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ECOWAS Set To Sanction Members For Disobeying Court Judgments

The Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) has disclosed that plans have been concluded to punish member states that are in the habit of disregarding and disobeying judgments of the ECOWAS court of justice.

President of the ECOWAS court of justice, Justice Edward Asante, made the disclosure while declaring open a regional capacity building workshop for law enforcement agencies on promoting best practices on structure, investigation and techniques of criminal asset seizures, freezing, confiscation, recoveries, management in compliance with United Nations security council resolutions in Abuja.

Asante stated that the habits of disobeying judgments of the ECOWAS court of justice by member state will be brought to an end soon as heads of states have reached a decision to sanction erring members. “Heads of States met and decided that member states should set up focal points in their various countries that would be responsible for the enforcement of the judgment and that has been put in place except that they have not started the regulations. We hope that they would start it and there is also sanction for those who do not embark on that, so I think in the very near future that would be carried out so that they would enforce the judgment for the court to have its prestige”.

While commending GIABA for being proactive in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in the region, he however called for the immediate revision of the status of GIABA to make it more effective. “the established architecture of GIABA on the 10thof December 1999 by the authority of heads of states and governments of ECOWAS is outdated and woefully inadequate to meet the challenges of today; and much less those of tomorrow, especially with the emergence of multiple complex crimes worldwide.

GIABA’s director general, Kimelabalou Aba that was represented by the director programmes and projects, Buno Nduka, remarked that, “GIABA member states continue to record low number of confiscation of tainted property. This is due to dearth of expertise to identify, trace, seize, freeze and confiscate proceeds of crime”.

He stressed that the workshop, which is the third, is aimed at building the capacity of participants to use modern techniques to identify, trace, recover and manage assets related to money laundering and associated predicate offences, and the financing of terrorism.

On his part, the director, Nigeria financial intelligence unit (NFIU), Francis Usani, called on member states to put relevant laws in place to checkmate money laundering and terrorism financing, adding that, when criminals are allowed to keep the proceeds of their crime, they become empowered and sophisticated in their operations.

He said, “criminal asset confiscation and recoveries become a more critical and important element in the fight against crime, because when you take the benefit of crime from the criminal, the motivation to commit the crime diminishes”.

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EU, ECOWAS commend FG on progress made in fight…

The EU and ECOWAS have commended Nigeria and the sub-regional body in the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram in the North East.

The two organisations made the commendation in a communique issued at the end of the 22nd ECOWAS-EU political meeting on Friday in Abuja.

The meeting which was at the ministerial level of EU-ECOWAS was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Mustapha Suleiman, and Secretary of State of Finance Republic of Austria, Hebert Fuchs as Chair of Council of EU.

Sulaiman represented the Chair of ECOWAS Council of Minister while Fuchs spoke on behalf of High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

“The participants exchanged views on the security and humanitarian situation in the North East, Nigeria.

“Both sides commended the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram but noted with concern the recent increase in attacks by terrorist groups.

“Referring to its support provided to the Multinational Joint Task Force, the EU expressed its commitment to support the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in addressing the multiple remaining challenges in this region through a comprehensive approach,” it stated.

The participants according to the communique, noted the challenging general security environment ahead of the Feb.16, 2019 election in Nigeria.

The challenge, it noted was occasioned by mainly Boko Haram activities in the Northeast, the Farmers-Herders conflict in the middle Belt regions, among other threats.

“They highlighted the importance of addressing among others, the root causes of conflicts and basic needs of the population related to the strengthening of resilient humanitarian access to the affected areas.

“The participants applauded the growing cooperation and collaboration that characterized the relations between the EU and ECOWAS.

“They underscored their shared values and increasing convergence of views in the areas of peace and security, governance, migration, trade and other development-related issues.

“They reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and security in the ECOWAS region and their willingness to deepen their cooperation in these areas in line with ECOWAS Protocol and regional mechanism,” it stated.

It stated that the EU particularly expressed its appreciation of the measure being taken by ECOWAS in strengthening peace and security as well as consolidation of the gains of democratisation process in West Africa.

The communique added that ECOWAS and the EU took note of the commencement of negotiation on future ACP-EU relations after 2020.

“They welcome the willingness expressed by the negotiating parties to readjust these future relations in the light of the current and emerging global challenges.

