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REPORT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BILL FOR…

18 July, 2018.

In commemorating the Rome Statute, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) partnered with the The House of Representative Committee on Treaties, Protocol and Agreements and  held a public hearing on the Bill for “An Act to provide for the Enforcement and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity, War Crimes, Genocide And For Other Related Offences”.

The meeting took place on the 18 July, 2018 at the National Assembly Complex and had in attendance the Honourable Chairman and deputy Honourable Chairman of the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements, Honourable Members of the House of Representative, members of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court as well as members of the general public.

The aim of the meeting was to get recommendations and contributions from stakeholders to assist the House Committee in producing a report for the third reading and adoption of the Bill by the National Assembly.

In his opening remark the Chairman of the committee stated that the Bill is in line with sections of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and that there was a need to domesticate the International Conventions and Treaties contained in the Rome Statute through the legislation of the National Assembly in order to give effect to the laws contained in the Statute. He  further explained that certain provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which Nigeria became signatory to in 2001 have not been implemented due to the lack of its domestication as required by the constitution. He concluded his opening remarks by stating that the public hearing will create a platform for stakeholders to make strong recommendations and contribution that will help in pushing the bill to the Upper House of Legislature and ensure the smooth passing of the Bill into law.

Professor of law, Professor Agbo Madaiki in delivering his presentation stated that Public hearing on the Bill to domesticate the Rome Statute could not be coming at a more auspicious time as Nigeria appears to be at the Rubicon and finds it near impossible to go forward or go backward as the stark reality of the senseless killings of thousands of innocent Nigerians is carried out with impunity.

Prof. Madaiki also noted that;

The punishment Clauses recommends the same penalty for similar offences under the Penal Code and Criminal Code, which is the death penalty. He stated that the death penalty has no utilitarian advantage over terms of imprisonment or a life sentence, he recommended Life Imprisonment instead especially being that the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment abolished the death penalty. He also said that the prescribed penalty for offences contained in clauses 10, 11, 12 and 14 which is a term of imprisonment of two year is too liberal and mild.

He further went on to say that Clause 17 [3] of the Statute which 2
state that it is not a defence for a person charged with an offence to plead that the act constituting the offence was committed in obedience to the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence clearly violates Section 36[8] of the Constitution which states that no person shall be held guilty of a criminal offence on any account of an act or omission that did not at the time it took place, constitute such an offence. He concluded by stating that the Bill when passed into law will achieve two objectives which is safeguarding higher values such as the protection of human rights and ensuring the accountability of those responsible for the commission of internal crimes in and outside Nigeria.

The Sponsor of the Bill, Honourable Nicholas Ossai represented by his Senior Special Assistant,Barr. Chris Agidy, giving a synopsis of the Bill stated that the aim of the Bill is to provide a formation for the enforcement and punishment of the international crimes and  that domestication of the Rome Statute provides a network of corporation between Nigeria and the International Criminal Court to ensure the effective prosecution of international crimes committed in Nigeria or outside Nigeria, and also provides special victims trust fund to assist victims and survivors of international crimes in Nigeria which should be overseen by the National Assembly.  He concluded by appealing to the Committee Chairman and other members of the House to ensure that the Bill is given a smooth passage.

Mr. John Ozoeri representing the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, in his presentation stated that the importance of domesticating the Bill into our municipal laws cannot be overemphasized because the National courts are the only place where a common man can go to get justice, he added that the domestication of the Bill will therefore give hope to victims and Nigerians to go to court for the enforcement of their rights and applauded the efforts of the sponsor of the bill and the Honourable House of Representative for having successfully completed the first and second reading of the Bill and hopes that the Bill will see the light of the day.

Dr. Martin Ejidike, Senior Human Rights Adviser to the United Nations Resident Coordinator, during his presentation  stated that the ICC is created by the international committee of states, to investigate, prosecute and try individuals for the international crimes of Genocide, Crimes against humanity, war crimes and Crime of aggression. He added that the ICC is complementary to national criminal jurisdiction to ensure that perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity are prosecuted accordingly. He noted that the ICC prosecutes international crimes only when the state concern is genuinely unable or unwilling to prosecute them. He went further to say  that when Nigeria ratified the Rome Statute in 2001 a rapid implementation was expected but this was not to be as there have so far been three failed attempts to domesticate the treaty and hopes that this public hearing will achieve the desired response. He reiterated on the importance of the domestication of the Bill which he said will give credence to the strong support Nigeria offered to counter efforts within the African Union to secure a general withdrawal from the ICC. He further stated that Nigeria owes a constitution and treaty responsibility to domesticate the Rome Statute and it is hoped that the public hearing will also aid the fulfillment of this constitutional responsibility.

