News

Deliberate Famine Should Be a War Crime: UN Expert

Conflicts have proliferated around the world and with them has come a rise in food insecurity. Credit: Reuters

The deliberate starvation of civilians could amount to a war crime and should be prosecuted, said an independent UN human rights expert.

In a new report, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Hilal Elver, examined the right to food in conflict situations and found a grim picture depicting the most severe humanitarian crisis since the UN was established.

“Contrary to popular belief, casualties resulting directly from combat usually make up only a small proportion of deaths in conflict zones, with most individuals, in fact perishing from hunger and disease,” she said.

Conflicts have proliferated around the world and with them has come a rise in food insecurity.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the proportion of undernourished people living in countries in conflict and protracted crises is almost three times higher than that in other developing countries.

In five conflict-stricken countries alone, approximately 20 million are facing famine and starvation.

Another estimated 70 million people in 45 countries currently require emergency food assistance, a 40% increase from 2015.

Since the human right to food is a universal one, Elver noted that countries and other parties to conflicts must act and avoid using food as a weapon of war.

 

“If the famine [occurs] from deliberate action by state or other players, using food as a weapon of war is an international crime and there is an individual responsibility to that,” she said.

“The international community should make it clear that this is a war crime or a crime against humanity, otherwise we will give a certain permission [to it],” Elver continued.

In Yemen, rates of acute malnutrition have increased dramatically since the beginning of the civil war in 2015, making it the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Approximately 60% of the population are food insecure while seven million are at risk of famine and acute food insecurity, a situation that is expected to worsen without an increase in emergency food assistance.

According to the World Food Programme, over three million children and pregnant or nursing women are acutely malnourished, making them susceptible to communicable diseases such as cholera.

Already, a severe cholera outbreak that began in April has killed over 2,000 people and has exacerbated the nutrition crisis.

Parties to the ongoing conflict have played a significant and deliberate role in the decreased access to food, including a Saudi Arabia-imposed aerial and naval blockade on a country which previously imported 90% of its food.

Air strikes carried out by the coalition have also targeted the country’s agricultural sector including farms, further limiting access to food, while sieges by Houthi fighters in numerous cities have prevented staple items from reaching civilians.

Ta’izz, the Middle Eastern country’s second-largest city, was besieged by Houthi fighters for over a year, causing blockages in supply routes and dire food shortages.

Elver said that Yemen is a “clear situation” where famine constitutes a crime against humanity in which both the Saudi-led coalition and Houthis are responsible.

She noted, however, that there is still widespread impunity in situations when famine is deliberately caused and pointed to the International Criminal Court as an example which has not prosecuted individuals responsible for such crises.

Though UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has included the Saudi-led coalition in his annual shame list for violations against children, Elver called for the creation of legal mandates to prevent famine and protect people’s right to food.

This includes the development of international legal standards to reinforce the norm that deliberate starvation is a war crime or a crime against humanity and the referral of the most serious cases to the ICC for investigation and potential prosecution.

The formal recognition of famine as a crime can prevent the tendency of governments “to hide behind a curtain of natural disasters and state sovereignty to use hunger as a genocidal weapon,” the report states.

“We can see the famine coming, it doesn’t just happen in one day,” Elver said.

Source: The wire

https://thewire.in/191159/deliberate-famine-war-crime-un-expert/

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Human Rights Abuses by Army: Presidential Panel Begins Sitting…

The Presidential Investigation Panel instituted to review compliance of the Armed Forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement on Tuesday began sitting at Ikeja High Court in Lagos. The seven presidential investigation panels were inaugurated by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Aug. 11 as Acting President.
The panels will be sitting in the six geopolitical zones of the country on various dates from Sept. 11 to Nov. 3 with the Southwest Panel sitting in Lagos from Oct. 23 to Oct. 26. It is to hear at least six petitions of alleged human rights abuses brought against the Armed Forces by various individuals. The panel’s terms of reference are to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the Armed Forces of Nigeria and extent of compliance thereto. Also, it is to investigate alleged acts of violation of international humanitarian and human rights law under the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, Geneva Convention Act, African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other relevant laws by the Armed Forces in local conflicts and insurgencies.