“Also to strengthen their partnership towards the implementation of the development agenda and realisation of multilateral commitment.

“Participants reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the strategic relations between ECOWAS and the EU after 2020,” it stated.

It stated that they agreed to continue the dialogue on developmental cooperation and multiannual financial framework, at a special session of the Strategic Orientation Committee.

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ECOWAS Parliament begins second Ordinary Session

 

The Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on the 15th of November 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria began the second ordinary session of its fourth legislature.

During the month-long session, the regional Parliamentarians will among others, consider and adopt the 2019 programme of activities of the community Parliament.

Declaring the session open, the Speaker, Moustapha Cisse Lo noted that the agenda before the on-going session calls mainly for the consideration of the Community Budget in accordance with Articles 7 and 17 of the Supplementary Act relating to the enhancement of the powers of the ECOWAS Parliament.

He stressed that other matters to be considered include the speech of the President of the ECOWAS Commission on the State of the Community, country reports, referrals from the ECOWAS Commission on the Community texts, reports of the fact-finding and parliamentary oversight missions as well as Workshops and interactive sessions with the technical and financial partners.

The Speaker ruminated through two main “intersession activities” of Parliament and highlighted in this regard, the last two delocalised meetings of the year 2018, the first of which successively held in Guinea Bissau and The Gambia respectively.

The second which had to do with the 2018 Second Extraordinary Session that took place in September 2018, in Cote d’Ivoire enabled the adoption and incorporation of the budget of Parliament into the general budget of the Community, in accordance with our Supplementary Act.

The Speaker further reported that three parliamentary oversight missions were simultaneously sent, from 4 to 8 October, to the institutions and agencies responsible for the implementation of the Community policies and programmes in Senegal, Burkina Faso as well as Benin, Togo, Ghana.

Similarly, he disclosed that two parliamentary fact-finding missions were undertaken to Liberia and Agadez in the Republic of Niger during the year under reference among the many other exertions of the body of parliamentarians.

He recalled that the meetings held were innovative and “relevant diplomatic initiatives, which attests to the continued commitment of the ECOWAS Parliament to the integration and prosperity of Africa, as well as the peace and unity of the continent”

On the imminence (first quarter of 2019) of general elections in Nigeria and Senegal Speaker Lo noted, among others, that the role of Parliament in monitoring these elections will be crucial in strengthening democracy and establishing the credibility of the elections.

Goodwill messages for the parliamentary session were led by that of the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, represented at the event by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Infrastructure Mr. Pathe Gueye who expressed solidarity with the parliamentarians while wishing them fruitful deliberations.

On his part, the president of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice Judge Asante Amoako Edward who was represented by the Vice President of the Court Juge Gberi-Be Ouattara, noted that in sharing the ECOWAS objectives of economic and social integration which are a concern for the Parliament, ECOWAS Court of Justice is convinced that it can and must bring its contribution to achieving same.

He said the Court, commits itself to “contribute its stone to the construction of the community building, by rendering a justice which soothes, reassures and establishes the balance”.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Niger Mr. Ousseini Tinni disclosed that from the beginning of ECOWAS, his compatriots have “shared the ideal of peace, progress and unity of (General Yakubu) Gowon and (General Gnassingbe) Eyadema.

He stressed: “We must all continue to carry the torch of a community that knows how to overcome borders and particularisms, economic disparities and chauvinism, to build a viable economic whole, beyond any narrow sovereignty, to give our countries a chance to take off!”

Other guests in attendance included Speaker of the House of Representatives of Liberia, Mr Bhofal Chambers, envoys accredited to Nigeria and ECOWAS as well as representatives of the International and Inter-African Organisations. The session is expected to feature among others, an activity under the aegis of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) with the theme- Strengthening mobilisation against child trafficking and labour: Parliament’s efforts.

This is being carried out in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO) with the support of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

 

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DIGITAL CASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR THE ECOWAS COURT TO…

The new digital case management system being developed by the Community Court of Justice is aimed at computerizing the Court’s case management system which will enable the online filing of cases. This was presented to the new Judges of the Court during their 7th Retreat held in October,2018 in Nassarawa State.

The system will also be demonstrated to the judges to enable them make input towards its finalization.

