The ICC-NGO Roundtable coming up on the 14 – 19 of May 2018 at the International Criminal Court Headquaters in the Hague is an important forum for interaction between the court system and the civil society. The African Network on International Criminal Justice will be making its maiden global stage participation with members attending the roundtable and work together to articulate common continental concerns.
President of the National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) Dr Ali bin Smaikh al-Marri has called on the European Parliament to adopt urgent and effective mechanisms and procedures to end the suffering of those affected by the blockade imposed on Qatar.
He also called for including human rights conditions resulting from the blockade in the European Parliament’s annual report, expressing hope that the violations resulting from the blockade of Qatar will be a priority among human rights issues to be discussed at the European Parliament in the coming period.
Speaking at a hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels, Al-Marri urged European Union’s envoy to visit Qatar and the blockading countries to get a close look at human rights violations committed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.
He also made a similar invitation to the European Parliament’s human rights committee.
He stressed that after nearly a year after the blockade, the suffering of the victims continues. They no longer trust the statements of condemnation, and are demanding the need for concrete and effective measures to redress them.
He pointed out that, contrary to the allegations of the blockading countries, they have not taken any action to stop the violations, but launched campaigns to challenge the credibility of those who issued and defame them, and continue to practice political disinformation and escape forward and the fall of public opinion baseless promises, and the establishment of committees to prolong the crisis and try to gain time, Suffering of victims.
In this context, he referred to the visit of the delegation of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to the State of Qatar after which they issued a comprehensive report on the violations of the blockade.
There were also the appeals of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, as well as the issuance of reports from 220 international organizations and trade unions who condemned the 13 demands of the blockading countries, including the closure of Al-Jazeera and all Qatari media, as well as the letters of six special rapporteurs of the UN Human Rights Council to the Saudi Emirati and Bahraini governments, which called on them to take immediate action to stop discriminatory and arbitrary measures, and accountability Tuaduha the perpetrators of the violations.
In response to a question on the extent of the commitment of the blockading countries to lifting restrictions on the right to practice religious rights of citizens and residents in Qatar, the President of the NHRC said that pilgrims from Qatar cannot go to Al Haj or Umrah, one year after the beginning of the blockade.
He added that the Committee intended to invite the Special Rapporteur on freedom of belief to issue an urgent appeal to the Saudi authorities for their continued violation of the right to practice religious rights, and also to visit Qatar and Saudi Arabia in order to assess the extent of suffering and politicization of religious feelings and to monitor citizens and residents right to Haj and Umrah.
In the same context, he called on the Special Rapporteur on freedom of belief to include in his annual report to the Human Rights Council the issue.
The European Parliament’s invitation to the President NHRC is a reflection of the Committee’s efforts to convince international public opinion of the credibility of its reports.
Governed by its founding treaty called the ‘Rome Statute’, the International Criminal Court (ICC), has become the court of last resort that has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Nigeria signed the Rome Statute on June 1,2000, and ratified it on Sept. 27, 2001, thereby becoming the 39th State Party of the International Criminal Court, (ICC).
Afterward, the Federal Ministry of Justice sent an Executive Bill, entitled “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Ratification and Jurisdiction) Bill 2001” to the National Assembly for adoption (pursuant to Section 12 of the 1999 Federal Constitution). The Rome Statute (Ratification and Jurisdiction) Bill, 2006 was passed by both Chambers of the National Assembly, but was not harmonised for assent by the President before the end of the last civilian administration in May 2007.
Relentlesssly, in 2016, the Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, Genocide and Related Offences Bill was drafted again and introduced into the House of Representatives and has since passed 2nd reading. The Nigerian Coalitition on the International Criminal Court together with key National stake holders have been actively involved in broad advocacy to ensure sensitization and implementation of the Bill into law.
The President of the International Criminal Court, Justice Chile Ebue-Osuji, concluded an official visit to Nigeria, where he met with the nation’s top hierarchy to discuss ways of strengthening the international criminal justice system aimed at suppressing impunity for the gravest crimes. While the visit lasted, Osuji emphasised that the Court is keen to work together with states in Africa to bolster the fight against impunity for the gravest international crimes but was however silent on the need to implement the bill into Lawv
The Nigerian Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) in partnership with 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.
The consultative forum was opened by His Excellency, the President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice; Judge Traore Jerome while Mr Femi Falana SAN delivered a key note address. The 2-day workshop had panelists who led discussions on different themes including the recent developments in the jurisdiction of the court, challenges and lessons in the operations and procedures of the court, the future of the ECCJ, ways of improving justice delivery to victims of human rights and humanitarian laws in West Africa, ADR mechanisms, increasing the capacity of the Court and promoting transitional justice in the ECCJ.
The following recommendations were drawn from the discussions, comments, and contributions of the participants.
