Prosecuting President Duterte On Crimes Against Humanity

In the face of charges of ordering and condoning the murder of thousands of civilians by the Philippine National Police, President Rodrigo Duterte boasts that he is immune from suit. A former prosecutor himself, Duterte touts immunity as an armor.

The Rome Statute  of the International Criminal Court created the first permanent global criminal court to hear and try genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The Philippines validly ratified the Rome Statute, pursuant to Section 21, Article VII (Executive Department) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution. The Rome Statute entered into force in the Philippines on November 1, 2011.
Its domestic counterpart, the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity (RA 9851) took effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette on December 11, 2009.

Sitting presidents like Duterte can thenceforth be investigated, prosecuted, tried and punished under RA 9851 for war crimes, genocide, or other crimes against humanity before Philippine courts even during their tenure. No impeachment needed. No need for them to finish their term. Those constitute unjustifiable and inexcusable crimes – the gravest forms of human rights violations – and, therefore, absolutely prohibited. The President retains her or his immunity, true; but not for “core crimes” under Art. 5 of the Rome Statute.

RA 9851 purportedly accords immunity to the President, at least during her or his tenure. Under Sec. 9(a), Chapter V (Some Principles of Criminal Liability), the President is supposedly immune from being hauled into court during his or her tenure.

The Rome Statute lacks any provision comparable to the “other than the established constitutional immunity from suit of the Philippine President during his/her tenure” qualifier found in Sec. 9(a) of RA 9851. The Rome Statute’s silence on immunity from suit of heads of state, for “core crimes” punishable under Art 5, speaks volumes. This is precisely because no immunity for genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes exists.

Rome Statute Art. 27, para. 2 (Irrelevance of official capacity) accords no immunity at all to heads of state because, according to its preamble, such crimes are characterized by “unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity”. No immunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide exists since “such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world”.

Shorn of immunity, heads of state can legally be investigated, prosecuted, tried and punished for these crimes in order “to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes”. Breaking the walls of impunity will surely “guarantee lasting respect for and the enforcement of international justice”.

Hence, the Rome Statute provides that immunities “shall not bar the Court from exercising its jurisdiction over such a person.” Instead of according heads of state with immunity, the Rome Statute seeks to destroy impunity. Non-immunity of heads of state from criminal prosecution deters the commission of mass atrocities.

The Rome Statute’s Art. 27 collides with Sec. 9(a) of RA 9851 on presidential immunity from suit for the worst international crimes. Having been a later act of both the President and the Senate, the Rome Statute ratification expresses the latest, specific intent of the President and the Senate – on behalf of the Philippine state – for the President to be legally bound by the Rome Statute, including its Art. 27 provision on the “[i]rrelevance of official capacity”. This later act of ratifying the Rome Statute effectively nullifies the immunity from suit, under Sec. 9(a) of RA 9851, of the President insofar as those crimes are concerned, assuming arguendo that such immunity was valid in the first place.

Furthermore, the Philippine ratification of the Rome Statute indicates the intent on the part of the state to further achieve its purpose in enacting RA 9851 into law. In light of RA 9851’s primary aim and purpose in Sec. 2(e) (Declaration of Principles and State Policies), the proper statutory interpretation then must be that, in ratifying the Rome Statute, the Philippine President and the Senate concurrently intended to reinforce and strengthen RA 9851 by removing any presidential immunity from suit for crimes under RA 9851. This, in order to achieve both RA 9851’s and the Rome Statute’s fundamental objective “to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus contribute to the prevention of such crimes” (Sec. 2[e], RA 9851).

The Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute reflects the subsequent and latest will of the state, as expressed through the President’s signing of the Rome Statute’s instrument of ratification with the subsequent concurrence of the Philippine Senate on August 23, 2011. The effective ratification of the Rome Statute supersedes and repeals Sec 9(a) of RA 9851. It shows its intent to fully carry out and fulfill the Philippine state’s obligation under the Rome Statute and its RA 9851 domestic counterpart to end impunity.