The three-day retreat, the first for the judges and which is on the theme ‘Strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice,’ also enabled the judges discuss the 2019 draft budget of the Court. The budget was adopted during the Administration and Budget Retreat of the Court held between 22 and 26th July 2018, before the swearing in and assumption duty of the new judges.

Two other presentations on Adjournments, Stakeholders and the Image of the Court as well as the Rules of Procedure of the Court was made during the retreat.

The new judges, who were sworn in on 31st July 2018 for a four-year tenure include the President, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante (Ghana), and the Vice President, Honorable Justice Gberi-Be Ouattara (Cote d’Ivoire), both of which were elected for a two year term.

The others include Hon Justice Dupe Atoki (Nigeria); Hon. Justice Keikura Bangura (Sierra Leone); and Hon. Justice Januaria Silva Moreira Costa (Cabo Verde).

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ECOWAS Court Laments Human Rights Abuse in Nigeria, Ghana,…

The President of the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Justice Edward Asante, has described as “serious” the issue of human rights abuse in Nigeria and Ghana, among others, particularly the attack on journalists by some governments through their various state apparatus.

Asante also lamented the poor level of enforcement of the decisions of the ECOWAS Court by member-states in the sub-region while calling on the civil society organisations (CSOs) to develop mechanism that would compel government of their various countries to comply with the judgment of the court.

The president stated this at the weekend while receiving a network of lawyers, human rights activists from 9 West African countries namely: Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone under the auspices of Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africa (PILIWA), at the Community Court in Abuja.

“We know it is a very serious issue in our continent. Even till date, there are governments and presidents still inflicting bad things on their citizenry and it is our duty here to uphold their rights, particularly those of journalists and other people who are being bastardized because they are speaking the truth doing the right thing trying to report government who are doing bad things”, he said.

He said the ECOWAS Court was established initially to tackle issues only between member states but, following the high level of abuse of rights of citizens by governments of member States, the regional body in its supplementary protocol of 2005 expanded the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court to now adjudicate on human rights violations in the subregion.

Justice Asante assured that the court will always do its best to deal expeditiously in the interest of justice particularly that of the human rights cases that has brought his guest.

On the issue of disobedience of the orders of the court by government of some member states, Justice Asante remarked that the development of not curtailed now would eventually lead to the death of the court.
He disclosed that so far, only about three or four countries have taking the initiative to enforce the judgment of the Court and in most cases, it is not all the judgments they enforce.

He said: “The court would rely heavily on institutions and civil society organizations to help propagate the ills governments are doing to judgments of the court because the court.

“It is our wish that the civil society, especially professional groups, lawyers, would bear on the governments and various institutions so that they will comply with provisions of the amended protocol, to set up authorities in their governments and legal systems to enforce our judgments.

While noting that the court will be commencing the new legal year with about 106 cases, he disclosed that 12 among them are due for judgment by November this year.

Country Focal Person, PILIWA Nigeria, Barrister Chima Williams, said the group is interested in plans by the Court to take steps towards making provisions for enforcement of decisions which PILIWA can help amplify.

“As we come from different countries in West Africa, it will be our duty to equally talk to our governments to say the rules for this court is due for review. Citizens who get judgments here should have it enforced.

The group believes the ECOWAS Court is key to promoting and protecting human rights in the region, given the strategic roles the court has been playing over the years in bridging the gap in our regional, national laws and judicial systems.

Williams explained that part of the purpose of the groups visit was to urge the court to consider a process of reviewing how it can give more access to communities across the region.

It also wants the Community Court to expand its jurisdictional reach and enforcement mechanisms to guarantee that citizens who look to the court when they are denied access to justice in their national jurisdictions are not left more confused after securing erudite judgments from the court.

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COMMUNITY COURT TO LAUNCH ITS INAUGURAL OUTREACH PROGRAMME IN…

The ECOWAS Court has unveiled a historic outreach programme that will enable it engage with the region’s citizens as part of its campaign to improve public awareness and access to the Court whose role in the protection of  human rights has become it defining mandate.

The phased outreach programme will be launched next year in communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia, the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Edward Asante told a delegation of Public Interest Lawyering Initiative for West Africa (PIWA) during its visit to the CourtFriday, 19thOctober 2018 .

Justice Asante said the programme, the first by the Court, will complement the Court’s existing public information platforms as well as sensitization campaigns, which are mainly focused on radio and television programmes with an advocacy component.

