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.




Boko Haram Suspects Go on Public Trial in Niger

Eighty-one people accused of fighting for Boko Haram went on trial in Niger on Thursday in a public court sitting, one of the first of its kind after closed-door trials of suspected insurgents were criticised by human rights groups.

Those on trial in a special international court in the capital Niamey come from Niger, Nigeria and Chad and are suspected of playing a role in Boko Haram’s near decade-long bid to create a caliphate in Nigeria.

The Islamist insurgency has spread beyond its roots in Nigeria, killing 20,000 and uprooting nearly 3 million in the Lake Chad region.

The Niamey trials follow closed-door Boko Haram trials, including in Nigeria where a court in October jailed 45 people to between three and 31 years in jail, but the government did not say what they were convicted of.

Open trials are meant to show that suspected fighters will be given due process, and could also help alleviate a conflict that has been stoked at times by the mistreatment of captives.

The death in 2009 of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf in police custody is seen as one of the major triggers for the conflict.

The Niamey court will hear 22 separate cases over the next 10 days, following the trial of nearly 300 people on similar charges last year. In all, nearly 1,000 people are expected to come before the court.



NCICC Pays Tribute to Steering Committee Member, Oby Nwankwo

The world human rights community have lost the amazon herself, Oby Nwankwo. This is an unbelievable loss of a pillar of human rights promotion and equal opportunities advocacy in Nigeria and across the world. A member of UN CEDAW and highly respected activist. We cannot mourn you enough. Your legacy and pioneering work at NCICC, CIRRDOC, Coalition on Affirmative Action, Gender and Equal Opportunities Bill which you personally initiated and drove, UN Women, Coalition for Int’l Criminal Court, Nigeria Community Paralegal initiative and the many more lives that you touched, people you built and mentored etc.

You are an angel going home so soon, but rest in the bossom of the Lord, whom you diligently served when you were here.

Adieu Oby.

-Chairman, NCICC


Harry Roque Faces ICC, Defends Duterte government

The human rights issue is being politicized and there is no reason for the International Criminal Court to take jurisdiction over any complaint on alleged human rights violations related to President Duterte’s war on drugs, his spokesman has told the ICC.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque appealed to the ICC to adhere to its own rules and focus on the trial of leaders accused of human rights violations.

Instead of addressing human rights concerns raised against Duterte, Roque warned the ICC against being misled by critics who wanted the President charged before the international tribunal.

“Mr. President, we urge the Court to resist attempts by some sectors to treat the Court as a venue to pursue political agenda to destabilize governments and undermine legitimate national authorities,” Roque said during the general debate of the 16th Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC held at the UN last Thursday.

“It is indeed actions like these that politicize and dilute the Court’s mandate, which ultimately undermine national efforts to punish and prosecute crimes covered by the Statute and derail current efforts to achieve universality of the Rome Statute,” Roque said.

“We trust that the Court’s exercise of its mandate will respect national processes geared towards exacting criminal accountability for conduct committed within our territory,” he said.

he group Human Rights Watch said the Duterte administration has made no genuine effort to seek accountability for drug war abuses.

Param-Preet Singh of Human Rights Watch said there have been no successful prosecutions or convictions of police implicated in summary killings despite compelling evidence.

Withdraw from ICC

Roque insinuated a possible withdrawal of the Philippines from the ICC and the Rome Statute.

“A violation of the very basis for our consent – which is complementarity – will constrain us to reassess our continuing commitment to the Court and the Rome Statute,” he said.

Roque earlier talked about the Philippines’ anchored consent to be bound by the Rome Statute on the principle of complementarity.

He cited the significance of complementarity and of collective efforts to develop an effective and fair international criminal system.

The Philippine government made the stand months after self-confessed hit man Edgar Matobato accused Duterte of being involved in extrajudicial killings when he was still mayor of Davao City.

Duterte is also facing global criticism over the thousands killed in his flagship campaign against illegal drugs.

Roque said the Philippines echoes the ICC’s shared sovereign goals of peace and security, and the importance of criminal accountability for the serious crimes of concern to the international community.

“It recognizes that effective prosecution must be ensured at the national level and enhanced by international cooperation,” Roque said.

Roque pointed out the ICC is envisioned to have complementary, not primary, jurisdiction for the prosecution of persons most responsible for the four international crimes under the Rome Statute.

“The Rome Statute requires the Court and other bodies to respect and defer to the primary criminal jurisdiction of such State Party, unless it can be shown that the state party is unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute such crimes,” he said.

