the democratic framework of the West Africa sub-region and in addressing the many challenges facing the region, especially in promoting and enhancing social and economic rights and justice, we call upon West African civil societies to join in support of the ECOWAS Court of Justice to preserve and strengthen its mandate by signing this petition calling for the reversal of the decision to reduce the number of judges and their tenure in office.

Together we will strengthen the ECOWAS Court of Justice!

 

Together we will support the pride of the sub-region!

 

Thank you for signing and spreading the petition!

 

Signatories

Name                                              Designation/Organization                            Signatures

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NCICC and Trust Africa Two Days Consultative workshop on…

The Nigerian Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) in partnership TrustAfrica Foundation held a consultative forum on strengthening the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and enhancing access to justice in the sub-region on 11 and 12 April 2018 at the Rock view Hotel Royale Abuja, Nigeria.

The forum was attended by 60 stakeholders and key players across the African continent including Judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice (ECCJ), ECOWAS Commission officials, actors in the ECCJ, CSOs, government officials, and other stakeholders.

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Mali War Crimes Suspect to Appear before Judges in…

An Islamist militant suspected of committing war crimes in Mali is due to appear before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on Wednesday, three days after the Malian authorities handed him over into the court’s custody last week.

The ICC indicted Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud for crimes allegedly committed when he served as the de-facto chief of religious police after his jihadist group seized control of Mali’s capital Timbuktu in 2012.

Charges against him include the destruction of cultural monuments and enforcing policies that led to sexual enslavement of women and girls.

Prosecutors accuse him of being a member of Ansar Dine, one of several Islamist militant groups to have waged an insurgency against the government since 2012.

During his initial appearance, Al Hassan, 40, will be informed of the allegations outlined in his arrest warrant and the court will verify his identity. He is not yet required to enter a plea.

Ansar Dine took over Timbuktu, known for its religious sites dating to its 14th century golden age. It was once a major trading hub and a centre of Sufi Islam – a branch of the religion seen as idolatrous by some hardline Muslim groups.

The group enforced its version of Sharia law. Al Hassan had unveiled women thrown in jail and beaten and was also instrumental in enforcing forced marriages which led to rapes and sexual slavery, according to media reports.

Last year, the ICC sentenced war criminal Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi to nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Mali. He is expected to appear as a witness against Al Hassan.

Victims’ groups had been critical of the limited scope of Al-Mahdi’s indictment, but Al Hassan’s arrest and transfer was hailed as a new stage in Mali persecutions.

“We are satisfied that the court listened to us and widened the scope of prosecutions in the Mali case to include crimes against persons and especially sexual and gender-based crimes,” Moctar Mariko, a Malian human rights activist, said in a statement.

SOURCE: TimesLive https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/africa/2018-04-04-mali-war-crimes-suspect-to-appear-before-judges-in-the-hague/

NCICC Blog

Sudanese Security Files Criminal Charges Against Al-Mahdi

April 3, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s state security prosecutor office Tuesday has filed charges, some of which are punishable by death, against the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi, accusing him of plotting with armed groups to overthrow the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

Last month, the opposition umbrella Sudan Call, which encompasses political and armed groups, held a meeting in Paris and chose AL-Mahdi as its leader.

On Monday, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir threatened to take decisive actions against political parties allied with the rebel groups, saying he would never allow combining the armed action against the state and the political action under any title.

The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) on Tuesday said the state security prosecution has filed criminal charges against AL-Mahdi for dealing and coordinating with the armed movements that seek to topple the regime.

“This comes after the National Intelligence and Security Services filed a petition at the state security prosecution against Sadiq AL-Mahdi and others,” said the SMC

The state security chief prosecutor Muatasim Abdallah directed to file criminal charges under articles 21,25,26,50,51,53,63 and 66 of the 1991 Criminal Code as well as articles 5 and 6 of the Counter-Terrorism Act.

According to the prosecutor, the criminal charges “were filed against the backdrop that AL-Mahdi in his capacity as the chairman of the NUP signed with the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the armed movements a declaration of principles and issued a final communique stating joint coordination to overthrow the regime by force of arms beside inciting the residents through the social media to rebel against the state and to wreak havoc”.

It is noteworthy that the Paris meeting of the Sudan Call has approved a constitutional declaration and a final communiqué calling to adopt peaceful political means to achieve change through peaceful popular uprising or dialogue.