It is also to investigate matters of conduct and discipline in the armed forces in local conflicts and insurgencies and recommend means of preventing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in conflict situation. They are also expected to make further recommendations in line with the terms of reference as may be deemed necessary. The eight-man panel headed by Justice Biobele Georgewill of the Court of Appeal include retired Maj.-Gen. Patrick Akem, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda and Prof. Hauwa Ibrahim. Others are Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Mrs. Ifeoma Nwakama, Mr. Abba Ibrahim and Mr Adamu Abdulkadir.

Source: Vanguard;

News

Director-General rescinds Goodwill Ambassador appointment

WHO statement
22 October 2017

Over the last few days, I have reflected on my appointment of H.E. President Robert Mugabe as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases in Africa. As a result I have decided to rescind the appointment.

I have listened carefully to all who have expressed their concerns, and heard the different issues that they have raised. I have also consulted with the Government of Zimbabwe and we have concluded that this decision is in the best interests of the World Health Organization.

It is my aim to build a worldwide movement for global health. This movement must work for everyone and include everyone.

For me, what is important is to build political leadership and create unity around bringing health to all, based on WHO’s core values.

I remain firmly committed to working with all countries and their leaders to ensure that every one has access to the health care they need.

We must build bridges that bring us together and help us move forward in our quest to achieve universal health coverage.

I thank everyone who has voiced their concerns and shared their thoughts. I depend on constructive debate to help and inform the work I have been elected to do.

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Burundi-ICC: The legal consequences of opening of the investigation…


1. Background

 

Since Nkurunziza Pierre’s decision to run for a third term in violation of the constitution and the historic Arusha peace and reconciliation agreement of Burundi, in April 2015, Burundi has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis with an escalating violence. According to estimates by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), between 26 April 2015 and 30 August 2016, at least 564 cases of executions have been registered. By the end of April 2016, the OHCHR office in Burundi had documented 36 enforced disappearances, 3477 arbitrary arrests or detentions, 651 cases of torture and 19 cases of sexual violence since the beginning of the crisis.

Burundi has been a State party to the Rome Statute since 1 December 2004. The International Criminal Court (hereinafter referred to as the ICC) has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, crimes of genocide and war crimes committed on territory of Burundi or by Burundian nationals as from that date.

The evolution of the situation in the country has thus legitimately attracted the attention of the ICC Prosecutor who twice expressed his concerns about the Preliminary examination is the initial phase of any proceeding before the ICC, in which the ICC Prosecutor’s Office determines “whether there is a reasonable basis for initiating an investigation”

The reaction of the Burundian state was not long in coming and on October 7, 2016, he announced his intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute. On October 12, 2016, the two Houses of Parliament of Burundi had already passed the bill of withdrawal, in an unprecedented rush, President Nkurunziza promulgated the law on October 18, 2016. On October 27, 2016, Burundi officially notified its withdrawal to the Secretariat United Nations.

In the past, threats of such action have not been lacking, but so far no state has so clearly demonstrated its willingness to complete the withdrawal. However, following the steps taken by Burundi on 21 October 2016, South Africa expressed the same desire and the day itself became the first country to formally withdraw from the Rome Statute, 11 opening the door to a “Domino effect”. Indeed, this road has already been undertaken by The Gambia, which announced its intention to withdraw on 25 October 2016. Fortunately, it recanted itself in favor of the change of institutions that took place in that country with the overthrow of the President Yahya Jammeh,

 

The South African justice also invalidated the government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, to say that ultimately only Burundi actually withdrew

The purpose of this contribution is to explore the legal consequences of Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the ICC on the current preliminary examination and the possible continuation of the proceedings, by analyzing the relevant provision of the Rome Statute (1). °). It aims to probe the avenues that are opening up in such a situation, including the possibility of continuing the preliminary investigation and the initiation of the investigation itself. This despite the expiration of a period of one year after notification of withdrawal to the Rome Statute. It will finally question the future of the international justice system based on the ICC, once the ICC does not use its prerogatives to prosecute the perpetrators of serious crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015

  1. The possibility for Burundi to withdraw to the Rome Statute

The Rome Statute expressly provides for the possibility of a State withdrawing from the treaty and specifying its terms and limitations. According to what Art. 127 (1), “Any State Party may, by written notification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, withdraw from this Statute”.

