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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

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Duterte Set to Withdraw Philippines from International Criminal Court

 Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte made the controversial decision to withdraw his country from the International Criminal Court amid a probe into alleged crimes against humanity in his brutal anti-drug crackdown that has killed thousands.

In a lengthy statement Wednesday, Duterte accused the ICC and the United Nations of a crusade against him, which he denounced as “baseless, unprecedented and outrageous attacks on my person.”

He said that the court cannot have jurisdiction over him because the Philippine Senate’s ratification in 2011 of the Rome Statue that established the court was never publicized as required by law.

The ICC announced last month that it was opening a preliminary examination into possible crimes against humanity over alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s drug crackdown. The president’s brutal war on drugs has killed an estimated 8,000 people since he took office in May 2016.

On Wednesday, Duterte pushed back at the allegations, arguing that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

“The so-called war against drugs is lawfully directed against drug lords and pushers who have for many years destroyed the present generation, [especially] the youth,” he wrote in a 15-page statement. “The deaths occurring in the process of legitimate police operation lacked the intent to kill.”

He continued: “The self-defense employed by the police officers when their lives became endangered by the violent resistance of the suspects is a justifying circumstance under our criminal law, hence, they do not incur criminal li

Duterte initially welcomed the changed to defend his name against ICC’s claims, but Wednesday said the court had shown a “brazen ignorance of the law.”

Duterte has acknowledged his rough ways and tough approach to crime, but suggested many Filipinos have come to accept him.

He has lashed out at European governments, saying they should “go to hell” for imposing conditions on financial aid.

On Wednesday, Duterte also invoked presidential immunity from lawsuits, which he said prevents the ICC from investigating him while he is in office. The president renewed his verbal attacks against U.N. human rights officials who have expressed alarm over the massive killings.

Last Friday, the United Nations’ human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, suggested that Duterte “needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation” over his “unacceptable” remarks about some top human rights defenders.

Critics expressed shock at Duterte’s decision, saying he was trying to escape accountability and fearing it could foster an even worse human rights situation in the country. Others called the move a foreign policy blunder that could embolden China to scoff at Manila’s victory in an international arbitration case against Beijing over contested territories.

Opposition Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate called Duterte’s move to withdraw the country from the Rome Statute a “grave setback to human rights and accountability.”

It is “intended to escape accountability by present and even future officials for crimes committed against the people and humanity,” Zarate said.

Should the UN accept Duterte’s withdrawal, it would make the Philippines only the second country to withdraw from the Rome statute, following Burundi in 2017.

 

SOURCE; http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/03/14/duterte-withdraws-philippines-from-international-criminal-court.html

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Nigerian ELECTED President of the International Criminal Court

Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji of Nigeria was elected president of the International Criminal Court during a plenary sitting of judges on the 1th of March 2018. His tenure is to last for three years beginning immediately

Eboe-Osuji, who said he was deeply honored by his election, has served at the ICC since March 2012 and continues his term through March 2021. “As I take up my duties, I feel encouraged that I am able to rely on the wide experience of the two Vice-Presidents, Judge Robert Fremr and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, both of whom I have closely worked with previously,” said Eboe-Osuji.

Fremr, of the Czech Republic, has served as ICC judge since 2012, while his French counterpart and second vice-president began serving his term in 2015. The presidency is responsible for the proper administration of the ICC in keeping with the Rome Statute that is the authorizing treaty.

The selection of Eboe-Osuji comes after years of dispute and dissatisfaction among African nations who are party to the treaty – Kenya and South Africa among them – and often charge that its authority, established in 2002, unfairly targets Africans. Burundi announced its ICC withdrawal in 2016, while the African Union called on member states to conduct “a more apt review” of their relationships with the court.

