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.
“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/
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
Arrests, Enforced Disappearances, Threats Against Opponents;
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
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.
Cameroon’s military has carried out a mass forced return of 100,000 Nigerian asylum seekers in an effort to stem the spread of Boko Haram, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Wednesday.
The deportations defy the UN refugee agency’s plea not to return anyone to northeast Nigeria “until the security and human rights situation has improved considerably,” and leaves deportees facing spiralling violence, displacement and destitution.
The 55-page report, “‘They Forced Us Onto Trucks Like Animals’: Cameroon’s Mass Forced Return and Abuse of Nigerian Refugees,” documents that since early 2015, Cameroonian soldiers have tortured, assaulted, and sexually exploited Nigerian asylum seekers in remote border areas, denied them access to the UN refugee agency, and summarily deported, often violently, tens of thousands to Nigeria. It also documents violence, poor conditions, and unlawful movement restrictions in Cameroon’s only official camp for Nigerian refugees, as well as conditions recent returnees face in Nigeria.
“The Cameroonian military’s torture and abuse of Nigerian refugees and asylum seekers seems to be driven by an arbitrary decision to punish them for Boko Haram attacks in Cameroon and to discourage Nigerians from seeking asylum,” said Gerry Simpson, associate refugee director at Human Rights Watch. “Cameroon should heed the UN’s call on all countries to protect refugees fleeing the carnage in northeast Nigeria, not return them there.”
In late June and July 2017, Human Rights Watch interviewed 61 asylum seekers and refugees in Nigeria about the abuses they faced in Cameroon. They said soldiers had accused them of belonging to Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant Islamist group, or of being “Boko Haram wives” while torturing or assaulting them and dozens of others on arrival, during their stay in remote border areas, and during mass deportations. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says it has heard similar accounts from Nigerians living in Cameroon’s border areas.
Some said their children, weakened after living for months or years without adequate food and medical care in border areas, died during or just after the deportations, and others said children were separated from their parents.
An asylum seeker who was deported from Mora in March 2017 described how without warning, Cameroonian soldiers rounded up 40 asylum seekers “and severely beat us and forced us onto a bus. They beat some of the men so badly, they were heavily bleeding. When we got to the Nigerian border they shouted ‘Go and die in Nigeria.’”
Refugees who reached Cameroon’s only designated camp for Nigerian refugees, in Minawao, have also faced violence from Cameroonian soldiers. While they have some protection as refugees, the approximately 70,000 people there have had limited access to food and water and abusive restrictions on their movement. In April and May, 13,000 returned from Minawao to a displacement camp in Banki, just across the border in Nigeria. Some were killed in early September when Boko Haram attacked the camp.
Although UNHCR does not have reliable access to most of Cameroon’s border areas with Nigeria, in early June it said its monitoring partners found Cameroon had forcibly returned almost 100,000 Nigerians to their country since January 2015. In late June, the Nigerian authorities responded to Cameroonian pressure by sending military vehicles over the border to help Cameroon deport almost 1,000 asylum seekers. That made Nigeria complicit in the unlawful forced return of its own citizens.
Tens of thousands of deportees from Cameroon end up in insecure militarized displacement camps or villages in Borno State, where conditions are dire, and women and girls face sexual exploitation. These sites are surrounded by the ongoing conflict between Nigeria’s armed forces and Boko Haram, which as of mid-September had displaced almost 2 million other Nigerian civilians.
Cameroon’s forced returns are a breach of the principle of nonrefoulement, which prohibits the forcible return of refugees and asylum seekers to persecution and, under regional standards in Africa, to situations of generalized violence, such as in northeast Nigeria.
Since 2014, Cameroonian armed forces have carried out operations against Boko Haram in the country’s Far North Region. Cameroon has the right to regulate the presence of non-nationals on its territory, including those proven to be threat to its national security. The authorities also have an obligation to carefully investigate attacks in Cameroon by suspected Boko Haram members. However, it may not block refugees from seeking asylum and summarily deport them.
After staying publicly silent on the situation for two years, in late March, UNHCR publicly criticised the authorities for their mass forced refugee returns. The criticism was triggered by deportations after Cameroon had signed an agreement that month with Nigeria and UNHCR confirming that it would ensure that all refugee return was voluntary.
As of mid-September, the Cameroonian authorities had allowed UNHCR only to pre-register asylum seekers in some border communities, leaving those pre-registered and tens of thousands of other asylum seekers without access to meaningful protection and putting them at risk of deportation.
The Cameroonian authorities deny any forced return or abuse of Nigerian asylum seekers and have not replied to a Human Rights Watch request for a response to the report’s findings. Cameroon has had a reputation as a generous country toward refugees since the early 1970s and it has hosted tens and then hundreds of thousands of refugees since then.