Burundi’s withdrawal from the International Criminal Court responds to a wish of the African Union because it deems it biased. But the withdrawal can not be formulated by the set of States, because the accession was made individually and the withdrawal is done individually

Art. 127 (1) goes on to say that “the withdrawal takes effect one year after the date on which the notice was received, unless the notice provides for a later date”. Thus, only from the receipt of the withdrawal instrument the period of one year begins to run. The withdrawal will not be effective for Burundi until 27 October 2017. Until the expiry of the deadline, Burundi remains a State party  with all the obligations arising therefrom..

The South African court also invalidated the government’s decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which means that only Burundi has effectively withdrawn.

  1. The consequences of the Withdrawal from Burundi to the Rome Statute

According to Art. 127 (2), the withdrawal “shall not relieve the State of its obligations under the … Statute while it was a Party, including financial obligations incurred, and shall not affect cooperation established with the Court in criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect; the withdrawal shall not affect the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect “.

From this provision we can see many consequences, in particular the obligations incurred by him when he was a party to it, including the financial obligations incurred (1), the obligation to cooperate with the Court in investigations and criminal proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect (2) and the obligation not to affect in any way the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect (3)

For the moment allow us to analyze the last two obligations as these are both apparently relevant to the case in this case

The obligation of cooperation with the Court in criminal investigations and proceedings in respect of which the State had a duty to cooperate and which began before the date on which the withdrawal took effect

It can be emphasized here that Art. 127 (2) of the Statute thus provides that the withdrawal does not affect the State’s co-operation obligations arising from criminal investigations and proceedings initiated before the one-year period has expired.

It is clear that the preliminary examination already begun on Burundi is part of the investigation to which Burundi has an obligation to cooperate with the court from beginning to end.

From this obligation to cooperate one can deduce the possibility of continuing the investigation in spite of the delay of one after the notification

Extension of the preliminary examination

This would seem to be the only way that the ICC would undoubtedly continue to exercise its jurisdiction once the withdrawal is executed.  This means that if the preliminary investigation was initiated before the expiry of one year after notification of the withdrawal, Burundi should cooperate from the preliminary phase until the closure of the case, to the judgment of either the conviction or acquittal of the alleged perpetrators of crimes under international law.

The obligation not to affect in any way the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court had already begun to consider before the date on which it took effect

The second paragraph of Art. 127 provides that “the withdrawal shall not affect the continuation of the examination of cases which the Court has already begun to consider” before the withdrawal is effective. The doctrine seems to agree on one point: what the editors of the Statute wished to express with this sentence remains vague.  The preparatory work does not seem to help in this sense.

First, although doubts were expressed,  it might fairly easily be considered that when Art. 127 (2) refers to the “Court”, the Office of the Prosecutor would be understood, in particular because of the use of the term “Court” throughout the Rome Statute. It could also be said that a preliminary examination is indeed an examination of a “matter”. Although the English version of the provision uses the term “matters” to create some confusion, the term “case” is used in many provisions of the Statute to indicate either a specific case.

Thus, in principle, there would be no objection to the possibility that this sentence might legitimize the continuation of the preliminary examination of the situation in Burundi which had begun before the withdrawal of the Statute became effective. Such a result would flow from the “ordinary meaning to be attributed to the terms of the treaty” and would be most consistent with its object and purpose.

However, this could be nothing but a simple academic exercise. Indeed, as Whiting correctly noted, as soon as the one-year period expires without an “investigation or criminal proceeding” within the meaning of the second paragraph, Burundi would no longer have the “duty to cooperation “under Chapter IX

Would the result change if an application for authorization to initiate an investigation by the Prosecutor acting proprio motu, submitted before the withdrawal took effect, namely on 27 October 2017, would be pending before the Pre-Trial Chamber?