The incorporation clause of the 1987 Constitution (Sec. 2, Art. II) also renders nugatory the presidential privilege of immunity stated in Sec. 9(a) of RA 9851 for being violative of jus cogens principles or peremptory norms of customary international law. The Constitution’s “generally accepted principles of international law” include customary international law, comprising uniform and consistent state practices performed out of a sense of legal obligation. The Rome Statute also embodies jus cogens or peremptory norms of customary international law which are non-derogable. Those cannot be deviated from under any and all circumstances at all times, anywhere in the world. Jus cogens norms prohibit slavery, genocide, torture, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

RA 9851’s presidential immunity from suit is therefore void ab initio. Heads of state have no immunity for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, as established in the Nuremberg judgment [PDF] and the Pinochet decision in Regina v. Bartle. Such “exception” is tantamount to according impunity to sitting presidents for these most egregious forms of international crimes. It’s incompatible with jus cogens or peremptory norms of customary international law.

Source: jurist news


Press Releases




Released  date: October 11th ,2017

As the world commemorates the international Day of the girl child with the theme Empower Girls”, the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court joins the rest of the world to recognize this special day.  The NCICC continues to contribute to the development of the Nigerian woman and indeed the girl child by advocating for access to justice for all, an end to sexual and gender based violence and all contemporary forms of slavery in Nigeria.


Sexual violence and contemporary forms of slavery which includes; early marriage and child marriages are perhaps the most disturbing of girls’ rights violation in the country. The NCICC urges the Nigerian government to make maximum efforts in ensuring access to justice for girls in the society. Every child, and particularly girls, have the right to freedom from all forms of violence. It is an international legal obligation, enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the world’s most widely ratified human rights treaty.


In compliance with article 7 of the Rome statute, the NCICC, whose major priority is to advocate for the domestication of the Rome statute in Nigeria, has embarked on several sensitization projects to promote gender equality and put an end to early marriage, child marriage and all other forms of contemporary slavery prevalent in Nigeria most especially the North eastern part of Nigeria.


The NCICC strongly supports the position of the “Global initiative” to end violence against Children and build a better future for all. We call on the government to tear down the barriers that continue to hold girls back and to fully harness innovations, set economic empowerment programmes to reach poor and marginalized girls and ensure education for young girls and boys reach every part of the country. We advocate strongly for improved quality of education for all. On this day we also remember the Chibok school girls who are still in captivity, expressing solidarity with their families and strongly appealing to the Nigerian government not to relent in its efforts to rescue them even as we hope to build a better future for our girls and children in the diaspora.


The NCICC therefore urges the government to use the values of the United Nations to form a space where all children can safely thrive and develop to their full potential.



Chinonye Obiagwu

Chair, steering Committee




ICC holds two-day psychosocial conference of experts on protecting…


 The International Criminal Court (ICC) hosted a conference on protecting vulnerable groups in witness protection from 4 to 5 October 2017. It was the 4th psycho-social conference of the Europol Network in Witness Protection and was attended by psychological experts from 35 countries and international organizations.

At the conference opening, ICC Vice President and Judge Joyce Aluoch spoke of her first-hand experience throughout her judicial career of witnesses making essential contributions to evidence in cases, and the need for those witnesses to receive adequate psycho-social support.

“As a judge,” she said, “I experienced myself the importance of strong protection and support of vulnerable witnesses. Many witnesses were only able to testify about their often horrific ordeal when they were given the necessary psychological support and protection before, during and after testimony. As a Chamber, we benefitted from the psychological assessments of witnesses and the expert advice provided to us by the psychologists in the Registry, especially whenever questions arose about the well-being of witnesses and their ability to testify. Thanks to the psycho-social support and tailor-made special measures, victims of sexual violence were able to provide strong evidence in court.”

Several visiting experts chaired keynote sessions, including Professor Frank C. Verhulst on the psychological assessment of children, Dr Erik de Soir on secondary traumatisation, and Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist Simone de la Rie on the psychological assessment and support of refugees, war victims and other vulnerable groups.

Throughout the two-day conference, best practices were shared and recommendations made among ICC experts,  visiting scholars and practitioners regarding psychological assessments and interventions in the context of witness protection programmes.. With a focus on supporting vulnerable witnesses, working groups addressed assessment of children, family support, forensic aspects in witness protection, staff welfare models, and monitoring and supporting vulnerable witnesses during the trial phase. Case studies from different countries also offered insight into alternative protection measures.

The ICC Rome Statute provides for witness protection, including psychological well-being. Article 68 of the Rome Statute states “The Court shall take appropriate measures to protect the safety, physical and psychological well-being, dignity and privacy of victims and witnesses.”  According to article 43, measures can include “protective measures and security arrangements, counselling and other appropriate assistance for witnesses, victims who appear before the Court, and others who are at risk on account of testimony given by such witnesses.” It also specifically stipulates that the Registry’s Victims and Witnesses’ Section shall include “staff with expertise in trauma, including trauma related to crimes of sexual violence.”