Six new ICC judges sworn in on Friday include two Africans. They are Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda, right, and Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou of Benin. There is a total of 18 judges, which also includes Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua of Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Bemba Et Al. Case: Appeals Chamber Issues Its Judgments…

 

On the 8th of March 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its judgments on the appeals against verdict and sentence in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido. Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, read a summary of the judgments in open court highlighting the key findings of the Appeals Chamber.

The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals submitted by the five accused against their conviction. It confirmed the convictions in respect of most of the charges. However, it acquitted Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda of the charge of presenting evidence that a party knows is false or forged (Article 70(1)(b) of the Rome Statute), finding that this provision only applies to the presentation of documentary evidence, not to the calling of witnesses, as in the case at hand. The convictions and acquittals in relation to the five accused are now final.

In relation to the sentences that Trial Chamber VII had imposed, Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido, as well as the Prosecutor, filed appeals. The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals of Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido. The sentences imposed on Mr Babala and Mr Arido are now final.

The Prosecutor had appealed against the sentences imposed on Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda. The Appeals Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s appeal, finding that the Trial Chamber committed several errors with respect to the assessment of the gravity of the offences. In addition, the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber did not have the power to impose suspended sentences, as it had done in relation Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo. The Appeals Chamber reversed the sentences of Mr Bemba, Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo and remanded the matter to the Trial Chamber for a new determination.

Background: On 19 October 2016, Trial Chamber VII found the five accused guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. These offences related to intentionally corruptly influencing witnesses and soliciting false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case before the ICC: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. On 22 March 2017, Trial Chamber VII delivered its Decision on Sentence pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute.

Following these decisions, Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Mr Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Judgment. The Prosecutor as well as Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Sentence.

The Appeals Chamber in these appeals is composed of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, Judge Howard Morrison, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson and Judge Piotr Hofmański.

SOURCE: http://www.haguejusticeportal.net/index.php?id=14469

 

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South Sudan Urges UN to Release Names of Officials…

President Salva Kiir’s spokesperson has challenged United Nations’ claim that 41 senior civil and military officials were involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity and called to reveal their names.

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South Sudan’s presidential spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny (AFP)

“We were told that over 40 officers were implicated but the names were not given. We challenge the UN to come up with the names and evidence,” said Ateny Wek Ateny.

He further stressed that his government would hold accountable any official who committed proved crimes.

“If there is real evidence that points to crimes committed by those generals, then the government will leave no stone unturned,” he stressed.

In a report released on Friday, the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan established the occurrence of violations during the past four years of civil war and identified those bearing responsibility for those crimes.

However, the presidential spokesperson was keen to say that such human rights violations would not tarnish the entire national army and its leadership.

The 2015 peace agreement provides to establish an independent hybrid court, to investigate and prosecute individuals bearing the responsibility for war crimes against humanity and violations committed in South Sudan from 15 December 2013 until the end of the transitional period.

However, no hybrid court has been set up as the government delays the procedures despite the signing of an agreement with the African Union in this regard.

The UN report details what it calls “appalling instances of cruelty against civilians who have had their eyes gouged out, their throats slit or been castrated”. It says such violence occurred during five major battles between government troops and rebels in 2016 and 2017.

In a statement issued on Friday, Seif Magango, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said the findings of this report and the acts of shocking brutality should push the international community to accelerate efforts to end the horrific human rights violations in South Sudan.

The report’s findings of yet more acts of shocking brutality, including men being castrated, women gang-raped, children, forced to watch their mothers being raped and boys forced to rape their family

“They demonstrate the critical need to establish the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and to renew the UN Commission on Human Rights’ mandate, which is due to expire in March,” said Magango.

Source: http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64832

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L’Union Africain exhorte le progrès sur la procédure judiciaire…

L’Union Africain exhorte le progrès sur la procédure judiciaire de Darfur, Menacé de sanctionner.

Le Conseil de Paix et de Sécurité de l’Union Africaine(CPS) a exhorté les médiateurs en ce qui concerne le progrès de la résolution de conflit du Dafur au cours des trois mois à venir et a menacé de sanctionner ceux qui continuent d’entraver les efforts en cours pour une paix durable.