He expressed concern about the poor enforcement of the Court’s decisions by Member States ‘and our wish that the Civil society would help in pressuring the States to comply with their obligations under provisions of the Protocol on the Court relating to the enforcement of the decisions of the Court,’ that requires them to designate focal points for the purpose and enforce in accordance with their rules of civil procedure.

Information available at the Court’s Registry showed that 28 decisions have been enforced while there is no record of enforcement for the remaining 53 decisions.

‘A Court can’t be effective except its decisions are enforced,’ the President said, noting that the success of the Court is attributable to its independence, strength and insistence on holding Member States accountable for their Treaty obligations.

Earlier, the Nigerian focal point of PIWA, Prince Chima Williams, said the visit was to familiarize the members with the dynamics, processes and decisions of the Court as part its engagement with the Court.

He assured the President of the group’s support, using its network, in the area of the enforcements of its decisions and the expansion of the access by community citizens.

Later, the Chief Registrar, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh made a presentation on the various aspects of the court, its mandate and jurisprudence followed by a question and answer session.

Members of PIWA are drawn from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. Also included in the delegation were officials representing Non-governmental Organisations (NGO’s) from South Africa and the United States of America.

 

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COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT END OF STRATEGY PLANNING MEETING OF…

 

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 8-10 OCTOBER 2018.

                                                                      

Between 8th and 9th October 2018, members of the African Network on International Criminal Justice (ANICJ) which comprises civil society organizations working to promote justice, peace and the rule of law in Africa, met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to adopt its operational Charter and prepare its 3-year strategic plan towards the fight against impunity for international crimes in Africa.

 

The meeting was facilitated by the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court with funding support of the European Commission.

 

Members of the Network from 21 countries of Africa participated in the meetings, and at end of which the network resolved as follows:

 

  1. The Charter of the Network, which sets out the operational values and principles, was validated and adopted.

 

  1. The sub regional Focal Points of the network were appointed for the 5 geographic regions of the continent, namely, Moroccan Coalition for the ICC (North Africa), Institute for Security Studies (Southern Africa), Ivorian Coalition for the ICC (West Africa), Burundian Coalition for ICC (East Africa) and the Congolese Coalition for the ICC (Central Africa). The Nigerian Coalition for the ICC hosts the coordinating secretariat, and the global Coalition for the ICC is the co-convener of the Network.

 

  1. The Focal Points are mandated to coordinate the operations of the network in their respective sub-regions, engage governments of countries in their sub-regions in the fight against impunity, and expand the network to bring in more civil society organizations, academia, activists and human rights defenders.

 

Human Rights Situation in Burundi

 

  1. The network welcomes the effort of the African Union to bring stability and peace in Burundi, but condemns the continued arrest and imprisonment of several human rights defenders in Burundi. On the invitation of the Burundian government offered to the Network by the Burundian Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Commission, His Excellency, Dieudonee Ndabarushimana, the network resolved to send a delegation of its members to that country in the last quarter of 2018 in order to assess the situation of human rights and measure taken by the national judicial institution to hold perpetrator of international crimes accountable. The delegation will also undertake any possible constructive engagement with the Burundian government as contribution to bringing peace, rule of law and stability in the country. The Network commends the government of Burundi for the invitation for the mission extended to the Network and assures the government and people of Burundi of the Network objectivity its interventions in the country.

 

Increasing access of civil society to the African Union Commission and meetings

 

  1. The Network expresses concern at the difficulties encountered by civil society organizations in Africa in gaining physical and information access to the African Union Commission and meetings of the Union, and urges the African Union Commission to reform its process of ECOSOC accreditation in order to give more civil society organizations opportunity to contribute positively and constructively to the development of the continent.

 

  1. As the emerging voice of civil society in Africa on international justice issues, the network resolves to apply for accreditation of the ECOSOC of the African Union in order to facilitate its members from across Africa to have increased access to the African Union Commission and its institutions so as to enhance the voice of civil society in African in the affairs of the African Union.

 

International Criminal Court and Africa

 

  1. The Network affirms its commitment to the core values of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court and the guiding principles of the global Coalition for the ICC, and commends the ICC in its continued efforts in tackling impunity across the world including in Africa. However, the Network notes with dismay that the number of cases currently investigated or prosecuted at the ICC is too little and unduly protracted to meet the huge expectations of the victims of atrocity crimes in Africa and the resources the state parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC expend on the court.