 

Dr. Martin noted that the President of Nigeria in his preliminary address on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute in the Hague urged states that are yet to sign the Rome statute to do so as a matter of deliberate state policy, he then pointed out that is therefore only expected that Nigeria will do its part by domesticating the treaty and  concluded by saying that Nigeria should also be persuaded on the need for domestication by the fact that the current president of the ICC is a worthy son of Nigeria and added that it will also be a worthy 20th anniversary present to the ICC during the presidency of a son of Nigeria. He stated further that as Nigeria prepare for the elections in 2019 it is prudent that Nigeria concludes the domestication of the statute in other to put trouble maker as to what awaits. He urged the House of Representative and the Nigerian government to give the Bill the utmost attention it needs.

Mr. Daniel from Access to Justice stated that under the Bill, the Attorney General of the Federation is saddled with the responsibility of acting on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in respect of all obligations imposed on state parties by the Rome statute and the procurement of the consent of the Attorney General is a pre-condition to the commencement of action against persons who commit international crimes of the nature outlined in the Rome Statute. He however stated that, if that provision is retained, there will be very little chance that prosecutions for violation of the ICC Statute will likely take place and most likely actions that are taken to secure some political advantage for a government in power will never be questioned. He stated further that the proposed legislation undermines itself by making the consent of the Attorney General a prerequisite for the institution of action against persons suspected of committing international crimes. He concluded by saying that even though he is unable to proffer the best of solutions to the problems he has highlighted, suggestion can be made that the Bill could contain provisions to the effect that where the Attorney General fails to give consent to a proposed prosecution, other institutions could review his decision or commence action on his behalf. He also suggested that in the event of the Attorney General refusing to prosecute, the rationale behind his refusal should be disclosed and made the subject of review by a impartial body possibly a judicial one.

Mr. Benson Olugbo of Cleen Foundation, in his presentation stated that under article 17 of the Rome Statute which provides for the principle of complimentarity, it states that the jurisdiction of the international criminal court will only be activated if the national courts are unable to do so. He also pointed out that the punishment in section 11-14 which talks about corruption should be increased from two years otherwise offenders will be encouraged to continue. He further stated that the section in the Bill which gives the Attorney General the power to give consent before prosecution should be expunged and instead the DPP be given that responsibility being that the attorney general is a political appointment and the DPP is a career civil servant. He further talked about Article 93 which provides for a Victims Trust Fund and noted that we already have a Victims Trust Fund in Nigeria, He also aligned with previous speakers that the death sentence in Section4(2)(b) be looked into as Nigeria is gradually moving away from death sentences. He concluded with saying Section 3 of the Bill which makes mention of trial of offenders in absentia should also be looked into as the Nigeria Judicial system does not recognise trial in absentia.

 

Mr. Olaniyi Omodara from the National Human Rights Commission commended the National Assembly and the Committee for this laudable task and noted that the passage of the Bill into law will further enhance the enjoyment of human rights in Nigeria. He observed that there were some typographical errors in the Bill which if not properly corrected may give a different meaning to the intentions of the legislators, he stated that the punishment of 30years sentencing as contained in the Bill for where death occurs by accident is outrageous and asked that the term of 30years be reviewed but in situations where the crimes are committed intentionally then the death penalty contained Penal Code and the Criminal Code may apply. He commented on the sections provided for punishment and on whether the terms of punishment is commensurate to the offences mentioned, he stated that the purpose of imprisonment is not to punish but to reform and to bring people back to the society as better citizens

Professor Joy Ezielo in her speech stated that the Bill ensures that human rights and humanitarian law is not contradictory to criminal justice system .She noted that there are some definition lapses in the Bill i.e there is no specific definition of what constitute crimes against humanity, there is also no definition of trafficking of persons or rape, she pointed out that the meaning of torture as contained in the Bill has to come within the UN Convention against Torture.