- That the decision by the Authority of Heads of State and Governments to reduce the number of judges of the ECCJ from seven (7) to five (5) should be reviewed and reversed, and indeed, more judges appointed to the Court for Effective and efficient justice delivery.
- That provision for adequate staffing of the courts is required to meet the increasing demands made on the court by the Community citizens.
- An adequate building and necessary infrastructure should be built for the Court to enable it carry out its mandate and ensure that citizens benefit from the activities of the court.
- A Legal Aid Fund should be established at the Court to facilitate access to justice for indigent victims of human rights abuses.
- That the proposed appellate chambers of the Court should be established. The forum noted that the right of review or appeal against decision of any court is inherent to the right to fair hearing.
- There is need to widen the frontiers of the ECCJ to confer criminal jurisdiction so that it can exercise adjudicatory powers over International crimes.
- That the capacity of the Court can be strengthened through concerted and collaborative efforts of Civil Society Organizations.
- Civil Society Organizations have an enormous role to play by adopting various supportive strategies and mechanisms that will foster the Effective functioning of the Court and in demanding accountability from the government of member states.
- That the statute of limitation on filing human rights violation actions has been removed in the recently delivered judgment of Federation of African Journalists v Republic of Gambia such that human rights actions can be instituted at any given time.
- However, the court should revisit its current position and permit NGOs to file and maintain actions against the government of their member states if their rights as corporate entities are violated. It was resolved that if NGOs can file actions on behalf individuals and groups, the position of the Court should be revised to allow NGOs maintain an action as plaintiffs before the Court.
- It was noted that there is a low level of co-operation between member states and the Court given that only 4 states out of the 15 member states (and recently, the Niger Republic) have established bodies to follow up on enforcement of the decisions of the Court as stipulated in the 2005 Supplementary Protocol of the ECOWAS. It was recommended that governments of member states should make efforts to set up statutorily required implementing authority that will follow up on the decisions of the Court and facilitate enforcement.
- The victims of violations of human rights and humanitarian laws including victims of Sexual and Gender-based violence (SGBV) should be assisted to seek justice from the Court by CSOs. In this regard, justice for victims extends beyond monetary compensations and to also consider justice from the perspective of the victims. The Court should always consider other mechanisms such as psycho-social support to the victims of HR violations.
- The adjudicatory system of conflict resolution may not always be attainable, therefore it is important to explore alternative dispute resolution mechanisms (ADR) by the ECCJ as it saves times, cost, and promotes healthy relationships post-conflict.
- ADR is essential in peace-building, security, and reconciliation. Thus, there should be arbitral rules/guidelines made for the ECCJ to assist the Court to carry out its mandate and there should be an arbitral clause designating the court as the body for ADR.
- There should be established, a multi-door court house and arbitral tribunals in the ECCJ.
- That infrastructural and staff capacity should be built promote use of IT. The court should consider allowing electronic and online filing of case documents in addition to hard copy paper copies as well as deploy more IT tools in its work.
- The Court should collaborate with Universities in bridging the language deficiency gap and also delivery companies to fast-track dispatch of court processes.
- That engagement platform should be created where CSOs can engage policy makers and also lobby them to promote accountability and support them to fulfill their obligations under the ECOWAS treaty.
- CSOs attending the forum resolved to collaborate under the umbrella and name of Coalition for Effective ECOWAS community court of justice, and to support the courts, work with all its organs in strengthen its capacity and systems, and engage with the members states to ensure the integrity, capacity and resources of the court are adequately provided.
- The CSOs resolves to engage with the member states and other institutions to promote political support for the Court.
- The CSOs agree to commission needs assessment research of the ECCJ in order to identify the critical areas of need, and articulate the kind of intervention required to meet those needs.
- The forum’s participants expressed gratitude and appreciation to the president, judges, dean, registrar and other officials of the ECCJ for the progress in the work and jurisprudence of the court, and encourage them to engage more with CSOs to ensure increased efficiency and productivity.
Dated this 12th day of April 2018
Name Title and organisation/agency
- Chino Obiagw Chair Steering Committee, NCICC
- Dr Abiola Akiyode Vice-Chair NCICC
- Benson Olugbo CLEEN Foundation
- Wale Fapohunda WABA
- Brenda Peace TrustAfrica
- Sina Odugbemi HEDA,Lagos
- Hajia Hamsatu Allamin Allamin Foundation
- Chetachi Louis Udeh Alliances for Africa
- Emeka Obegolu ICMC
- Sufiya Bray CSVR
- Mama Koite Doumbia The Trust Fund for Victimes
- Uchechukwu Eze WANEP
- Ossai Ojigbo Amnesty International Nigeria
- Allan Ngari ISS
- Diallo Mamadou Guinee Coalition for the ICC
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!
Name Designation/Organization Signatures
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.