 

  1. The Network welcomes the support given to the ICC by many African state parties especially in diplomatically resolving the erstwhile threats of mass withdrawal of African states parties from the Rome Statute. The Network urges African State Parties to work together in a coordinated manner to fulfill their respective treaty obligations under the Statute. Furthermore, the network urge the African state parties to fully pay up their financials dues to the ICC and fully cooperation with the court in accordance with their treaty obligations under the Statute.

 

Threats to the integrity and independence of the ICC

  1. The Network condemns the recent threats to the ICC and its officials by the governments of the United States of America, which are capable of undermining the independence of the court and worsen the situation of impunity across the world. The network urges the US, as well as China and Russia to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC and fully support the court as a way of demonstrating true leadership of the world.

 

African union and rule of law in Africa

 

  1. The Network welcomes the new initiatives of the African Union Commission to improve good governance, the rule of law and accountability for international crimes in the continent, including the adoption of the Protocol to merge the African Court on Human and People’s Rights with the proposed African Court of Justice and introduce jurisdiction for international crimes (the Malabo Protocol). The Network is however concerned that the provisions of article 46bis of the Protocol, which confers immunity from arrest and prosecution to heads of state and senior government officials undermines the essential purpose of the Protocol and contradicts all extant international laws on immunities for international crimes.

 

  1. The Network resolves to constructively engage the African Union Commission and the African state governments in seeking ways to review and improve the provisions of the Malabo Protocol in order to actualize its intention of establishing an effective regional framework of accountability for international crimes to compliment the International Criminal Court and national judicial systems. To this end, the Network proposes to organize a high-level Summit on the Malabo Protocol in the first quarter of 2019 to bring together key stakeholders in order to advance effective and functional African strategies for fighting against impunity in the continent.

 

  1. The Network further calls on African states that have not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC and the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC to do so without delay in order to contribute to effort of the international community to fight impunity for international crimes.

 

Accountability for atrocity crimes in Africa

 

  1. The Network is concerned that most of the violations of human rights, humanitarian laws and atrocity crimes committed in Africa are not investigated and prosecuted. Most perpetrators of these crimes remain in power and continue to commit more violations. The victims are not given any redress or justice. The Network calls on African governments to improve on their national judicial institutions so as to ensure that all violators of human rights are fully brought to justice and the victims adequately redressed.

 

Victims of human rights violation and international crimes in Africa

 

  1. The Network is concerned that millions of victims of human rights violations and international crimes across Africa, especially in ICC’s situation and Preliminary examination countries, have not received justice, and condemns the African Union for not giving priority attention to victims’ reparation. The Network resolves to coordinate and support networks of Victims groups across the continent in order to give voice to the victims. To this end, the network proposed to hold a meeting of Victims’ groups across African in the first quarter of 2019 to articulate the priority needs and effective strategies of demanding for justice.

 

  1. The Network notes that the Extra-ordinary Criminal Chambers of the African Union that held in Dakar Senegal to try ex-President of Thad, Hussein Habra, awarded reparations to victims of the atrocities committed by ex-President Habra, but regrets that these victims have not been paid. The Network urges the African Union to establish a Contributory Victims’ Reparation Fund to meet needs of victims in the continent including complying with the judicial order for reparation for victims in Thad. The Network resolves to work with victims’ networks in Thad to undertake the mapping of the relevant victims and to work towards ensuring that they are redressed.

 

  1. On specific situation and Preliminary examination countries, the Network note as follows:

 

  1. Central African Republic: The Network commends of the international community and the government of CAR to establish the Special courts in Bangui and urges all stakeholders to speed up the process of the courts in order to bring justice for many victims of atrocity crimes in the country.

 

  1. Mali: The network commends the opening of the trials at the ICC of Malian cases, and fresh arrests and investigations undertaken by the ICC in Mali, but notes that the security situation in the country is still very fragile, exacerbated by the events of the July 2018 general elections. The network urges the Malian government to resolve all legally electoral disputes in order to reduce electoral conflicts that could lead to atrocity crimes in the country.