Al-Mahdi since last February is residing outside Sudan. He is expected to remain in Cairo where he is until a meeting with the African Union mediators to discuss the future of the negotiations with the opposition umbrella.

The Sudan Call, which was established in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014, includes the NUP, the rebel umbrella SRF, and the Civil Society Initiative (CSI).

Sudan Call internal groups include the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP), Sudanese Baath Party (SBP), Center Alliance Party (CAP), Sudanese National Party (SNP) and Sudanese National Alliance (SNA).

SOURCE: Sudan Tribune  http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article65090

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1 UN Peace Keeper Killed, 11 Hurt in Central…

Mostly Christian militia fighters attacked a U.N. peacekeeping base in the Central African Republic early Tuesday, and one peacekeeper from Mauritania was killed and 11 others were injured in a gun battle that lasted several hours, the United Nations said.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the attack by the anti-Balaka militias took place at a temporary U.N. peacekeeping base in Tagbara, about 60 miles northeast of the central mining town of Bambari. The peacekeeping mission said more than 22 anti-Balaka fighters died in the clash.

Dujarric said the U.N. peacekeeping mission sent reinforcements to the base, and he strongly condemned the attack.

The U.N. Security Council condemned the attack “in the strongest terms” and reiterated that attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes. Its members called on the Central African Republic government to swiftly investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Separately, Dujarric said, the U.N. mission reported that later Tuesday morning peacekeepers discovered the bodies of 21 civilians, including four women and four children, in Tagbara. The mission said the bodies were found near a church, and the victims had been killed with “traditional weapons.”

The Security Council said it supports an investigation by the U.N. peacekeeping mission to see if the civilian casualties are linked to the attack against the Tagbara base.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack on peacekeepers and is “outraged” at the killing of the 21 civilians and injuries to 14 other civilians, Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general calls on the Central African Republic authorities to investigate these attacks and quickly bring those responsible to justice,” he said.

In another incident, Dujarric said U.N. peacekeepers were informed Monday evening that a rebel group known as the UPC had detained 23 people in Tagbara, including 13 women, seven men and three children. He said they were released peacefully to U.N. peacekeepers and spent the night at the temporary base to ensure their safety.

The U.N. mission condemned the attacks on civilians and said that “nothing can justify these acts that can be considered war crimes.”

It said an investigation will be carried out that “leaves no possibility for impunity.”

Elsewhere, Dujarric said, U.N. peacekeepers and Central African Republic forces launched a joint operation on Saturday and rescued 15 people who had been taken hostage by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.

The LRA has wreaked havoc in central Africa over the years in violent rampages that include the abduction of children. It has taken boys who are then forced to become fighters and girls who become sex slaves, one of the reasons the group has gained international attention in recent times.

The Central African Republic has faced deadly inter religious and inter communal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital, Bangui. Mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back, resulting in thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The impoverished country saw a period of relative peace in late 2015 and 2016 but violence has intensified and spread in the past year.

SOURCE: ABC NEWS http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/peacekeeper-killed-11-hurt-car-attack-54206918

NCICC Blog

Suspected Boko Haram Militants kill At least 15 in…

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria April 2 – A Boko Haram attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri killed at least 15 people and wounded 83, a military spokesman said on Monday, in the biggest strike since the government said it was in talks with the Islamist militant group.

The military said the incident occurred late on Sunday and included gun battles between government troops and the militants as they tried to enter Maiduguri, a city in northeast Nigeria which is the epicentre of a nine-year conflict with Boko Harm that has caused the deaths of more than 20,000 people.

President Muhammadu Buhari has prioritised improving security and has previously declared the defeat of Boko Haram, which is trying to establish an Islamic state and which split into two factions in 2016.

The military said troops clashed with the jihadists in a cashew plantation around Bille Shuwa and Alikaranti villages, near Giwa barracks on the edge of Maiduguri’s inner city, at around 08:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) on Sunday and fought gun battles with government troops during which multiple blasts were heard.

“Fifteen persons including a soldier have so far been confirmed dead in the encounter, while about 83 persons who suffered varying degrees of injuries are receiving due medical attention,” said army spokesman Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu.