An unambiguous answer can not be given. It can certainly be maintained that under the last sentence of Art. 127 (2), the withdrawal may not affect the further consideration by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the application for leave to commence an investigation. But if a positive decision of the Chamber does not intervene before the withdrawal of Burundi is effective, the fate of the investigation remains uncertain. According to Kolb, “a State which has freed itself from its treaty obligations can no longer be obliged to cooperate in an investigation or proceedings initiated after the date on which its withdrawal took effect”

  1. General international law: a means of supporting the court to open the investigation despite the end of one year after notification of the withdrawal of Burundi to the Rome Statute

In support of the second paragraph of Art. 127, one might be tempted to resort to general international law,  including relevant customary law, as codified by the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (hereinafter CVDT)

Art. 70 of the CVDT provides that “Unless the treaty otherwise provides or the parties otherwise agree, the fact that a treaty has terminated under its provisions or in accordance with this Convention: (b) does not affect any right, obligation or legal position of the parties created by the execution of the treaty before it has ended ”

According to Clark, under this general rule, the ICC would in no way lose jurisdiction over crimes committed before the withdrawal was effective regardless of whether an investigation had been opened.This argument would be based on the fact that the mere commission of a crime falling within the jurisdiction of the ICC creates “a legal situation of the parties” to which withdrawal can not be infringed.In this way, Clark seems to suggest that the withdrawal ” would have no impact on the ICC’s competence with respect to crimes ex Art. 5 of the Statute allegedly committed on Burundian territory or by Burundians before the one-year time limit expired on 27 October.

Sanctions that may be opened up against other states parties, especially the African Union in the event of non-cooperation Article 86 of the Rome Statute states that “In accordance with the provisions of the present Statute, States Parties shall cooperate fully with the Court in its investigations and prosecutions of crimes within its jurisdiction. “The article states that states parties to the Rome Statute are under an obligation to cooperate fully with the court in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of crimes under its jurisdiction. As a result, countries that would act against this provision would be subject to sanctions, as was the case in countries such as Chad and Malawi, which were sanctioned by the Court for breaching their legal obligation to arrest and surrender El BECHIR to the Court

  1. Towards the collapse of the international justice system

The case of Burundi could set a potentially very dangerous precedent for the international justice system based on the Rome Statute. Beyond the question of the mass withdrawal of African States from the Statute, which is a very questionable question outside the scope of this note, the Burundian case might suggest to other States that face (or will face) a preliminary consideration that it would be sufficient to withdraw immediately from the Rome Statute so that the initiation of an investigation could be effectively avoided. Indeed, as stated above, the Prosecutor may initiate an investigation before the withdrawal takes effect

It should be recalled that, in order for the Prosecutor to initiate an investigation on his or her own initiative, once it has concluded that there is a reasonable basis for proceeding, it is required to “submit to the Pre-Trial Chamber an application for leave to do so  “. As stated above, this request will probably not be sufficient for the Court to retain its jurisdiction: a positive decision authorizing the initiation of the investigation would seem necessary.

But the Prosecutor would not need such permission from the Pre-Trial Chamber if other actors of the international community, such as other States parties to the Rome Statute or the UN Security Council, responsibility for the fight against impunity in recalcitrant countries.

Although until then the States parties to the Statute have only referred cases directly affecting them, under Art. 14 of the Statute, a State Party may properly refer to the Prosecutor a situation such as that prevailing in Burundi. Once determined that there would be a reasonable basis for initiating an investigation, the Prosecutor could proceed without the need for prior judicial review by the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Alternatively, responsibility could be assumed by the United Nations Security Council. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council may also refer a situation to the ICC and no authorization would be required for the initiation of an investigation. Today, this approach has been initiated only for the situation in Darfur (Sudan) in 2005 and for the situation in Libya in 2011.

 

 

Source: Burundi Coalition on the ICC

 

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Somalia truck bomb death toll rises to 276

 

Desperate Somalis searched for news of missing loved-ones on Monday, after a massive truck bomb in Mogadishu killed at least 276 people and left 300 injured in the deadliest ever attack to hit the conflict-torn nation.

Residents of the Somali capital, while wearily accustomed to regular bombs and attacks by Islamist militants, have been left stunned by the monster explosion Saturday which gutted surrounding buildings and left victims burned beyond recognition.