 

On the issue of Accountability- She stated that sometimes the problem in Nigeria isn’t just lack of laws but lack administration of criminal justice, she pointed out that in as much as punishment has to be proportionate and is also meant to serve as a deterrent she is of the opinion that there shouldn’t be a minimum sentencing for punishment.

On the issue of Victims of survivors-she stated that there should be a mechanism put in place for protection of victims which will also help the rehabilitation and redress of these victims.

Mrs. Chinyere Efobi ,Legal Adviser to the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs talked about Part IV Section 22(2) which confers jurisdiction on the State High court, she stated that it will be best if the Federal High Court can be conferred with absolute jurisdiction to try offence under that section as the Federal High Court exercises jurisdiction over every state in Nigeria, also being that only the DPP prosecutes after the  Attorney General gives his consent under the Bill it is only advisable that the Federal High Court exercises absolute jurisdiction as the DPP prosecutes mostly in the Federal High Court.

Mr. Voke Ighorodjie from Reeds Center stated that we have a collective responsibility to see to the smooth passage of the Bill, in his brief statement he stated that impunity has become the norm in the society, the Bill is to therefore foster accountability and deterrence. He reiterated the need to ensure the Bill is passed into law before the election fever begins and also with a son of Nigeria being the president of the ICC.

Mr. Segun Jegede spoke on the issue regarding the jurisdiction of the High Court and the Federal High Court, and stated that a special court should be created to try international crimes to avoid situations of conflicting decisions being reached by the different court. He further stated that a witness protection system should be put in place.

 

Deputy Minority Speaker, Chukwuka Onyema Wilfred, representing the Speaker of the House of Representative in his statement stated that the Bill will give effect to the provisions of right to life in section 33 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He stated that the contributions from stakeholders present will go a long way in helping the Bill scale through and urged everyone to put all hands on deck.

The Chairman of the Committee in his speech stated that the criminal offences of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are requisite part of domestic legislation where a state wishes to prosecute persons for atrocities committed in the course of conflict. He added that these offences have been long recognised as crimes under international law but have not been incorporated into National Legislation, he went further to say that the referral of the bill to the committee for further legislative action is a clear indication of the firm resolve of the house to faithfully implement its legislative Agenda and social contract with their constituents. He concluded by commending the House of Representatives under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara for his proactive efforts and commitment in effecting legislations that will directly impact on the security life of all citizens as guaranteed in the constitution. He assured everyone that the committee is open to any idea from stakeholders and will appreciate and critically examine every input and recommended ideas that will be of benefit to the Nigerian people.

 

Mr.Joel Agah,a member of the NCICC in his brief speech stated that when the community captures the perpetrators of these crimes and hand them over to security agents nothing is heard of it anymore, he insisted that this is so because the security agency protects the offenders and stated that there should be no protection for offenders.

The Chairman of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Mr. Chinonye Obiagwu in giving the final speech for the day stated the NCICC is ready to assist the committee in preparing its reports, he stated that there is a gender and technical unit within the NASS which can assist the committee in putting down everything said in this meeting and also resource persons from the NCICC that can be of great assistance, speaking on the provisions of the Bill he stated that there is a need to harmonize the Bill with other existing laws to avoid conflicts and there should be a cross reference between laws.  He also pointed out that the definition of torture in the Bill be revised to reflect the definition of torture as contained in the Torture Act.

 

 

On the issue of sentencing he stated that rather than putting minimum sentencing for punishments maximum sentencing should be used.

Speaking on Section 93 of the Bill which speaks of establishment of Victims Trust Fund, Mr. Obiagwu opined that the Victims Trust Fund should be a creation of statute so that report on it can be made directly to the National Assembly, he also stated that the government should take advantage of section 93 of the Bill and include social funds which most times go unaccounted into the Victims Trust Funds.

Lastly on the issue of Jurisdiction, he stated that the State High Courts and the Federal High Court be allowed to have jurisdiction to try the offences as the Act which provides for the definition of crime included both the State High Courts and the Federal High Courts. He stated also that offences committed in the states can be tried in the States High Courts and offences to be prosecuted by the Federal High Court can as well be tried by the Federal High Court.