Roque said the Philippines supports the activation of the ICC’s jurisdiction over the crime of aggression as another step toward the fulfillment of the promise, not only of the Rome Statute, but also of the UN Charter on the prohibition on the use of force.

“This position is consistent with the policy expressly provide in Article II of our Constitution that the Philippines renounces war as an instrument of national policy,” he said.

In his three-page statement, Roque also said the Philippine government affirms its commitment to the Rome Statute and the ICC. “We are also reminded that the Court is a court of last resort,” he said.

Duterte, who has been criticized for numerous deaths related to the administration’s drug campaign, had repeatedly defended his acts by invoking the need to implement the rule of law and “preserve the youth of this country.”

The Senate and the House of Representatives have respectively conducted their independent probes but there are no findings yet on the use of force or violence or any state-sponsored killings.

There were also attempts to file charges against the President before the Office of the Ombudsman.

Roque also used the Marawi siege to remind the ICC about the “intimate and indisputable link between terrorism and the illegal drug trade.”

“The primary objective of the Rome Statute to complement national efforts in criminal justice and social reconciliation must not be minimized or set aside,” Roque said.

Human Rights Watch agreed with Roque that under the ICC’s statute, the court may only step in when national authorities are unable or unwilling to do so.

“Yet his (Roque) assertion that the Philippine government has been willing and able to investigate those deaths has simply not been true,” Singh said.

Singh said the government’s claims of its preparedness to prosecute offenders are grotesquely deceptive in the face of this grim reality



Afghanistan: ICC Prosecutor Requests Judicial Authorisation to Open Investigation…

Would justice prevail or will the Hague be invaded?

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has decided to request judicial authorisation to open an investigation into crimes that have been committed during the armed conflict in Afghanistan

Source: dailytimes



ICJ: Nigeria pledges commitment, accepts ruling

International Court of Justice - ICJ

Nigeria on Thursday pledged its continued commitment to supporting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as demonstrated by acceptance of the court’s ruling on the border dispute between Nigeria and Cameroon.

Nigeria’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Samson Itegboje, made this known while delivering the country’s statement on “The Report of the International Court of Justice” in New York.

Itegboje said: “Nigeria will continue to abide by her commitment to the promotion of international justice and the peaceful settlement of disputes, as a State Party to the Statute of the ICJ.

“By accepting the Court’s ruling on our border dispute with Cameroon, we have demonstrated our conviction and commitment to the precepts and principles of the Court.

“We encourage all member states to continue to offer their support to the activities of the court in its efforts to promote international justice and the rule of law,” he said.

According to him, the ICJ is an important part of the United Nation’s mechanisms for the promotion of the rule of law and the maintenance of international peace and security through the administration of international justice.

“To be sure, the court has made tremendous contributions to the promotion of and respect for the rule of law at the international level,” he said.

The Nigerian envoy said that over the years, the court has continued to play a vital role in the maintenance of international peace and security through its rulings and judicial notices.

“It has also contributed remarkably to the corpus of international jurisprudence,” he said.


Central African Republic: Conditions in Central African Republic Continue…

The United Nations reports conditions in Central African Republic have continued to deteriorate since a serious outbreak of inter-communal violence in mid-May between the Muslim Seleka and largely Christian anti-Balaka armed groups.

Fighting in some parts of Central African Republic has become so intense that United Nations and private aid agencies have had to suspend their activities. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the C.A.R., Najat Rochdi, says security has become so bad in the East, agencies have had to change their mode of operations.

“We cannot do it anymore business as usual having bases, you know, here and there, but rather strengthening some hubs actually, around a number of cities where the security is much more important and from there fly in special emergency teams, a kind of surge teams,” she said.

Since January, the United Nations reports a 50 percent increase in the number of internally displaced people to 600,000. Refugee numbers also have increased to nearly one-half million.

Rochdi says humanitarian operations in the country are suffering from severe under-funding. She says only 39 percent of the nearly $500 million appeal for this year has been received. Because of the lack of funding, she says food rations have been cut in half.

“And that there are places where actually we have stopped the food distribution. We already had very serious worsening of the malnutrition situation. For example, unfortunately, in the southeast, we started already seeing children dying from severe malnutrition,” said Rochdi.

Humanitarian coordinator Rochdi says there are unconfirmed reports that 10 children have died from malnutrition-related causes in the town of Zemio in southeastern C.A.R. She says shelter and protection concerns also are growing.