A statement from the information ministry on Monday said “276 people were killed in the blast… and 300 wounded were admitted at the different hospitals in Mogadishu.”

The government said it had set up an emergency committee to help relatives find the missing, with a crisis centre in the capital that residents can turn to.

Police official Ibrahim Mohamed told AFP that many of the victims were “burned beyond recognition” in what he described as “the deadliest attack ever.”

Turkey sent a military plane full of medical supplies to Mogadishu on Monday, also evacuating some of the injured for treatment.

The blast occurred at a junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses in the city’s northwest. Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilogrammes (1,100 pounds) of explosives.

Abdulahi Nuradin was one of many helping friends and family hunting for news of the missing.

“It has been more than 24 hours now and we don’t have any traces or information about the sister of my friend. We can assume she is dead, with her flesh somewhere amongst the horribly burned dead bodies,” he told AFP.

“We went to several hospitals to seek any information but no to avail, the family is now 99 percent convinced she is dead, I saw so many severed pieces of human flesh at the hospitals, you cannot even look at them,” he added.

– ‘Devastation beyond imagination’ –

Local government official Muhidin Ali said more than 100 bodies who were impossible to identify had already been buried.

“The gruesome dead bodies were displayed at the hospitals for relatives but a few were recognised and most of them not at all, the devastation is something beyond the imagination of humankind,” he said.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Shabaab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.

The previous deadliest assault took place in October 2011, when a truck bomb targeting a government office left 82 dead and 150 injured.

Saturday’s blast, the worst in Somalia’s history, came six years after Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union and Somali troops.

While they were also pushed out of major towns across southern Somalia the militants still control rural areas and launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighbouring Kenya.

According to the Nairobi-based Sahan thinktank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks in 2016 in Somalia.

News

Victims to lose out as Burundi set to leave…

On 27 October 2017, Burundi will become the first country to withdraw from the Rome Statute (RS) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The state’s imminent withdrawal from the ICC raises questions for the ICC’s existing preliminary examination (PE) of the situation in the country since April 2016.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) PE in Burundi—considered to be at the subject-matter determination phase (Phase 2) at the time of the OTP’s last PE report (14 November 2016)—has been looking into alleged RS crimes including killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, torture, and sexual violence committed in the country since April 2015.

“In one week, the decision to withdraw Burundi from the Rome Statute will come into effect. This comes at a time when the machine continues to kill with impunity in Burundi. Today, Burundian justice, as it is so-called, has lost contact with life. It has become a mere tool of repression of any dissenting voice the powerful and the party in power CNDD FDD,” said the Burundi Coalition for the ICC.

 

SOURCE; Coalition for the International Criminal Court

Press Releases

NCICC CONDEMNS THE SECRET TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS…

 

Press release:  17th  October 2017

 

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) expresses deep concern at the ongoing mass trial of the Boko Haram suspects.

Over 1600 Boko Haram suspects are being detained in Niger state and SECRET trial is going on.

We commend the Attorney General of the Federation for taking the initiative to ensure that justice is served to the many victims of gross human rights abuses and severe crimes alleged to have been committed by the Boko Haram sect.

However, it is pertinent that due process is followed in the course of administering justice. Section 36 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended provides for fair trial for all Nigerian citizens.  Public hearing is a yardstick for free and fair trial which forms a fundamental principle of Natural justice so it is quite disturbing that the trial of the Boko Haram suspect is being done privately.

NCICC maintains that accelerated/secret hearing in criminal matters of this nature is not advisable as it may present a glitch in the administration of justice. Suspects must be afforded the opportunity to be represented by a legal practitioner of their choice and lawyers must be given reasonable time to prepare their defense. It is important that all the antecedents of criminal trials be upheld as they are mere suspects and have to be proven guilty or otherwise.

NCICC call on Judges, prosecutors and defence lawyers to get involved in the prosecution of the suspects.  Lawyers should be given adequate time and facilities to prepare for and ensure fair trial of the suspects.

NCICC Calls on the Attorney General of the  Federation to ensure open trials and adequate protection of witnesses, we urge the judiciary to designate more judges and assign these cases to them. There is no way four judges can do justice to 1600 cases. It will take them a decade to do so.