In conclusion he thanked the Committee once again and reiterated his support for the Bill he added if any assistance from the United Nations is needed, Dr. Martin Ejidike from the United Nations will be available to render such support.

 

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Australian Parliament Unanimously Favors Armenian Genocide Recognition

Australia’s House of Representatives has debated, for the first time, a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide through the prism of Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort. The Parliament has called for a vote to change the government’s foreign policy, according to the Armenian National Committee of Australia (ANC-AU).

The debated motion recognizes, among other things, “the extraordinary humanitarian efforts of the then newly formed Commonwealth of Australia for the orphans and other survivors of the Armenian Genocide, as well as the other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire including Greeks and Assyrians.”

It was moved on Monday, June 25, in the Australian Parliament’s Federation Chamber by Trent Zimmerman (Liberal MP for North Sydney) and seconded by Joel Fitzgibbon (Labor MP for Hunter) and John Alexander (Liberal MP for Bennelong). Chris Bowen (Labor MP for MacMahon), Stuart Robert (Liberal MP for Fadden) and Anne Aly (Labor MP for Cowan) also spoke favorably on Australia’s helping hand for the victims of Ottoman Turkey’s crime against humanity.

This comprehensive, bipartisan support indicates that the House of Representatives has taken a major step towards Australia recognizing that its first major international humanitarian relief effort was to aid survivors of the Genocide that decimated the Christian Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians of the Ottoman Empire.

Significantly, the motion accurately reflects and accepts as a historical fact the Armenian Genocide as a “genocide,” moving Australia closer to international norms of recognizing the systematic murder of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Empire starting in 1915.

“This motion recognizes that Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort was to help the survivors, especially the orphan survivors of the Armenian Genocide, and today’s bipartisan debate paves the way for an eventual vote to formalize this recognition by the nation’s Parliament,” ANC-AU Executive Director Haig Kayserian said.

Kayserian said that Armenian-Australians faced “some obstacles and a considerable road ahead” to achieve full recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Australia, however, “that journey is that little bit shorter after this debate broke many taboos.”

“All speeches recognized Australia’s relief efforts during the Armenian Genocide, as that was the focus of this motion, however, we must seek more to honor the memory of the survivors of the genocide of Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians,” Kayserian said. “We need more of our political leaders, to follow the lead of some of the honorable members during today’s debate, and Australia to properly recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

“When debates such as today’s and when these calls for recognition evolve into a binding vote on a motion, such as the one debated today by one of the Houses of Parliament, we would have ensured an important shift in Australian foreign policy from one that appeases a foreign dictatorship to one that sides with truth and justice on the issue,” Kayserian added.
Zimmerman, who is the Co-Chair of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group/Caucus), was unequivocal in his call for the importance of Armenian Genocide recognition during his speech.

“In remembering the victims of the Armenian Genocide and those Australians who came to their aid, we send a message that the events which started in 1915 are not just some footnote in history,” Zimmerman said. “For, if we hide from the truth, if we fail to recognize the evil that was perpetrated against the Armenians, we simply provide succor to those today and in the future who think that they can deny the most important of human rights, of life itself.”
Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fitzgibbon, who is also a Co-Chair of the Armenia-Australia Inter-Parliamentary Union (Friendship Group/Caucus), echoed these calls.

“Up to 30 countries around the world, and our own New South Wales Parliament, have now declared the actions of the Ottomans an act of genocide,” Fitzgibbon said. “I do not believe the ongoing failure of Australia to do the same helps rebuild trust and relationships — we invest so much time in our international relationships, and I believe one further act could further strengthen our place in the world.”

Alexander, who is Member of the largest Armenian-Australian electorate in Bennelong and a long-time supporter of Armenian Genocide recognition, used this debate to repeat his calls.
“I have long called for this Parliament to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Alexander said. “I am happy that today, by debating this motion, we are taking a significant step towards achieving that goal by recognizing Australia’s first major international humanitarian relief effort, and what a relief effort it was.”

“I impatiently wait for the day that Australia recognizes not only our efforts to aid refugees and orphans of the Armenian Genocide, but also joins with the other 30 countries in calling for Turkey to recognize the events of 1915 as Genocide,” Alexander added.