Source : ICC


ICC: Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Nominations of…

​The Advisory Committee on Nominations of Judges of the International Criminal Court (“the Committee”) held its sixth meeting from 18 to 22 September 2017 in The Hague. The Committee interviewed 12 candidates for six positions of judges at the International Criminal Court, whose nine-year term will start on 11 March 2018. The six judges will be elected at the sixteenth session of the Assembly of States Parties (“the Assembly”), scheduled to be held at United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 4 to 14 December 2017.

The Committee is mandated to facilitate that the highest-qualified individuals are appointed judges of the Court. The Committee was established in 2012 and is composed of nine members who serve three-year terms with the possibility of being re-elected once. The members are nationals of States Parties, reflecting the principal legal systems of the world and an equitable geographical representation as well as a fair representation of both genders. Its members are persons of a high moral character, who have established competence and experience in criminal or international law and who serve in the Committee in their personal capacity.

The assessment of the candidates for judges is based strictly on article 36, paragraphs 3 (a), (b) and (c), of the Rome Statute. The Committee considers written material submitted by the candidates and emphasizes the importance of face-to-face interviews. The candidacies are submitted under List A or List B as described in article 36, paragraph 3, of the Rome Statute, which requires “established competence in criminal law and procedure, and the necessary relevant experience, whether as a judge, prosecutor, advocate or in other similar capacity, in criminal proceedings” or “established competence in relevant areas of international law such as international humanitarian law and the law of human rights, and extensive experience in a professional legal capacity which is of relevance to the judicial work of the Court”. Candidates must be persons of high moral character, impartiality and integrity, have an excellent knowledge of and be fluent in at least one of the working languages of the Court and shall be available to serve on that basis from the commencement of their terms of office.

The report of the Committee (ICC-ASP/16/7) on the work at its sixth meeting may be found at the webpage of the Assembly. Further information about the Committee may be found at the Committee’s webpage.




A judge of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday withdrew his participation in the trial of eight Boko Haram terrorists after the defendants cast a vote of no confidence against the court.

The suspects were arraigned for the killing of five foreigners who were abducted from a construction site in Kebbi State in 2011.

The suspects are also accused of alleged culpability in the murder of seven other foreigners in Borno State.

The seven were abducted from another construction site in Bauchi State in February 2013 and taken to the Sambisa forest where they were later killed.

The judge, John Tsoho, said the demands of the defendants were clear enough to be considered by his court ”regardless of how it was made.”

The defendants, comprising the first, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants had at the commencement of session on Tuesday demanded a transfer of the matter, on the basis that they were not sure they would get justice in the case.

According to a lawyer representing the defendants, Samuel Attah, the reason for the application was because of a decision of the court to revoke a previous order it had made asking the State Security Service hand over the suspects to the Nigerian Prisons Service.

Mr. Attah said his clients were surprised that the court later revoked the initial order and asked that the defendants to be detained by the SSS.

Similarly, the lawyer representing the seventh defendant, Ellasha Oloruntoba told the court that based on its decision regarding the detention of the defendants, ”his client felt he would be better tried by another court.”

The defendants also complained of failing health and alleged that their appearance in court for the trial is ”constituting a threat to their lives.”

However, the second and third defendants specifically asked the court not to transfer their case. Their lawyers, Leonard Obiji and Nathaniel Odejinle, asked the court to separate the cases of their clients so that their trial would continue in the same court.

Responding, the judge, Mr. Tsoho said his court would take due cognisance of the application of all the defendants.

“The defendants are asking for a transfer of the case. The defendants also prayed for a trial de-novo. They allege that standing trial in the court is a threat to their life.

“The message the defendants is seeking is clear enough. This court must not disregard their plea, no matter how they have made it.

“This court disqualifies itself from continuing with this case. Accordingly, this case file shall be transferred to the Chief Judge to be assigned to another court,” Justice  Tsoho said.



Culled from premium times


Timbuktu destruction: Reactions to landmark ICC reparations order

The prosecution of al-Mahdi for his part in the destruction of 10 UNESCO-protected monuments presented a landmark trial for the ICC © MINUSMA/Marco Dorminus
On 17 August the ICC delivered its first reparations order for the war crime of destruction of cultural property. The Court found Malian Islamist Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi – who had pled guilty last year to intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu in 2012 – personally liable for 2.7 million euros of the harms linked to his war crimes conviction.