Dans la réunion tenue le 20 Février 2018, le CPS disait qu’il s’est souci par le processus de paix en Dafure « inutilement prolongé » et demandé pour un règlement rapide du conflit qui a duré pour 15 ans.

Le conseil a également soulignée « le manque de l’engagement de la part des mouvements d’armés non-signataires du Dafur » et les a exhorté d’engager des discussions avec le gouvernement sur la base du Document de Doha pour la paix en Dafur(DDPD)

Suivant les instructions de la réunion, le Groupe de Mise en Œuvre de Haut Niveau de l’Union Africaine(GMHUA) et la mission hybride de maintien de la paix connu sous le nom de UNAMID pour « continuer dans leur engagement avec les parties qui sont liée au conflit » et mettre en courant à ses membres des progrès accomplis.

Sur la base des résultantes des efforts de la médiation, la Commission de l’UA devrait élaborer des mesures possibles en Mai 2018 y compris des sanctions possibles contre tous ceux qui continuent d’entraver les efforts en faveur de paix et de la sécurité durables en Dafur. Cité d’une déclaration publie en Lundi, le 27 Février.

Les groupes de résistance y compris le Mouvement pour la Justice et l’Egalité(MJE), le Mouvement de Libération du Soudan-Minn Minnawi (MLS-MM) ont refusé de signer le DDPD en Juillet 2011 et ont demandé à l’ouverture d’un accord.

D’autres groupes comme le Mouvement du Soudan-Abdel Wahid(MLS-AW) ont rejeté ses conclusions.

Le Panel de médiation de l’Union Africaine(GMHUA) dirigé par l’ancien président de l’Afrique du Sud, Thabo Mbeki  a proposé un processus holistique pour mettre fin aux conflits armées et produire des reformes politiques au Soudan.

Faisant allusion aux rapports internationaux sur l’utilisation des groupes du Dafur dans les conflits armés dans la région, le conseil a souligné « la nécessité d’un respect scrupuleux des principes de bon voisinage pour soutenir les efforts visant à créer un environnement favorable pour le paix et stabilité durables en Dafur.

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African Union Urges Progress on Darfur Process, Threatens Sanctions

Gibril Ibrahim and Minni Minnawi at the opening session of Darfur track 23 Nov 2014 (ST Photo)
  The African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) urged mediators to make progress in the resolution of Darfur conflict during the upcoming three months and threatened to sanction those who continue to hinder the ongoing efforts for a lasting peace.

In a meeting held on 20 February 2018, the PSC said concerned by the “unnecessarily prolonged” process for peace in Darfur and called for a rapid resolution of the 15-year conflict.

The Council further pointed to “the lack of commitment on the part of the non-signatory Darfur armed movements” and urged them to engage discussions with the government on the basis of the Doha Document for peace in Darfur (DDPD).

Following what the meeting directed the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the hybrid peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID to “continue with their engagement with the parties to the conflict” and update its members on the progress made on the peace process.

Based on the outcome of the mediation’s efforts ” the AU Commission should, by May 2018, elaborate possible measures, including possible sanctions, which could be applied against all those who continue to obstruct efforts towards lasting peace and security in Darfur,” said a statement released on Monday 27 February.

The holdout groups including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Sudan Liberation Movement – Minn Minnawi (SLM-MM) refused to sign the DDPD in July 2011 and called to open the framework agreement for talks.

Other groups like the Sudan Liberation Movement – Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) had declined to join the process and rejected its outcome.

The African Union mediation panel (AUHIP) led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki proposed a holistic process to end the armed conflicts and produce political reforms in Sudan

 

Alluding to international reports about the use of Darfur groups in the armed conflicts in the region, the Council stressed “the need for scrupulous respect for principles of good neighbourhood in support to efforts aimed at creating a conducive environment for lasting peace and stability in Darfur”.

 

SOURCE: http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64828