“Today is a victory against foreign influence,” Kayserian said. “Despite pressures to gag this debate by a desperate Turkish dictatorship, five out of six speakers from the largest chamber in Australia’s Federal Parliament chose to side with a motion recognizing the Armenian Genocide for what it was, a genocide, while paying tribute to an important and proud chapter in Australia’s history which has been sought to be suppressed by foreign influence.”

Bowen, who is the Shadow Treasurer of Australia, Robert and Aly provided details of the events of the Armenian Genocide and Australia’s relief effort in their support for the motion.
“The Australian soldiers had a chance during WWI to interact with the Armenian people in particular,” Bowen said. “Many Australians who were taken prisoner were billeted in the former homes of Armenians who had been expelled from their homes. Their homes had been ransacked and pillaged and, in many senses, destroyed.”

“It is … particularly important to recognize the humanitarian efforts of Australians, and perhaps the beginning of those links of friendship and comradeship between the Australian people and Armenian people and Assyrian people,” Bowen said.
Robert discussed the events and aftermath of WWI as they related to Australians and Armenians.

“Whilst Australia formed its sense of modern identity on the battlefields starting with Gallipoli, Armenia formed its sense of great and secondary tragedy from the events that followed,” Robert said. “These things should not be hidden, they should be discussed, they should be open. Reconciliation comes from an honest appraisal of events and an honest appraisal of history.”

Aly spoke to the importance of recognizing Australia’s role in aiding Armenians.
“The humanitarian efforts by Australians towards Armenians should be recognized as an important part of our history,” Aly said. “It serves to remind us all that even in war there is heroism, there is compassion, and there is shared humanity.”

The Armenian National Committee of Australia led a delegation of community representatives — including leaders of local Armenian, Greek and Assyrian organizations and clergy — to witness the historical 30-minute debate in the Federation Chamber of Parliament House.

“Our presence here is a gesture of thanks on behalf of our ancestors, all descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, who would be resting that little bit easier after seeing Australia take this significant step towards full recognition of the crimes against humanity that took their lives, their homes and their belongings,” Kayserian said.

“This is a motion that brings immense honor to Australia, and for us Australians of Armenian origin — the vast majority being descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” Kayserian added. “This is a day of immense pride, knowing that our nation helped our ancestors, 14,000 kilometers away, over 100 years ago at a critical time of need for their very survival.”

“The gag order on the use of Armenian Genocide by Australia’s federal government has received a sizeable blow,” Kayserian said. “But our work must not stop until Australian Parliament follows the Parliaments of New South Wales and South Australia in affirming the historical truth of the Armenian Genocide.”

 

SOURCE: http://asbarez.com/173026/australian-parliament-holds-debate-on-armenian-genocide/

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Boko Haram: Troops Urged to Respect Human Rights

Major General Rogers Nicholas, the theater Commander of Operation Lafiya Dole, has reiterated that respect for human rights and protection of civilians by troops in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in North East must be sacrosanct.

Gen. Nicholas made this assertion, weekend, at the headquarters of the  Command in Maiduguri, Borno State, when he received in audience Martin Ejidike, a senior human rights adviser from the Office of the Resident Coordinator, United Nations System in Nigeria.

Speaking further during the meeting with the UN envoy, the commander pointed out that though the operations in the North East was asymmetrical in nature, pointing out that there were mechanisms in place to guide troops’ conduct in their host communities, as well as Rules of Engagement for the execution of their operational mandate.

He added that the “hierarchy of the military has zero tolerance for violation of any of these provisions”, hence the establishment of a standing Military Court Marshall to try errant personnel.

General Nicholas also disclosed that suspects were only arrested in the theatre when they were found to have participated directly in acts of terrorism or acted to aid and abet acts tantamount to terrorism.

Boko Haram suspects in custody, he noted, are pending prosecution because it does not fall within the purview of the military. He called on the prosecuting agencies to expedite action on the trial of the suspects to sieve out the acquitted from the convicted.

The commander also revealed that Boko Haram suspects, who voluntarily surrendered to troops and in custody, were being processed for onward transfer to Operation Safe Corridor, for deradecalisation and rehabilitation programme. He assured the UN adviser of unfettered access to the sittings and proceedings of the Military Court Marshall in the theatre, when the court resumes.

