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Passing of M. Cherif Bassiouni, “the Godfather of International…

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After ignoring rights recommendations, govt claims ‘big victory’ in…

After dismissing recommendations on ending extrajudicial killings, not just the thousands associated with the war on drugs but also those protecting journalists and human rights defenders, the government claimed a “big victory” in the review of its record by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Anti killings rally

“The Philippines scored a big victory in Geneva on the 22nd of September 2017 when the United Nations Human Rights Council overwhelmingly adopted Manila’s human rights report card. Readmorehttp://www.interaksyon.com/after-ignoring-rights-recommendations-govt-claims-big-victory-in-geneva/

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Trump Threatens Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea

Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 19. That threat violates the UN Charter, and indicates an intent to commit genocide, crimes against humanity, the war crime of collective punishment and international humanitarian law. Moreover, a first-strike use of nuclear weapons would violate international law.

By threatening to attack North Korea, Trump is endangering the lives of countless people. In the past, he has indicated his willingness to use nuclear weapons and Kim Jong-un has threatened to retaliate. The rapidly escalating rhetoric and provocative maneuvers on both sides has taken us to the brink of war.

 

Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, September 19, 2017, in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Trump’s threat prompted North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong-ho to state, “Given the fact that this [threat] came from someone who holds the seat of the US presidency, this is clearly a declaration of war.”

Ri added, “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make counter-measures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

To read more stories like this, visit Human Rights and Global Wrongs.

Such a move by North Korea would violate international law. But that does not justify US law-breaking. Two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, the use of military force by either country would prove disastrous.

The UN Charter Requires Peaceful Dispute Resolution

After two world wars claimed millions of lives, the UN Charter was adopted in 1945 “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.”

The Charter mandates the peaceful resolution of international disputes and forbids the use of force except in self-defense or with Security Council authorization.

Article 2 requires that UN members “settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.” Peaceful means are spelled out in Article 33: Parties to a dispute likely to endanger international peace and security must “first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”

In 1953, after one-third of North Korea’s population was decimated, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement. But the US never allowed a peace treaty to be adopted. North Korea has repeatedly advocated the signing of a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. To this day, 30,000 US troops continue to occupy South Korea.

By stating the intention to totally destroy North Korea, Trump has threatened genocide.

The US has also refused to pursue the “freeze-for-freeze” strategy suggested by China and Russia. Under this plan, North Korea would freeze its nuclear and missile testing, and the US and South Korea would end their annual, provocative joint military exercises. Vassily Nebenzya, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said this path would offer “a way out” of the current situation.

Instead, the US has engineered punitive sanctions against North Korea, which have only strengthened the latter’s resolve to develop usable nuclear weapons. Since 1953, North Koreans have lived in fear of annihilation by the United States.

In his speech to the General Assembly, on top of his threats toward North Korea, Trump also issued a veiled threat to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. That sends a dangerous message to North Korea that the US cannot be trusted to abide by its agreements.

The UN Charter Prohibits Threats and Preemptive Use of Force

Article 2 of the Charter states that all members “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea violates that mandate. In addition, the preemptive use of force violates the Charter.

The only exceptions to the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force are self-defense or approval by the Security Council.

Self-defense, under Article 51 of the Charter, is a narrow exception to the Charter’s prohibition of the use of force. Countries may engage in individual or collective self-defense only in the face of an armed attack. In order to act in lawful self-defense, there must exist “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation,” under the well-established Caroline Case.

North Korea has not attacked the United States or another UN member country, nor is such an attack imminent.

Moreover, the Security Council has not authorized any country to use military force against North Korea. The council resolutions that establish sanctions against North Korea end by stating the Council “decides to remain seized of the matter.” That means that the Council, and only the Council, has the authority to approve military action.

Both Trump’s threat to use military force against North Korea and the mounting of a preemptive strike would violate the Charter.

The Crime of Genocide

By stating the intention to totally destroy North Korea, Trump has threatened genocide.

The crime of “genocide,” as defined in the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, is committed when, with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, any of the following acts are committed: killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, or deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its destruction in whole or in part.

Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea, if carried out, would destroy, in whole, the national group of North Koreans. That would amount to genocide.

Crimes Against Humanity

Under the Rome Statute, “crimes against humanity” include: the commission of murder as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population; or persecution against a group or collectivity based on its political, racial, national, ethnic or religious character, as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population.

