NCICC Blog

2018 NGO-ICC ROUND-TABLE HIGHLIGHT

The 2018 NGO-ICC roundtable held on the 14th of May  and lasted to the 19th at the Hague, Netherlands. members of several civil society organizations attended and deliberated on the way forward for the International Criminal Court after 20 years.

Peter Lewis the registrar of the court opened the round-table by reiterating the importance of the Rome Statute and the great spirit that saw to the establishment of the Court. Speaking on the role of  civil society organizations, he   stated that they play a crucial role  in supporting the court system and encouraged them not to relent as they are the conscience of the court and have continued to remind the court of its mission.

The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda  in her speech, stated that we must invigorate a firm commitment to stand by the values of the court and continue to  march forward in the fight against impunity for the worlds gravest crimes, she affirmed that international criminal justice is on the march and civil society organizations  should continue to support the court to enhance and empower its ability to demonstrate the full potential of the Rome Statute

On his part the president of the court Chile Osuji  stated that they is  rallying call for the world to amplify  its involvement in protecting and refreshing interest in the importance of the Rome Statute and call on everyone to do so as it is more urgent than ever..

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Witness Tampering: Prosecutor Proposes Maximum Sentence for Bemba and…

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has proposed a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment for Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba and his two former lawyers, who are due to receive fresh sentences for witness tampering. The prosecutor says she does not oppose the imposition of a monetary fine on the trio, who have up to the end of this month to make their own sentencing submissions.

Bemba and his former lawyers, Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, will receive new sentences following the March 2018 reversal of their earlier sentences by an Appeals Chamber at the ICC.

In the initial sentencing in March 2017, Bemba was handed a one-year prison term and a fine of €300,000; Kilolo received a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence plus a fine of €30,000; while Mangenda was sentenced to 11 months in jail, suspended for two years.

However, the Appeals Chamber found that the trial chamber committed errors in assigning lower sentences to accessories to a crime rather than to co-perpetrators in suspending the sentences for Kilolo and Mangenda, and in assigning less gravity to false testimony on “non-merit” issues relative to false testimony on “merit” issues of a case.

Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber overturned Bemba and his lawyers’ conviction over presentation of false oral testimony but confirmed all the other convictions of giving false testimony and corruptly influencing witnesses.

In the April 30, 2018 sentencing submissions, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that, in deciding on the new sentences, the trial chamber should increase the individual and joint sentences for each of the three convicted persons to a five-year term of imprisonment.

Bensouda contends that the false testimony given by witnesses on “non-merits” issues was grave because the information was crucial for the judges in Bemba’s main trial to determine the credibility of witnesses and the reliability of their evidence.

The prosecutor argues that Bemba and Kilolo deserve a sentence that is commensurate with their criminal responsibility for having contributed to the false testimony of 14 of the 34 witnesses that testified for Bemba in his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. She says Mangenda’s sentence should likewise reflect the true extent of his assistance to the false testimony of nine witnesses.

Article 70 of the Rome Statute on administration of justice, under which Bemba and his associates were convicted, provides that in the event of a conviction, judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine, or both.

In the sentencing submissions, the prosecutor “welcomes” the imposition of a fine in addition to the five-year prison sentences. However, she notes that because the convicted persons’ financial situations are unclear, the trial chamber should determine whether such an additional fine should be imposed.

In addition, the prosecutor asks judges to order Kilolo and Mangenda back into custody to serve the new sentences imposed. The two were released from ICC detention in October 2014, having spent eleven months in pre-trial detention.

SOURCE:  International Justice  Monitor https://www.ijmonitor.org/2018/05/witness-tampering-prosecutor-proposes-maximum-sentence-for-bemba-and-his-former-lawyers/

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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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Sudanese Security Files Criminal Charges Against Al-Mahdi

April 3, 2018 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s state security prosecutor office Tuesday has filed charges, some of which are punishable by death, against the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) Sadiq al-Mahdi, accusing him of plotting with armed groups to overthrow the regime of President Omer al-Bashir.

Last month, the opposition umbrella Sudan Call, which encompasses political and armed groups, held a meeting in Paris and chose AL-Mahdi as its leader.