Ejidike, on his own part, said he was in the theatre to deliberate on pertinent issues bordering on human rights, and also to meet with the commander to acquaint the command with the developments on the establishment of a UN human rights office in the theatre.

He added that the move was also aimed at ensuring that the conduct of ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East were consistent with human rights provisions in Nigeria.

 

SOURCE; Todays News https://www.today.ng/news/nigeria/boko-haram-troops-urged-respect-human-rights-126165#

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Researcher Tells ICC that LRA Attacks Have a Long-Term…

A researcher told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks on three camps for internally displaced people (IDP) 14 years ago continue to have a negative impact on survivors of those attacks as well as their children.

Teddy Atim told the court on May 4 that survivors of the attacks on the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek IDP camps were generally worse off compared to other northern Ugandans who did not suffer similar attacks. Atim is a researcher with the Feinstein International Center of Tufts University.

Referring to research she conducted with others, Atim said there is a higher percentage of people with disabilities among survivors of the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek attacks compared to northern Ugandans not attacked by the LRA. She said because their parents are poor, many children of survivors of the three attacks were not in school.

Atim was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged for his alleged role in the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek attacks that occurred between April and June 2004.

Ongwen has also been charged with attacking a fourth IDP camp, sex crimes, and conscripting child soldiers. In total, he is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Atim was an expert witness called by lawyers representing one group of victims in the trial. That legal team is led by Joseph Akwenyu Manoba and Francisco Cox, and they represent 2,599 victims. Atim based her testimony on May 4 on a report wrote she co-wrote with others.

She said some of the information in the report was drawn from a separate report the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium produced. The consortium, of which Atim is a member, produced the report earlier this year, and it is based on a survey of about 1,700 people in Uganda. Atim said for her report she relied on the portions involving 829 people in northern Uganda who were not attacked by LRA. She said her report was also based on a victims’ assessment survey she and her co-authors conducted of 396 people who survived the LRA attacks on Abok, Lukodi, and Odek.

Atim told the court that it was important to have the data from the two separate surveys to be able to compare the current situation of survivors of LRA attacks with that of people who were not attacked by the LRA attacks.

On May 4, Cox asked Atim about her findings on disability. She said in the reports they used the Uganda People With Disability Act as guide on how to assess disability. Atim said 67 percent of the survivors of the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek attacks had some level of disability. She said 21 percent of the general population had some level of disability.

“Also, what is important to note is … individual experiences does not only impact the particular person. It impacts the entire household,” said Atim.

“You will find at least two members of a household reporting some level of disability … it does affect the overall dependency of that household,” continued Atim.

She said most of the people they interviewed with disability told them nearby health facilities did not have the medicine they required or the specialized care they needed. Atim said for many of them the specialized care they needed was far away. She gave the example of a man with an artificial limb.

“For him … every time his artificial limbs gets damaged he needs to get a replacement, but the nearest health facility does not provide that. He has to travel every time to Gulu town where he gets the replacement done,” said Atim.

She said because of these difficulties, many people said, “We simply pain medicate.”

Cox also asked Atim what her research found out about the education of children of survivors of the attacks on Abok, Lukodi, and Odek. She said that because many of the survivors’ livelihood had been destroyed, they were not able to keep their children in school. She said instead they had their children stay at home to do chores.

“We conclude it’s clearly an aspect of the inter-generational effects of the attacks that they [the children of survivors] continue not to enjoy the opportunity to go to school,” said Atim.

Later on, when Abigail Bridgman, a lawyer for Ongwen, questioned Atim she asked about some of the details in Atim’s report relating to education. Bridgman then followed up on the question of children not being able to go to school.

“Again, still focussing on education, isn’t true that in Uganda, primary and secondary education is free or should be free to all?” asked Bridgman.

“That’s true,” answered Atim.

When Bridgman concluded her questions for Atim, Cox asked a question in re-examination because of the issue Bridgman had raised about free education in Uganda.

Cox asked Atim about a line in her report in which she noted one of the interviewees said that they paid 20,000 Ugandan shillings per child in school. He asked her to explain what the amount referred to.

Atim said education in Uganda is supposed to be free, but there are hidden costs.

“Some of these costs have to do with what we call development fund. Some parents have to pay for feeding their own children when they go to school,” said Atim.

Towards the end of his questioning, Cox asked Atim what her general conclusions were.