 

  1. Cote d’Viore : The Network notes the continued effort of the government of Cote d’Voire to bring perpetrators of atrocity crimes to justice, and the ICC’s proceedings against the former head of State, but is concerned that only one side of the conflict is being investigated and prosecuted. The Network is also concerned that the victims of the violence that lead to the ICC’s intervention have not been fully compensated, and urges the government of Cote d’Voire to increase its efforts in redressing all identified victims.

 

  1. Nigeria: The Network commends the efforts of government of Nigeria in opening the prosecutions of suspect of atrocity crimes by Boko Haram terrorists, but condemn the failure of the government to also investigate and prosecute military officials and other security personnel and members of military-backed paramilitary group called the Civilian Joint Task Force who are widely accused of committing violations of human rights and international crimes. The Network urges the Prosecutor of the ICC to conclude its preliminary examination of Nigeria and to open investigations and indict any perpetrator of international crimes in the country.

 

  1. Guinea: The Network notes that the preliminary examination of the situation in Guinea by the Prosecutor of the ICC in respect of the September 29 2011 atrocities has not be concluded several  years after it was opened, and urges the prosecutor to conclude the examinations forthwith and open investigations and indict any suspected perpetrator of international  This is important to assure the victims who are still alive that that they can get justice within their lifetime, as many of the victims have died due to the aftereffect of the violations they suffered. Also, the Government must take all necessary measures to grant temporary compensations to the victims.

 

  1. Democratic Republic of the Congo: The Network is worried at the recent declaration of DRC government officials to withdraw its ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and urges the government of DCR not to consider a withdrawal but to support the ICC and civil society actors in DRC to fight impunity and ensure accountability for atrocity crimes.

 

  1. South Africa: The Network commends the government of South Africa in recent indications of its intention to cease the legislative processes of repealing the International Crimes Act and suspend its withdrawal from the Rome Statutes. The network also commends government of South African for paying up part of its financial dues to the ICC, and encourages it to continue to play leadership role in the sub regions towards the fight against impunity

 

  1. Burundi: the Network commends the declaration by the President of Burundi of his intention not to seek re-election at the end of his current third tenure in office in 2020, which will hopefully bring considerable easing of political tension in the country, and urges him not to retract from this commitment. The Network also urges the Burundian government to open its boarders to the international community so as to assist it in bringing peace and stability in the country. The network condemns the expulsion of United Nations experts, the reduction of the African Union observer contingent, and continued arrest and incarceration of several human rights defenders in Burundi, and urges the government of Burundi to release all human rights defenders in detention. The network condemns the terrible decision of the Burundi government to withdraw from the Rome Statute in order to continue the massacres and crimes against humanity without prosecution nor the possibility of involving international criminal justice. The network commends the step already taken by the ICC in the case of Burundi and calls on the prosecutor of the ICC to take the next step to bring the alleged perpetrators of crimes to justice.

 

Victims’ Trust Fund of the ICC

 

  1. The network commends the Victims Trust Fund of the ICC in its efforts of providing considerable redress to victims in CAR and many other situations in Africa, but urges State Parties to the Rome Statutes to make more voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund.

 

  1. The network calls on all civil society organizations, human rights defenders, academics working on international justice, and bar associations across Africa to join the Network in order to increase coordination and commitment of the civil society to the fight against impunity for international crimes in the continent.

 

  1. The Network expresses gratitude to the government of Ethiopia for hosting the network’s meetings, and to diplomatic missions to the African Union in Addis Ababa that meet with the network’s delegation during the period of the meetings, including the missions of Nigeria, Burundi, Sudan, The Netherlands, European Union and the global Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) for its support to the African Network.

 

 

  1. Dated and adopted at Addis Ababa this day of       2018

 

  1. Signed by the following members of the African Network for International Criminal Justice

Nigerian Coalition for the ICC

Institute for Security Studies (ISS) South Africa

Southern African Litigation Center (SALC)

International Commission of Jurists Kenya section

Ivorian Coalition for the ICC

DRC Coalition for the ICC

Central African Republic Coalition for the ICC

Malian Coalition for the ICC

Burundian Coalition for the ICC

Ugandan Coalition for the ICC

Guinean Coalition for the ICC

Moroccan Coalition for the ICC

Moroccan Center for Peace and Law

Burkina Faso Coalition for the ICC

 

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International Conference on Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC)…

 

Press release

02 November, 2018

 

Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) in partnership with Nigerian Coalition on International Criminal Court (NCICC) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) holds a 1-Day international Conference on Jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC) and Cross-Border Corruption / Illicit Asset Recovery.