Finally we appeal to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to provide more pro bono defence counsel because the Legal Aid Council is so thinly staffed and poorly funded to be able to give quality legal defence to 1600 defendants.

Chino Obiagwu

Chair, Steering Committee

 

 

News

Saraki calls for international conference on North East, Boko…

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for an international conference on North East and Boko Haram threat in Nigeria.

He made the call during General Debate at the 137 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Russia.

 

According to him, convening an international conference like the one convened in London on Somalia and Syria will go a long way in finding a lasting solution to the problem in the region.

He added that “Nigeria’s North East region has suffered terribly as a result of the onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents.

“Two million Nigerians are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries like the Lake Chad region, where 4.4 million people are threatened by food insecurity.

“Of the fund needed to address the problem, less than half has been raised. The UN has described the situation in the Lake Chad region as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

“The 8th National Assembly is at the forefront of improved coordination efforts to overcome institutional and logistic impediments in the way of getting aid for those in need.

“We have reached an advanced stage in plans for a development commission to tackle the crisis in the North East; incidentally, the region has the highest poverty rate in the country.

“We have also made economic growth and greater investment the core of our legislative agenda.

“The sooner we deliver economic reforms and greater prosperity to all Nigerians, the sooner we can achieve more inclusive society and minimise societal divisions and grievances.”

Saraki further pointed out the need for government to attend to challenges in other parts of the country for sustainable peace.

According to him, Plateau in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria has been faced with ethnic and religious conflicts, with more than 7,000 people killed in the last decade.

He said that the challenge of climate change led to shrinking of the Lake Chad, which could no longer sustain thousands of displaced persons camped along its receding banks, especially in the North of Nigeria.

He emphasized among other things, the need to tackle youth unemployment, poverty, religious intolerance and marginalisation, which were major factors of restiveness in the country.

He added that “the National Assembly believes that inter-faith dialogue, especially that driven by women and the media, can support the role of passing the message of religious tolerance among the younger generation.

“This is because of their influential roles in the social-cultural fabric of the society.

“We also cannot overemphasise the special role education has to play in overcoming prejudices and uprooting stereotypes, promoting inter-denominational services, as well as cultivating and promoting shared values.

“Parliamentarians can champion the IPU’s core values of equality, inclusiveness, respect, integrity and solidarity as necessary tools for bringing about peace through cultural pluralism.

“I urge us to adopt the Tirana Summit Declaration of 2004 for a world in which religious faiths will not only co-exist peacefully but work actively to promote a sense of social cohesion and collective purpose.”

On the theme of the 137th IPU — “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace Through Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue” — Saraki said it was timely in view of the need to seek an alternative to war in resolving conflicts across the globe.

He said the ethnic divide and religious antagonism across the world had opened up new theatres of conflicts leading to a heightened humanitarian crisis; “and something urgent must be done.’’

He added that “according to the UN, 20 million people are at risk of famine in countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“140 million people in 37 countries are in need of aid; and earlier this year in the Dhaka Declaration, the 136th IPU Assembly called attention to food insecurity in Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

“Indeed, as the IPU President rightly observed, we are entering the age of famine.”

Saraki expressed concern over increased cases of hate speeches directed at those who were considered to be different in culture, tradition and religion

 

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki

The President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has called for an international conference on North East and Boko Haram threat in Nigeria.

He made the call during General Debate at the 137 Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly on Sunday at St. Petersburg, Russia.

Saraki, who lamented the havoc caused by insecurity in the region, said while Nigerian government was doing its best to tackle the problem, international interventions were necessary.

According to him, convening an international conference like the one convened in London on Somalia and Syria will go a long way in finding a lasting solution to the problem in the region.

He added that “Nigeria’s North East region has suffered terribly as a result of the onslaught of Boko Haram insurgents.

“Two million Nigerians are internally displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries like the Lake Chad region, where 4.4 million people are threatened by food insecurity.

“Of the fund needed to address the problem, less than half has been raised. The UN has described the situation in the Lake Chad region as the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world.