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi was sentenced to nine years in prison by ICC judges in October 2016 for his part in the destruction of 10 historic and religious monuments between June and July 2012 in Timbuktu, home to thousands of precious manuscripts, mausoleums of local saints and historic structures that were widely used and revered by the local population. To read more about the reparation order, click


Assembly of States Parties 2017

From 4-14 December 2017, International Criminal Court (ICC) member states will gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP).

During annual ASP sessions, stakeholders in the international justice system discuss and decide upon matters key to the future functioning of the ICC. To read more about the upcoming ASP click



Meet the 2017 Judicial Candidates Of the ICC

ICC member states Lesotho, Uganda, Croatia, Mongolia, Benin, Japan, Bosnia, Peru, Uruguay, Canada, Ghana and Italy have nominated 12 candidates for election to six soon-to-be vacant judicial positions at The Hague-based Court.


ICC member states have nominated 12 candidates for election to six soon-to-be vacant judicial positions at The Hague-based Court.

The election follows the Court’s regular judicial elections process, which replaces a third of the 18 judges’ bench every three years. The new judges will serve a nine-year term from March 2018. To read more about the election, click



Cameroon: UN Secretary-General Urges Dialogue to Resolve Grievances

Strongly condemning recent violence in south-west and north-west regions of Cameroon, including reported loss of life, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged all stakeholders to refrain from any further acts of violence and called on the authorities to investigate the incidents.

In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, the Mr. Guterres urged “political leaders on both sides to appeal to their followers to refrain from any further acts of violence, and to unequivocally condemn all actions that undermine the peace, stability and unity of the country.”

“[He] takes note of the calls by the authorities for dialogue and encourages representatives of the Anglophone community to seize the opportunity in their quest for solutions to the community’s grievances, within the framework of the Cameroonian constitution,” the statement added.

The Secretary-General reiterates the support of the United Nations for such efforts, through the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the statement noted.

Culled from UN news


Cameroon: Soldiers in Cameroon Shoot Dead Several Independence Activists

Government forces in the central African nation killed at least eight people and wounded several more amid a crackdown on activists who wish to secede from the country.

One demonstrator was killed by soldiers when he attempted to raise the blue and white Ambazonia flag, which is the name the separatists want for their own state.

Donatus Njong Fonyuy, the mayor of Kumbo, told Reuters that five prisoners were also shot dead after a fire broke out at the local jail. The cause of the fire was unclear.

Divisions deepen in Cameroon

The anglophones, who make up some 20 percent of the nation’s population,complain of being marginalized and not getting their fair share of the country’s oil revenue.

Marginalization has long been a complaint, but the separatist movement began gathering steam late last year. Sunday’s protests were timed to coincide with the anniversary of anglophone Cameroon’s independence from Britain and reunification with the rest of the nation in 1961. The region could have gone its own way back then and become a sovereign state but opted to join their francophone compatriots.

One separatist group made a symbolic proclamation of independence on Sunday.

“We are no longer slaves of Cameroon,” said Sisiku Ayuk, who describes himself as the “president” of Ambazonia.

“Today we affirm the autonomy of our heritage and our territory,” he said on social media on Sunday.

The recent protests have also become a rallying point against President Paul Biya, who has ruled over Cameroon for the past 35 years.

Businesses were closed in the region’s two main cities, Buea and Bamenda, as army helicopters flew over the largely deserted urban centers.

The deployment included troops from the army’s Rapid Intervention Brigade (BIR), a unit that more frequently fights Boko Haram – the Islamist militants occupying much of the north of the country.

Security forces were deployed on the outskirts of Buea and armed with water cannons to prevent a group of protesters from entering the city from a nearby town. The demonstrators chanted and waved the Ambazonia flag.

“I now know that the Biya regime has been raising an army all these years to fight its own people,” said one resident, who insisted on anonymity out of fear of reprisal.

“We are simply fighting for our rights, but the military, which is supposed to protect lives and property, has turned into our greatest nightmare,” she said.

“We are ready to die for the freedom of our land,” Kenneth Agborbechem, one of the protesters, told dpa news agency.

Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary warned journalists not to give a voice to separatist groups.

“The media must not encourage those who advocate division, who want to destroy and destabilize our country,” he told Reuters.

culled from deutsche welle news.