Trump’s threat to totally destroy North Korea, if realized, would constitute a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of North Korea, which would amount to a crime against humanity.

The War Crime of Collective Punishment

The crime of “collective punishment” is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which is considered a war crime. Collective punishment means punishing a civilian for an offense he or she has not personally committed.

If Trump were to make good on his threat to totally destroy North Korea, he would be punishing the civilian population for offenses committed by the North Korean government. This would constitute the war crime of collective punishment.

Destroying North Korea Would Violate Distinction and Proportionality

The United States has a legal obligation to comply with the requirements of proportionality and distinction, two bedrock principles of international humanitarian law, as delineated in the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

“Proportionality” means an attack cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage sought. “Distinction” requires that the attack be directed only at a legitimate military target.

The total destruction of North Korea would violate the principles of proportionality and distinction.

First-Strike Use of Nuclear Weapons Violates International Law

In its 1996 advisory opinion, “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.”

The ICJ went on to say, “However … the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defence, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.” That means that while the use of nuclear weapons might be lawful when used in self-defense if the survival of the nation were at stake, a first-strike use would not be.

Donald Trump’s apocalyptic threat against North Korea violates international law. It also imperils the lives of untold numbers of people. We must urge Congress to prevent Trump from launching a catastrophic war.

culled from truth.orghttp://www.truth-out.org/news/item/42101-trump-threatens-genocide-crimes-against-humanity-in-north-korea

 

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UN rights experts urge Member States to ‘go beyond…

Expulsions, Murder, Rape, Persecution of Rohingya

(New York) – Burmese security forces are committing crimes against humanity against the Rohingya population in Burma, Human Rights Watch said today. The military has committed forced deportation, murder, rape, and persecution against Rohingya Muslims in northern Rakhine State, resulting in countless deaths and mass displacement.

Rohingya refugees shortly after arrival in Bangladesh.

The United Nations Security Council and concerned countries should urgently impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on the Burmese military to stop further crimes against humanity, Human Rights Watch said. The Security Council should demand that Burma allow aid agencies access to people in need, permit entry to a UN fact-finding mission to investigate abuses, and ensure the safe and voluntary return of those displaced. The council should also discuss measures to bring those responsible for crimes against humanity to justice, including before the International Criminal Court. Readmore https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/25/burma-military-commits-crimes-against-humanity

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Rwanda: Post-Election Political Crackdown

Arrests, Enforced Disappearances, Threats Against Opponents;

 

Would-be independent presidential candidate Diane Rwigara is seen being taken to the police station for interrogation in Kigali, Rwanda, September 4, 2017.

 

Rwandan authorities have arrested, forcibly disappeared, and threatened political opponents since the August 2017 presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today. The incumbent, Paul Kagame, won the election with a reported 98.79 percent of the vote.

Those targeted include a would-be independent presidential candidate, Diane Rwigara, and her family members and supporters, and several leaders and members of the Forces démocratiques unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi opposition party. read morehttps://www.hrw.org/news/2017/09/28/rwanda-post-election-political-crackdown

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Trial of Pennsylvania Resident and Alleged Liberian War Criminal…

Trial of Pennsylvania Resident and Alleged Liberian War Criminal Jabbateh “Jungle Jabbah” Set to Begin in Philadelphia October 2, 2017.

According to Civitas Maxima, Philadelphia, PA – The U.S. Government’s immigration fraud case against Liberian citizen, Pennsylvania resident and alleged war criminal Jabbateh, a/k/a “Jungle Jabbah” begins on October 2, 2017 in Philadelphia. Jabbateh has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with two counts of fraud in immigration documents and two counts of perjury. read morehttps://www1.hnewsletter.ch/hosting/civitasmaxima/?action=view&iv=b45400be4ea4b1b7250fb4677bf9aa597fee1650d00d71aa56ba0a93311689f5&en=69a8d86f5b66741ed822db44ee

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Nigeria’s military approach against separatists stokes more tension

Nigeria’s military has reacted heavy-handedly to  the growing separatist swell in the south-east among organisations claiming to be the successors of the failed late-1960s Biafra secessionist movement. This month the military embarked on ‘Operation Python Dance’, a show of force to try to quell the Biafra agitation.