The International Conference is in furtherance of commitment towards mobilizing sustained partnership in the fight against corruption and in particular to address the menace of illicit funds as well as to enhance the recovery of stolen assets across  borders.

The International Conference with the theme: Situating Jurisdiction of ICC over Cross-Border Corruption and Illicit Asset Recovery – Evolving Global Understanding and Partnership is aimed at appraising the mandate of ICC in dealing with issues relating to cross-border corruption from the broad cover of its mandate on ‘Crimes against Humanity’. The Conference is scheduled to hold at Protea Hotel, Isaac John Street, GRA, Ikeja on Tuesday, 13th November, 2018 beginning from 10am.

The Conference to be chaired by Professor Itse Sagay, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption will feature a Keynote Address titled: Corruption As Crime Against Humanity: ICC And Compelling Challenge Of A Global Monster to be delivered by Mr. Paul Hoffman, the Chairman of Accountability Now, South Africa. Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, Network of Commonwealth Heads of Anti-Corruption Agencies in Africa and Chairman, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) will be guest of honour

 

Lead presentations at the international Conference include (a) Exploring Nexus Between Jurisdiction Of ICC, Domestic Laws And International Statutes On Corruption And Crimes Against Humanity to be delivered by Hon. Fatou  Bensouda Chief Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), (b) ICC And Global Civil Society: Dismantling Scourge Of Corruption Beyond Domestic Boundaries to be delivered by Nigerian Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, (SAN), (c) Beyond Domestic And International Boundaries: How ICC Can Connect With The Imperatives Of Countering Crime Of Corruption Within The Confines Of Its Statutes to be delivered by Chinonye Obiagwu.

 

The outcome of the International Conference is expected to stimulate global advocacy aimed at deploying the mandate of ICC into combating global corruption and prosecution of acts of corruption that violate human rights and exacerbate crimes against humanity or commence the process of establishing an International Ant-Corruption Court. The conference will evolve frameworks to be considered for adoption at the Assembly of States Parties at its annual meeting for the purposes of reviewing the general policies of ICC to enhance jurisdictional competence in line with ongoing advocacy towards making ICC relevant in the fight against crimes of corruption or create a new mechanism for the purpose of addressing the human rights  conflicts and economic impacts of corruption across the globe.

 

Supported by Mcarthur Foundation.

 

Lanre Suraj

Chairman, HEDA

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NCICC and Trust Africa Set Up Network for Effective…

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court working in partnership with TrustAfrica to implement a project aimed at contributing to strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice  held a two-day consultative workshop on the 11-12 April, 2018 on “Strengthening the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and Enhancing Access to Justice in the Sub-Region”.

The meeting allowed for constructive dialogue with stakeholders and key actors from civil society organizations, Ministries of justice and ECCJ on key issues and concerns that relate to the capacity of the Court to administer efficient, expeditious and cost-effective justice delivery for victims of human rights violations in the sub-regions and to improve awareness and understanding of the functioning of the court.

At the close of the meeting, several key decisions were reached, one of which was for CSOs to form a coalition under the umbrella and name of “Coalition for Effective ECOWAS Community Court of Justice” with a mandate to support the Court, work with all its organs in strengthening its capacity and systems, and engage with the members states to ensure the integrity, capacity, and resources of the Court are adequately provided.

IMPORTANCE OF THE NETWORK

The role of civil society organisations in the democratic framework of the West Africa sub-region mostly in promoting and enhancing social and economic rights and addressing the challenges faced cannot be overemphasized. Despite the vast potential and the advantage that the ECOWAS Court has in advancing human rights in the sub-region it is not functioning effectively and efficiently. Even with the irrefutable achievements of the ECCJ in delivering landmark judgment and setting precedents in novel areas of human rights there is still a need for CSOs to take up activities geared towards effective enlightenment of the public on the benefits of the court.

In light of the above, the mandate of the network will be to engage in various supportive strategies and mechanisms that will foster the effective functioning of the Court and in demanding accountability from the government of member states including but not limited to the following;

  • Sensitization on the enforcement of the decisions of the court by member states which will help in strengthening the institution and also enhance the confidence and trust of the public in the court.
  • Engaging with member states and other institutions to secure political support for the Court.
  • Engage policy makers and also lobby them to promote accountability and support them to fulfill their obligations under the ECOWAS Treaty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Membership is open to all individuals and Civil Society Organizations working to promote human rights, rule of law and good governance in West Africa.
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Ten Years Later, Ugandan Court Finally Confirms 93 Charges…

On August 30, 2018 the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court in Kampala finally confirmed 93 charges against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Thomas Kwoyelo, who has been in detention since 2008.