On Monday, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir threatened to take decisive actions against political parties allied with the rebel groups, saying he would never allow combining the armed action against the state and the political action under any title.

The semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) on Tuesday said the state security prosecution has filed criminal charges against AL-Mahdi for dealing and coordinating with the armed movements that seek to topple the regime.

“This comes after the National Intelligence and Security Services filed a petition at the state security prosecution against Sadiq AL-Mahdi and others,” said the SMC

The state security chief prosecutor Muatasim Abdallah directed to file criminal charges under articles 21,25,26,50,51,53,63 and 66 of the 1991 Criminal Code as well as articles 5 and 6 of the Counter-Terrorism Act.

According to the prosecutor, the criminal charges “were filed against the backdrop that AL-Mahdi in his capacity as the chairman of the NUP signed with the Sudan Revolutionary Front and the armed movements a declaration of principles and issued a final communique stating joint coordination to overthrow the regime by force of arms beside inciting the residents through the social media to rebel against the state and to wreak havoc”.

It is noteworthy that the Paris meeting of the Sudan Call has approved a constitutional declaration and a final communiqué calling to adopt peaceful political means to achieve change through peaceful popular uprising or dialogue.

Al-Mahdi since last February is residing outside Sudan. He is expected to remain in Cairo where he is until a meeting with the African Union mediators to discuss the future of the negotiations with the opposition umbrella.

The Sudan Call, which was established in Addis Ababa on 3 December 2014, includes the NUP, the rebel umbrella SRF, and the Civil Society Initiative (CSI).

Sudan Call internal groups include the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP), Sudanese Baath Party (SBP), Center Alliance Party (CAP), Sudanese National Party (SNP) and Sudanese National Alliance (SNA).

SOURCE: Sudan Tribune  http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article65090

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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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Suspected Boko Haram Militants kill At least 15 in…

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria April 2 – A Boko Haram attack in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri killed at least 15 people and wounded 83, a military spokesman said on Monday, in the biggest strike since the government said it was in talks with the Islamist militant group.

The military said the incident occurred late on Sunday and included gun battles between government troops and the militants as they tried to enter Maiduguri, a city in northeast Nigeria which is the epicentre of a nine-year conflict with Boko Harm that has caused the deaths of more than 20,000 people.

President Muhammadu Buhari has prioritised improving security and has previously declared the defeat of Boko Haram, which is trying to establish an Islamic state and which split into two factions in 2016.

The military said troops clashed with the jihadists in a cashew plantation around Bille Shuwa and Alikaranti villages, near Giwa barracks on the edge of Maiduguri’s inner city, at around 08:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) on Sunday and fought gun battles with government troops during which multiple blasts were heard.

“Fifteen persons including a soldier have so far been confirmed dead in the encounter, while about 83 persons who suffered varying degrees of injuries are receiving due medical attention,” said army spokesman Colonel Onyema Nwachukwu.

He said 13 insurgents had been killed, including seven bombers, adding that the retreating militants attacked locals.

“It is clear that the remnants of the Boko Haram terrorists are hell-bent on remaining relevant by attacking soft and vulnerable targets,” Nwachukwu added.

TALKS

It is the most significant attack on the city since the government said last week it was in talks with the insurgents with the aim of securing a permanent ceasefire.

The government has not disclosed which elements of Boko Haram it is in discussions with and it was also not clear which faction carried out Sunday’s attack.

The government has been saying since December 2015 that the jihadist group has been defeated but high-profile attacks in the last few months – including the kidnap of 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi and a strike in the town of Rann that killed three aid workers – has shown the jihadists remain active.

All but one of the girls taken from Dapchi, in Yobe state, on Feb. 19 were returned by the militants in March. The government later said it had negotiated their release as part of broader talks.

In early 2015 Boko Haram controlled a swathe of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium but was forced out of most of that territory by the army with the support of troops from neighbouring countries.

Since then the group has continued to carry out suicide bombings, gun raids and kidnappings in northeastern Nigeria as well as in neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

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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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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.

SOURCE: MSN Newshttps://www.msn.com/en-za/news/africa/boko-haram-suspects-go-on-public-trial-in-niger/ar-BBIAZex

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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

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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