The exercise targeted the supporters of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader Nnamdi Kanu, who has been central to the Biafra agitation since 2015. Several pro-Biafrans have been arrested and the military has been accused of brutality, arbitrary killings and torture. Over 150 IPOB supporters were killed on last year’s Biafran Remembrance Day, human rights group Amnesty International reported. Read more https://issafrica.org/iss-today/nigerias-military-approach-against-separatists-stokes-more-tension

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Burundi | Crimes warrant ICC investigation and Human Rights…

In the face of mounting evidence of crimes against humanity committed with impunity by Burundian authorities, 35 African and international NGOs call on the Human Rights Council to push for investigation and prosecution by the International Criminal Court and for Burundi’s Council membership. This call was further elaborated by ISHR in a statement to the Council. A Council-mandated Commission of Inquiry, reporting at the current September session, has confirmed the continuation of serious human rights violations from April 2015 to date. Read more http://www.ishr.ch/news/burundi-crimes-warrant-icc-investigation-and-human-rights-council-suspension

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How Cameroon torture, abuse and forcefully return thousands of…

Cameroon’s military has carried out a mass forced return of 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers in an effort to stem the spread of Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Wednesday.

The deportations defy the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to northeast Nigeria “until the security and human rights situation has improved considerably,” and leaves deportees facing spiralling violence, displacement and destitution.

The 55-page report, “‘They Forced Us Onto Trucks Like Animals’: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees,” documents that since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers have tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas, denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria. It also documents violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.

“The Cameroonian military’s torture and abuse of Nigerian refugees and asylum seekers seems to be driven by an arbitrary decision to punish them for Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon and to discourage Nigerians from seeking asylum,” said Gerry Simpson, associate refugee director at Human Rights Watch. “Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in northeast Nigeria, not return them there.”

In late June and July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria about the abuses they faced in Cameroon. They said soldiers had accused them of belonging to Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant Islamist group, or of being “Boko Haram wives” while torturing or assaulting them and dozens of others on arrival, during their stay in remote border areas, and during mass deportations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has heard similar accounts from Nigerians living in Cameroon’s border areas.

Some said their children, weakened after living for months or years without adequate food and medical care in border areas, died during or just after the deportations, and others said children were separated from their parents.

An asylum seeker who was deported from Mora in March 2017 described how without warning, Cameroonian soldiers rounded up 40 asylum seekers “and severely beat us and forced us onto a bus. They beat some of the men so badly, they were heavily bleeding. When we got to the Nigerian border they shouted ‘Go and die in Nigeria.’”

Refugees who reached Cameroon’s only designated camp for Nigerian refugees, in Minawao, have also faced violence from Cameroonian soldiers. While they have some protection as refugees, the approximately 70,000 people there have had limited access to food and water and abusive restrictions on their movement. In April and May, 13,000 returned from Minawao to a displacement camp in Banki, just across the border in Nigeria. Some were killed in early September when Boko Haram attacked the camp.

Although UNHCR does not have reliable access to most of Cameroon’s border areas with Nigeria, in early June it said its monitoring partners found Cameroon had forcibly returned almost 100,000 Nigerians to their country since January 2015. In late June, the Nigerian authorities responded to Cameroonian pressure by sending military vehicles over the border to help Cameroon deport almost 1,000 asylum seekers. That made Nigeria complicit in the unlawful forced return of its own citizens.

Tens of thousands of deportees from Cameroon end up in insecure militarized displacement camps or villages in Borno State, where conditions are dire, and women and girls face sexual exploitation. These sites are surrounded by the ongoing conflict between Nigeria’s armed forces and Boko Haram, which as of mid-September had displaced almost 2 million other Nigerian civilians.

Cameroon’s forced returns are a breach of the principle of nonrefoulement, which prohibits the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers to persecution and, under regional standards in Africa, to situations of generalized violence, such as in northeast Nigeria.

Since 2014, Cameroonian armed forces have carried out operations against Boko Haram in the country’s Far North Region. Cameroon has the right to regulate the presence of non-nationals on its territory, including those proven to be threat to its national security. The authorities also have an obligation to carefully investigate attacks in Cameroon by suspected Boko Haram members. However, it may not block refugees from seeking asylum and summarily deport them.

After staying publicly silent on the situation for two years, in late March, UNHCR publicly criticised the authorities for their mass forced refugee returns. The criticism was triggered by deportations after Cameroon had signed an agreement that month with Nigeria and UNHCR confirming that it would ensure that all refugee return was voluntary.