“Faced with overwhelming evidence of mass refugee abuse and UN condemnation, Cameroon is trying to bury its head in the sand,” Simpson said. “But returning tens of thousands of Nigerians to harm and destitution will only further shred its well-deserved reputation as a generous refugee-hosting country.” culled from https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/244317-cameroon-torture-abuse-forcefully-return-thousands-nigerian-refugees-hrw.html
The 2017 recipient of the Stockholm Human Rights Award was announced two weeks ago as the International Criminal Court (‘ICC’ or the ‘Court’). Given in recognition of work advancing international justice and strengthening respect for human rights, the Award is bestowed annually by the Swedish Bar Association, the International Bar Association and the International Legal Assistance Consortium.
In Stockholm, Sweden, on 20 November 2017, in the presence of Their Majesties King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia and an audience of eminent individuals in international law, the Principals of the ICC – the President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi; the Prosecutor, Dr Fatou Bensouda, and the Registrar, Mr Herman von Hebel – will receive the Award jointly on behalf of the Court. Read more about the award on the International Bar Association Website here.
As we celebrate the international day of peace, we appeal to the Nigerian government to increase the use of dialogue in internal agitations and conflict resolution and by so doing, develop a sense of joint ownership of the process and become stakeholders in identifying new approaches to address common challenges
Nigeria has experienced a high rate of conflict and civil agitations in recent times. From the insurgency in the northeast where several Nigerian citizens have been killed and others left internally displaced to poor governance, human rights abuses and human rights violations, uneven development, environmental degradation to military invasion of states in the northeast to quell the “insurrection.” The number of violent conflicts increases daily as the government sometimes adopts a posture that shows an unwillingness to engage in dialogue to transform societies and find real solutions to the country’s most complex challenges.
As the world comes together to show its commitment to peace, the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court urges the Nigerian Government to increase the use of dialogue in internal agitations and conflict resolution in Nigeria.
Goal 16 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, and the provision of access to justice for all. It is high time that our leaders explore the use of dialogue as a means of resolving internal agitations in the country in other to achieve peace.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, practicing a democratic system of government should desist from unusual use of force in addressing internal issues. We as a nation are binded by international obligations and as such should explore reasonable measures to resolve conflicts rather than resort to force at the slightest opportunity. The UN secretary general António Guterres today while addressing the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations Headquarters, announced the creation of a high-level advisory board on mediation. He stressed the need for “a surge in diplomacy today” and “a leap in conflict prevention for tomorrow,” he said that it is possible to move from war to peace and from dictatorship to democracy. Dialogue is crucial to the maintenance of peace and security and could promote reconciliation in the aftermath of conflict and could also introduce moderate voices into polarized debates,” he added; “At a time when prejudice and hatred are all too common, when extremists seek new recruits through incitement and identity-based appeal, when politicians use divisiveness as a strategy to win elections — dialogue can be an antidote.”
It is our believe that if the leaders of this great country employ adequate use of dialogue then it will be unnecessary to deploy the military to the east to cause unrest and acts of genocide. Neither will there be a need for the operation python/crocodile dances amongst others.
International Criminal Justice Counsel
The NCICC frowns at the illegality and unconstitutionality of the ‘python dance’ instituted by the Nigerian Military to curb an insurection that does not exist. it is an aberration and a flagrant disregard to the rights of civilians in the country.
Although the President is empowered by virtue of section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law order” he cannot exercise the power until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance which cannot be contained by the police. the police by virtue of section 215(3) was created and empowered to maintain peace and public safety, not the army.
Since there was no insurrection in Abia State which the Nigeria Police Force could not contain, the deployment of armed troops by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces cannot be justified in law.
However, if the federal government has evidence of other criminal offences recently committed by Mr. Kanu the Police should have been directed to arrest him and charge him to court without any delay.
“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.
In Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt 956) 96 the Court of Appeal held that “It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999. Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity to ensure the survival and sustenance of democracy”.
Regrettably, no conscious efforts have been made by the civilian government to demilitarise the country since power was transferred from former military dictators to the civilian wing of the political class in May 1999. Hence, armed soldiers have been allowed to continue to be involved in the maintenance of law and order in all the states of the federation. Up till now, state governments have allowed armed soldiers to remain members of the police anti robbery squads. They have been deployed, from time to time, by the President to deal with the menace of herdsmen and kidnappers. They have just been authorized to deal ruthlessly with civilians who are involved in any form of agitation for self determination.
“There is no legal basis for authorizing the Nigerian army to take over police duties. Even under the defunct military era in Nigeria the military dictators had to declare a state of emergency to legitimize the usurpation of police powers by the armed forces. But under a democratic dispensation the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country. We may want to recall that in waging the war on terror in the north east region, a state of emergency was declared by President Jonathan to justify the deployment of members of the armed forces as part of the extraordinary measures required by him to restore law and order pursuant to section 305 of the Constitution. Thereafter, the President sought and obtained the approval of the National Assembly for the said deployment of the armed forces.
The coalition therefore urge Mr President to order the withdrawal of the troops from Abia state and allow the commissioner of police to efficiently dispense his duties.