“The 8th National Assembly is at the forefront of improved coordination efforts to overcome institutional and logistic impediments in the way of getting aid for those in need.

“We have reached an advanced stage in plans for a development commission to tackle the crisis in the North East; incidentally, the region has the highest poverty rate in the country.

“We have also made economic growth and greater investment the core of our legislative agenda.

“The sooner we deliver economic reforms and greater prosperity to all Nigerians, the sooner we can achieve more inclusive society and minimise societal divisions and grievances.”

Saraki further pointed out the need for government to attend to challenges in other parts of the country for sustainable peace.

According to him, Plateau in the Middle Belt region of Nigeria has been faced with ethnic and religious conflicts, with more than 7,000 people killed in the last decade.

He said that the challenge of climate change led to shrinking of the Lake Chad, which could no longer sustain thousands of displaced persons camped along its receding banks, especially in the North of Nigeria.

He emphasised among other things, the need to tackle youth unemployment, poverty, religious intolerance and marginalisation, which were major factors of restiveness in the country.

He added that “the National Assembly believes that inter-faith dialogue, especially that driven by women and the media, can support the role of passing the message of religious tolerance among the younger generation.

“This is because of their influential roles in the social-cultural fabric of the society.

“We also cannot overemphasise the special role education has to play in overcoming prejudices and uprooting stereotypes, promoting inter-denominational services, as well as cultivating and promoting shared values.

“Parliamentarians can champion the IPU’s core values of equality, inclusiveness, respect, integrity and solidarity as necessary tools for bringing about peace through cultural pluralism.

“I urge us to adopt the Tirana Summit Declaration of 2004 for a world in which religious faiths will not only co-exist peacefully but work actively to promote a sense of social cohesion and collective purpose.”

On the theme of the 137th IPU — “Promoting Cultural Pluralism and Peace Through Interfaith and Inter-Ethnic Dialogue” — Saraki said it was timely in view of the need to seek an alternative to war in resolving conflicts across the globe.

He said the ethnic divide and religious antagonism across the world had opened up new theatres of conflicts leading to a heightened humanitarian crisis; “and something urgent must be done.’’

He added that “according to the UN, 20 million people are at risk of famine in countries like Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

“140 million people in 37 countries are in need of aid; and earlier this year in the Dhaka Declaration, the 136th IPU Assembly called attention to food insecurity in Yemen, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

“Indeed, as the IPU President rightly observed, we are entering the age of famine.”

Saraki expressed concern over increased cases of hate speeches directed at those who were considered to be different in culture, tradition and religion.

He said there were rising inter-ethnic clashes with many recorded fatalities and communities displaced.

He added that the diverse cultural, traditional and religious practice across Africa that ought to be its source of strength had turned out to be a threat to its existence.

According to him, the situation has led to bloodletting, like the case of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

He added that Nigeria had also experienced a civil war and lately experiencing the increased spate of hate speeches and ethnic conflicts, which was threatening the unity of the country.

“2017 has been a year of unremitting woes. There is no part of the world that is untouched by trouble and strife, conflicts created by apparent failure in all spheres to achieve peaceful co-existence.

“In the U.S., white supremacists engage in pitched battles with anti-fascist and `Black Lives Matter’ protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“The country has been boiling since then as the fault lines widen between the various segments of American society, giving vent to long-simmering tensions.

“In Spain, the reverberations of the Catalan independence referendum are being felt. Or is it the sporadic bursts of xenophobic violence in South Africa?.

“We will also not forget the election-related unrest in Kenya, fractured along ethnic lines between the Luos and the Kikuyus.

“We also see again and again the consequences of gaps in mutual understanding within communities.

“In Myanmar, tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim Rohingya sent a wave of human misery flowing to the border of Bangladesh,’’ he said.

Saraki, however, expressed optimism that the 137th IPU would offer lasting solution to the growing world conflicts.

Press Releases

NIGERIAN COALITION ON THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT CELEBERATES INTERNATIONAL…

 

 

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

 

 

News

JUDGE WITHDRAWS FROM TRIAL OF BOKO HARAM SUSPECTS

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 https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/244934-update-judge-withdrew-self-boko-haram-trial.html