He said 13 insurgents had been killed, including seven bombers, adding that the retreating militants attacked locals.

“It is clear that the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists are hell-bent on remaining relevant by attacking soft and vulnerable targets,” Nwachukwu added.

TALKS

It is the most significant attack on the city since the government said last week it was in talks with the insurgents with the aim of securing a permanent ceasefire.

The government has not disclosed which elements of Boko Haram it is in discussions with and it was also not clear which faction carried out Sunday’s attack.

The government has been saying since December 2015 that the jihadist group has been defeated but high-profile attacks in the last few months – including the kidnap of 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi and a strike in the town of Rann that killed three aid workers – has shown the jihadists remain active.

All but one of the girls taken from Dapchi, in Yobe state, on Feb. 19 were returned by the militants in March. The government later said it had negotiated their release as part of broader talks.

In early 2015 Boko Haram controlled a swathe of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium but was forced out of most of that territory by the army with the support of troops from neighbouring countries.

Since then the group has continued to carry out suicide bombings, gun raids and kidnappings in northeastern Nigeria as well as in neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

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Duterte Set to Withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court

 Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte made the controversial decision to withdraw his country from the International Criminal Court amid a probe into alleged crimes against humanity in his brutal anti-drug crackdown that has killed thousands.

In a lengthy statement Wednesday, Duterte accused the ICC and the United Nations of a crusade against him, which he denounced as “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person.”

He said that the court cannot have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate’s ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statue that established the court was never publicized as required by law.

The ICC announced last month that it was opening a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity over alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug crackdown. The president’s brutal war on drugs has killed an estimated 8,000 people since he took office in May 2016.

On Wednesday, Duterte pushed back at the allegations, arguing that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

“The so-called war against drugs is lawfully directed against drug lords and pushers who have for many years destroyed the present generation, [especially] the youth,” he wrote in a 15-page statement. “The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill.”

He continued: “The self-defense employed by the police officers when their lives became endangered by the violent resistance of the suspects is a justifying circumstance under our criminal law, hence, they do not incur criminal li

Duterte initially welcomed the changed to defend his name against ICC’s claims, but Wednesday said the court had shown a “brazen ignorance of the law.”

Duterte has acknowledged his rough ways and tough approach to crime, but suggested many Filipinos have come to accept him.

He has lashed out at European governments, saying they should “go to hell” for imposing conditions on financial aid.

On Wednesday, Duterte also invoked presidential immunity from lawsuits, which he said prevents the ICC from investigating him while he is in office. The president renewed his verbal attacks against U.N. human rights officials who have expressed alarm over the massive killings.

Last Friday, the United Nations’ human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, suggested that Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation” over his “unacceptable” remarks about some top human rights defenders.

Critics expressed shock at Duterte’s decision, saying he was trying to escape accountability and fearing it could foster an even worse human rights situation in the country. Others called the move a foreign policy blunder that could embolden China to scoff at Manila’s victory in an international arbitration case against Beijing over contested territories.

Opposition Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called Duterte’s move to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute a “grave setback to human rights and accountability.”

It is “intended to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity,” Zarate said.

Should the UN accept Duterte’s withdrawal, it would make the Philippines only the second country to withdraw from the Rome statute, following Burundi in 2017.

 

SOURCE; http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/03/14/duterte-withdraws-philippines-from-international-criminal-court.html

Press Releases

NCICC CONGRATULATES JUDGE EBOE OSUJI ON HIS ELECTION AS…

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) sends our warmest congratulations to Judge Chile Eboe Osuji on his election as the President of the International Criminal Court. (ICC) He was elected during a plenary siting of Judges of the ICC on the 11th of March 2018. His tenure is to last for three years.

The International Criminal Court remains the last resort for victims of international crimes and the Presidency being the arm that oversees the registry and organizes the work of judicial decisions, plays an indispensable role in that regard.

The NCICC calls on the newly elected President to expand his leadership role and work closely with the Nigerian government in ensuring that perpetrators of the most heinous crimes are brought to book and reparations for victims highly considered. Nigeria was listed to be on phase 3 of the preliminary investigation stage by the Office of the trial Prosecutor in her annual report in December 2017 having identified eight potential cases involving commission of Crimes against humanity and genocide in 2015.