Another cause for alarm is education. She says 400,000 children are not going to school. She warns nearly a whole generation of children who have lost out on education may not have a viable future. And this, she says, will spell disaster for the whole country.

Source: All African News


Gambia: Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and Accomplices to…

Survivors of human rights violations under the Jammeh regime and international human rights lawyers and advocates, have created the ‘Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and accomplices to Justice.

The Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations, the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, Article 19 West Africa, Coalition for Change, The Gambia, TANGO, EG (Equatorial Guinea) Justice, Trial International (Switzerland), Human Rights Watch, Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, Aid-Free World and La Fondation pour l’egalite chances en Afrique, were present at the launching ceremony held at a hotel in Kololi on Saturday, 21st October 2017.

The joint communiqué was read by Fatoumatta Sandeng, daughter of the late Ebrima Solo Sandeng who said the victims of human rights violations during the Jammeh regime and human rights lawyers and advocates, met on October 19th and 20th 2017, in Banjul, to deliberate on strategies to hold ex-president Yahya Jammeh and his accomplices accountable for alleged crimes including disappearances, torture, kidnapping, sexual violence and murder, during his regime. She added that they have decided to create the “Campaign to Bring Yahya Jammeh and his Accomplices to Justice”; that they are all committed to attain their ultimate goal, which is to ensure that Yahya Jammeh, as well as those who bear the greatest responsibility in the crimes of his twenty two year old regime, are brought to trial with all due process guaranteed; that they are aware that before Yahya Jammeh could get a fair trial in the Gambia, the rule of law, political, security and institutional concerns must first be addressed.

She called upon Government to exert diplomatic and political leverage to ensure that Yahya Jammeh faces justice with all due process guaranteed. She further called on the Government of Equatorial Guinea to allow Yahya Jammeh to face justice with all due process guaranteed. In addition, she called on ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and all friends of the Gambia, to support the aspirations of the survivors of abuses by the former Jammeh Government.


Rights of 12 Million Displaced people in Africa Ignored:…

The rights of Africa’s 12 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are often ignored and their demands are left unmet, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said in a new report released Wednesday.

Maurer presented the report to the African Union Peace and Security Council, which focused on the implementation of the Kampala treaty – an African Union treaty signed in 2009 to protect the IDPs and provide them access to humanitarian services.
He noted that armed conflict had been one of the major causes of internal displacement in Africa.
“These challenges arise with respect to IDPs’ movements both en route to the place of displacement and at the place of displacement – [particularly during movements in and out of IDP camps] – as well as in the screening of IDPs,” the report said, without listing any specific countries.
“The rights of the IDPs are not always fully understood or respected in practice, with the result that consideration of these rights, when faced with security concerns, may be less rigorous than is required.
“One very real and practical challenge during armed conflict is that of maintaining the strictly civilian and humanitarian character of IDP camps and other settings,” it said, noting the permanent presence of armed forces inside such camps.
Speaking at a news conference after meeting the AU Security Council, Maurer said: “Often states lack legal and policy frameworks to respond to the needs of IDPs.”
The ICRC chief, who visited Nigeria and Niger, added: “Authorities should consult and actively engage with IDPs and host communities to ensure their participation in decision-making. All ages, genders, religious and ethnic groups should be included.”
He gave the example of Mali where, he said, authorities had organised mobile schools to allow internally displaced youth to continue their education; Ethiopian authorities too “have allowed IDP children without identity documents to attend school, avoiding a disruption to their education.”

Source News Express


Boko Haram: Nigeria, Turkey in partnership to deal with…

President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterpart from Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed partnership in the area of defence and security.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting the meeting, Buhari said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ that the defence ministers of both countries held extensive discussions on developing new strategies for counter-terrorism.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his counterpart from Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed partnership in the area of defence and security.

Speaking at a joint press conference after the meeting the meeting, Buhari said he was ‘‘very pleased’’ that the defence ministers of both countries held extensive discussions on developing new strategies for counter-terrorism.

A statement sent to DAILY POST by Buhari’s Senior Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu quoted the president as saying the two leaders also discussed the prospects of increasing their bilateral trade, which has exceeded 779 million USD in the first eight months of 2017.

According to Buhari, ‘‘We are very pleased with the progress of the meeting so far and we are going to wait for the details of meetings between the two countries.

‘‘We will as a result of the meeting between the ministers and officials of both countries strengthen rapidly whatever their recommendations are.’’

Commenting on the degradation of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Buhari said the improved security situation in the North East was an eloquent testimony to the efforts of his administration in combating terrorism since he came into office in May 2015