For Kwoyelo, the wheels of justice have undoubtedly been slowed by numerous delays in his trial. Following his capture in 2008, Kwoyelo first appeared before the ICD in 2011. The start of his trial was delayed due to a preliminary objection raised by his defense lawyers who argued that he was entitled to amnesty under Uganda’s amnesty law,which was valid at the time of his capture. This matter was not settled until 2015, when Uganda’s Supreme Court ruled that Kwoyelo’s trial was constitutional and did not breach Uganda’s amnesty law.

In 2016, three pre-trial hearings were held in AprilAugust, and September, while in 2017, four pre-trial hearings were held in January, February, March, and July. While these pre-trial hearings were meant to pave the way for the confirmation of the charges against Kwoyelo, they instead created legal challenges that further stalled the trial. At one point, Kwoyelo’s defense counsel labelled the charges as “fatally and incurably defective,” arguing that the conflict in Uganda was largely domestic, and the prosecution cannot therefore charge Kwoyelo under international criminal law.

Other factors that caused delays included objections by the defense that Kwoyelo was not medically fit to stand trial, a delay in translation of the charge sheet and other documents into the Acholi language, and a disagreement between the defense and the prosecution over redaction and delayed disclosure of evidence.

On a very disappointing note, the court and the different legal entities involved are also to blame. On numerous occasions, court officials failed to show up at scheduled trials. In July 2017 for example, a hearing failed to take place when neither the judge, the prosecution, nor the defense lawyers showed up for the proceedings. In June 2018, a hearing had to be postponed yet again due to lack of quorum by the defense lawyers. On this occasion, the judge warned that it would be the last adjournment, while Kwoyelo expressed anger at the slow pace of the proceedings. In July 2018, another hearing failed to take place when the judiciary cited lack of funds. This was the third postponement in a row and left uncertainty about whether the charges against Kwoyelo would be confirmed.

The confirmation of charges therefore comes as relief to Kwoyelo and many other stakeholders who have waited a long time for the trial to move forward. At the hearing on August 30, 2018, proceedings progressed smoothly, after a few preliminary objections raised by the defense.

Kowyelo’s defense told court that they were not ready to proceed because the charge sheet had not been translated into Luo as earlier ordered by court. The defense argued that in the interest of justice and for Kwoyelo to understand the charges against him, the charge sheet needed to be translated. Kwoyelo’s court appointed lawyers also noted that they had not been given any funds by the court.

In response to the defense’s objections, Justice Susan Okalany, the presiding judge, expressed disappointment that the charge sheet had not been translated, and that the lawyers had not been given funds to prepare for the trial. She thus ordered the court registrar to follow up and rectify the issues.

The judge nevertheless noted that the defense’s concerns could not bar her from delivering the court’s ruling. In her opinion, Kwoyelo was sufficiently aware of the charges against him despite the charge sheet having not been translated.

The judge recapped the charges against Kwoyelo, noting that they include war crimes and crimes against humanity as spelled out under customary international law and the Ugandan penal code act. The charges include torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, pillage, murder, and rape, among others.

The judge noted that there was need for the court to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed to the main trial. She thus held that the court had a responsibility to establish whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain each of the charges and enough to prove that Kwoyelo actually committed the offences he is charged with. She also noted that the prosecution would have to establish whether there was a widespread and systematic attack on the civilian population, the exact attacks, and the knowledge of the accused about the attacks. The judge then proceeded to confirm the charges against Kwoyelo.

“The Court has established elements of the said offences to required standards for purposes of confirmation. The Court has found the evidence sufficient to commit the accused for trial and he will be informed of the date,” said Justice Okalany.

The ICD has already announced that justices Moses Mukiibi, Duncan Gaswaga, and Micheal Elubu will hear Kwoyelo’s case at the trial stage. With the charges against him having been finally confirmed, the stage has now been set for the main trial.

 

 

SOURCE : International Justice Monitor