The NCICC also urges President Eboe-Osuji to give priority to improving the relationship between African governments and people with the Court, in particular, reaching out to the African Union and individual African State Parties. The Court should increase its outreach and communications with the African civil society organisations, victims communities and the African population in order to disseminate the good work of the Court in Africa.

In particular, the Court should dialogue constructively and frankly with the African Union towards opening a liaison office in Addis Ababa, and supporting the African governments in their national efforts to improve the justice system to fight impunity.

The Court should also consider constructive discussions on the proposed initiative to create the criminal chamber of the forthcoming African Court of Justice and Human Rights, represented in the Malabo Protocol, as well as special judicial proceedings of the African Union in order to deepen the complementarity obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

NCICC draws attention of the President to the new Network for Civil Society on International Justice in Africa, made up of national coalitions on the ICC and civil society coalitions in 52 African countries, who are working to promote justice and fight impunity in Africa. This network provides platform for constructive outreach to African people, and for raising civil society support for the Court in Africa.

Finally, we urge the President to open the Forum of African Group in the Assembly of State Parties in order to improve closer relationship and understanding between African governments and the ICC’

We wish the President a very successful tenure and will always be available for support.

Signed

Chino Obiagwu
Chairman, Steering Committee-NCICC

Dr Abiola Akiode-Afolabi
Vice Chairman Steering Committee -NCICC

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Nigerian ELECTED President of the International Criminal Court

Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria was elected president of the International Criminal Court during a plenary sitting of judges on the 1th of March 2018. His tenure is to last for three years beginning immediately

Eboe-Osuji, who said he was deeply honored by his election, has served at the ICC since March 2012 and continues his term through March 2021. “As I take up my duties, I feel encouraged that I am able to rely on the wide experience of the two Vice-Presidents, Judge Robert Fremr and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, both of whom I have closely worked with previously,” said Eboe-Osuji.

Fremr, of the Czech Republic, has served as ICC judge since 2012, while his French counterpart and second vice-president began serving his term in 2015. The presidency is responsible for the proper administration of the ICC in keeping with the Rome Statute that is the authorizing treaty.

The selection of Eboe-Osuji comes after years of dispute and dissatisfaction among African nations who are party to the treaty – Kenya and South Africa among them – and often charge that its authority, established in 2002, unfairly targets Africans. Burundi announced its ICC withdrawal in 2016, while the African Union called on member states to conduct “a more apt review” of their relationships with the court.

Six new ICC judges sworn in on Friday include two Africans. They are Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda, right, and Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou of Benin. There is a total of 18 judges, which also includes Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua of Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Bemba Et Al. Case: Appeals Chamber Issues Its Judgments…

 

On the 8th of March 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its judgments on the appeals against verdict and sentence in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido. Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, read a summary of the judgments in open court highlighting the key findings of the Appeals Chamber.

The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals submitted by the five accused against their conviction. It confirmed the convictions in respect of most of the charges. However, it acquitted Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda of the charge of presenting evidence that a party knows is false or forged (Article 70(1)(b) of the Rome Statute), finding that this provision only applies to the presentation of documentary evidence, not to the calling of witnesses, as in the case at hand. The convictions and acquittals in relation to the five accused are now final.

In relation to the sentences that Trial Chamber VII had imposed, Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido, as well as the Prosecutor, filed appeals. The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals of Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido. The sentences imposed on Mr Babala and Mr Arido are now final.

The Prosecutor had appealed against the sentences imposed on Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda. The Appeals Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s appeal, finding that the Trial Chamber committed several errors with respect to the assessment of the gravity of the offences. In addition, the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber did not have the power to impose suspended sentences, as it had done in relation Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo. The Appeals Chamber reversed the sentences of Mr Bemba, Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo and remanded the matter to the Trial Chamber for a new determination.

Background: On 19 October 2016, Trial Chamber VII found the five accused guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. These offences related to intentionally corruptly influencing witnesses and soliciting false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case before the ICC: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. On 22 March 2017, Trial Chamber VII delivered its Decision on Sentence pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute.

Following these decisions, Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Mr Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Judgment. The Prosecutor as well as Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Sentence.

The Appeals Chamber in these appeals is composed of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, Judge Howard Morrison, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson and Judge Piotr Hofmański.

SOURCE: http://www.haguejusticeportal.net/index.php?id=14469