“Having said all that I have said, looking at access to services, education, to health, looking at household well-being in terms of wealth, looking at experiences of crimes during attacks, our conclusion is that overall they are worse off compared to the general population. They’re still struggling a lot,” said Atim.

A little later, Presiding Judge Schmitt asked Atim what the survivors told her they wanted done about what they had gone through.

“Do the victims want to forget about having been victimized or do they want to, on the other side, be recognized as victims?” asked Judge Schmitt.

“When I spoke to people, a lot of what I heard was about, ‘We need what happened to us [to be] recognized. We need the people responsible to be held accountable,’” replied Atim.

“And another question that has to do with the experience of crimes and being a victim, but now about crimes afterwards that had nothing to do with the alleged attacks, your report seems to suggest that the victim population experiences significantly more crimes nowadays even. Why is that so, if it is so?” asked Judge Schmitt.

“Yes, that is so, that is what we found, and that has to do with what I had explained earlier, the continued victimization, stigmatization, isolation that these people continue to experience that happens,” said Atim.

“Particularly for women it has to do with the pervasive gender discrimination that is extensive in most of northern Uganda and, you know, having a child, you know, out of sexual violence, what does that mean for you, everyday interaction with others in the community,” continued Atim.

“So, we do see a pattern of victimization, but also what that means, it seems to mean that this harm seems to multiply over, you know, into other violations or into other experiences of crimes in today’s community,” concluded Atim.

She concluded her testimony on May 4. The next witness, Daryn Scott Reicherter, testified on Monday, May 14.

A transcript of Atim’s testimony can be found here.

SOURCE: International Justice Monitor

 

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NHRC President urges European Parliament to Examine Blockade Impact

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.

 

SOURCE  Gulf times http://www.gulf-times.com/story/590748/NHRC-President-urges-European-Parliament-to-examin

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ICC PRESIDENT VISITS NIGERIA. SILENT ON THE DOMESTIC IMPLEMENTATION…

 

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

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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 2-DAY CONSULTATIVE…

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.

  1. 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.
  2. That provision for adequate staffing of the courts is required to meet the increasing demands made on the court by the Community citizens.
  3. 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.
  4. A Legal Aid Fund should be established at the Court to facilitate access to justice for indigent victims of human rights abuses.
  5. 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.
  6. There is need to widen the frontiers of the ECCJ to confer criminal jurisdiction so that it can exercise adjudicatory powers over International crimes.
  7. That the capacity of the Court can be strengthened through concerted and collaborative efforts of Civil Society Organizations.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. There should be established, a multi-door court house and arbitral tribunals in the ECCJ.
  16. 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.
  17. The Court should collaborate with Universities in bridging the language deficiency gap and also delivery companies to fast-track dispatch of court processes.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. The CSOs resolves to engage with the member states and other institutions to promote political support for the Court.
  21. 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.
  22. 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

 

Signed:

Name                                                   Title and organisation/agency                                                

  1. Chino Obiagw Chair Steering Committee, NCICC
  2. Dr Abiola Akiyode       Vice-Chair NCICC
  3. Benson Olugbo                  CLEEN Foundation
  4. Wale Fapohunda               WABA
  5. Brenda Peace                      TrustAfrica
  6. Sina Odugbemi                   HEDA,Lagos
  7. Hajia Hamsatu Allamin Allamin Foundation
  8. Chetachi Louis Udeh Alliances for Africa
  9. Emeka Obegolu      ICMC
  10. Sufiya Bray    CSVR
  11. Mama Koite Doumbia   The Trust Fund for Victimes
  12. Uchechukwu Eze   WANEP
  13. Ossai Ojigbo   Amnesty International Nigeria
  14. Allan Ngari                         ISS
  15. Diallo Mamadou Guinee Coalition for the ICC

 

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NCICC and Trust Africa Two Days Consultative workshop on…

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.

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Mali War Crimes Suspect to Appear before Judges in…

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.

SOURCE: TimesLive https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/africa/2018-04-04-mali-war-crimes-suspect-to-appear-before-judges-in-the-hague/

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1 UN Peace Keeper Killed, 11 Hurt in Central…

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.

SOURCE: ABC NEWS http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/peacekeeper-killed-11-hurt-car-attack-54206918