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Trial of Over 1600 Boko Haram Suspects Begins October…

On Monday, 9 October 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) will commence trial of more than 1600 Boko Haram suspects at a Special Court set up by the Federal Government. Trial will begin with detainees in the Wawa Barracks, in  Kainji, Niger State, for which a list of prosecutors to handle the cases have already been approved, and the Legal Aid Council has equally released a list of lawyers to stand in for the suspects.

Beyond this, four judges from the Federal High Court have also been drafted to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously. Mr. Salihu Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Minister in a statement issued 24th September,  listed some of the challenges against the prosecution of the suspected Boko Haram terrorists to include poorly investigated case files arising from pressure during the peak of conflict at the theatre, over reliance on confession based evidence, lack of forensic evidence, absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre investigation stages and poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court for trial, among others.

Isah stated that the trial would be in four categories, including “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 AGF; 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 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 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.”

He noted that given the above categorisation, the number of the suspects affected by any of the aforementioned categories would only be determined when the trial has commenced.

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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 http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/news/20170823/timbuktu-destruction-reactions-landmark-icc-reparations-order

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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  http://allafrica.com/stories/201710030825.html

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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. http://allafrica.com/stories/201710020036.html

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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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International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

26th September marked the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which, according to the United Nations, ‘provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a high priority’. Global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the UN and was the subject of one of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. Today, more than 15,000 nuclear weapons remain, however the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which was adopted on 7 July 2017 marks an important step and contribution towards the common goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To read more about the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, click here.