As of mid-September, the Cameroonian authorities had allowed UNHCR only to pre-register asylum seekers in some border communities, leaving those pre-registered and tens of thousands of other asylum seekers without access to meaningful protection and putting them at risk of deportation.

The Cameroonian authorities deny any forced return or abuse of Nigerian asylum seekers and have not replied to a Human Rights Watch request for a response to the report’s findings. Cameroon has had a reputation as a generous country toward refugees since the early 1970s and it has hosted tens and then hundreds of thousands of refugees since then.

“Faced with overwhelming evidence of mass refugee abuse and UN condemnation, Cameroon is trying to bury its head in the sand,” Simpson said. “But returning tens of thousands of Nigerians to harm and destitution will only further shred its well-deserved reputation as a generous refugee-hosting country.” culled from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/244317-cameroon-torture-abuse-forcefully-return-thousands-nigerian-refugees-hrw.html

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Attorney General of the Federation Set To Commence Trial…

The Attorney General of the Federation has announce its readiness to begin the arraignment of  Boko Haram suspects in various detention facilities in the country. It is slated to kick-start tentatively on Monday, October 7, 2017.

Below is the report from the office of the Attorney General;

 

STATUS OF TERRORISM CASES as at 11th Sept 2017

Concluded cases:  13

Convictions:  9

Ongoing trials at various Federal High Court Divisions:  33 cases

Charges filed awaiting trial in Kainji:  116 cases

Detainees recommended for release / deradicalisation programme for want of evidence:  220

Detainees profiled at the Kainji Detention Facility awaiting judicial proceedings / deradicalisation programme.  1670

Detainees remanded at the Federal High Court, Maiduguri and transferred from Giwa Barracks to Maiduguri Prisons: 651

 

SOME CHALLENGES

  • Poorly investigated case files due to pressure during the peak of conflict at the theater.
  • Over reliance on confession based evidence.
  • Lack of forensic evidence.
  • Absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre- investigation stages.
  • Poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court for trial.
  • Scarcity of skilled/trained forensic personnel to handle investigation of complex cases.
  • Inadequate security for counsel handling terrorism cases.
  • Converting military intelligence to admissible evidence.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

  1. The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has approved a list of prosecutors to handle the cases and the Legal Aid Council has equally released a list of defence counsels to stand in for the detainees/defendants.
  2. The proposed prosecutions of over One Thousand, Six Hundred (1600) detainees held in Kainji will commence by early October, 2017 after the opening of the new legal year.
  3. Currently, four (4) judges have been deputed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously.
  4. It is expected that the special prosecutions will start with the detainees in Kainji followed closely by the disposal of the cases of the detainees in Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri until the cases are exhausted.
  5. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the coordinator of terrorism matters is expected to assist the court by providing the relevant detainees access to deradicalisation programmes where necessary.

This is the report of the on-the-spot assessment of the facilities and other incidentals preparatory to the commencement of trial of the over 1600 suspected Boko Haram terrorist  detained in  military detention facility  located in Wawa Barracks, Kainji, New Bussa, Niger State following successes recorded by the Nigeria Army and other security agencies in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.

A team comprising representative of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Federal High Court and the Office of the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation were dispatched to Kainji from the 12th to 14th of September, 2017 to carry out the assessment and to discuss with relevant authorities and organisation in final preparation of the all-important national assignment.

Categorisation of the suspects

It will be noted that there are four categories of suspects at the Kainji detention facility mentioned above. These suspects are;

Boko Haram suspects who were hitherto investigated by the Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters otherwise known as DHQ/JIT and case files transmitted to the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and after a careful review of the cases based on their individual merit, it was discovered that they have no prima facie cases that will sustain a charge against them in any court of law hence were recommended for release and handed over to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for rehabilitation and/or de-radicalisation.

The second category is the set of suspects that the Honourable Attorney-General found prima facie cases against them and charges already filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division who are also mostly in the detention facility under reference and may be willing to plead guilty for a lesser sentences.

The other category are the suspects whose case file are either recommended for further investigation or that have no investigation conducted on them at all hence they do not have case files that will warrant the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation to form any opinion in respect of their case.

Lastly, the fourth category is the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.

From the above categorisation, it is important to state that the number of the suspects affected by any of the aforementioned categories would only be determined when the trial has commenced.

Comrade Salihu Othman Isah

Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN