News

ICC Sentences Former DRC VP Bemba for Witness Tampering

The International Criminal Court on Monday fined Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba 300 000 euros ($350,730) and sentenced him to 12 months for witness tampering, but his jail term was reduced to zero due to time already served.

Bemba was acquitted of war crimes on appeal in June but had already been convicted on the lesser charge of witness tampering during his trial.

Bemba has been barred from standing in December’s presidential election in Democratic Republic of Congo, in which he would have been one of the front runners challenging the ruling coalition, because of the conviction.

“Future accused persons can look at Mr Bemba’s conviction as a cautionary example as to what consequences obstructing the administration of justice can have,” Judge Bertram Schmitt said.

“Mr Bemba’s acquittal in the main case should have been the end of his exposure to the court, yet he continues to have the specter of this institution hanging over him.”

A senior figure in Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) party, told Reuters the MLC was in the process of analyzing the implications of the decision.

“But what is positive in this ruling is that MLC president, senator Jean Pierre Bemba moves from the status of being provisionally freed to become 100 percent free in terms of movement, action and expression,” the party’s deputy secretary-general Fidele Babala said.

Bemba’s surprise acquittal on war crimes charges in June raised the prospect he could return to Congo and re-enter politics. A final decision on whether the witness tampering conviction makes him ineligible to stand is expected on Wednesday in Congo.

Bemba headed the MLC and its affiliated militia. After he lost an election to Laurent Kabila in 2006 he was sent to The Hague to stand trial for atrocities committed by his troops in neighboring Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

His initial conviction was reversed on appeal in June, with judges saying prosecutors had failed to show he had enough control over troops to bear responsibility for their wrongdoing and he could not be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bemba, who has family in both Belgium and Congo, did not attend Monday.

 

SOURCE:  https://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/icc-sentences-former-drc-vp-bemba-for-witness-tampering-17125047

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SENSITIZATION PROGRAMME ON THE ROME STATUTE AND ITS RELEVANCE…

On the 19th of July 2018, the NCICC carried out a sensitization programme at the university of Lagos Nigeria to educate the Law and Humanities students on the relevance of the International Criminal Court  to Nigerian Criminal Justice System.

The students were lectured about the origin of the court, crimes and jurisdiction of the  court and the need for the domestic implementation of the Rome Statute Bill into Nigerian  local legislation.

The student numbering about 200 were elated to be part of the programme and asked meaningful questions regarding  the delay in the domestication of the bill and how they can play a part in the fight against impunity in the country.

 

NCICC staff welcomed questions and issued the NCICC tool kit on how to be involved in the fight against impunity using the mercenary of the International Criminal Court.

 

The dean of law faculty professor Atsenua and the public law lecture Dr Karibi Whyte was also present during the programme and showed appreciation to the NCICC for taking their time to educate the students on such an important topic.

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REPORT OF THE PUBLIC HEARING ON THE BILL FOR…

18 July, 2018.

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

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

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

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

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

Prof. Madaiki also noted that;

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

News

House Committee in Partnership with NCICC Hold Public Hearing…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nigeria’s House of Representatives’ Committee on Treaties, Protocols, and Agreement on Wednesday in Abuja began a public hearing on a “bill for an act to provide for enforcement and punishment of crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and for other related offences”.

Press Releases

NCICC CELEBRATES THE ROME STATUTE @20

 

 

Released Date 16th July, 2018

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) joins the rest of the world in the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute.

 

The Rome Statute which is the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court vested the court with power to exercise jurisdiction over international crimes to wit genocides, crimes against humanity, war crime and crime of aggression. The International Criminal Court has so far recorded 26cases, issued 32 arrest warrants and made verdict in 6cases with 8conviction and 2 acquittals, the most recent being that of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo.

 

The NCICC emphasize that in the rise of global violations of humanitarian laws and human right, there is no better time to support the International Criminal Court (ICC) than now. To ensure a more just world, it is important for states to foster cooperation with the ICC by domesticating and implementing the Rome Statute’s provision of complementarity in their national legislation and prosecute international crimes committed within their territory.

 

Despite Nigeria being listed as a preliminary examination country due to the armed conflict between Boko Haram and Nigerian Securities and different crimes committed in the Niger Delta region, the country continues to face more violations of human right and crimes violating international law. It is imperative at this time for Nigerian government to stand up for justice, domesticate the Rome Statute and prosecute these gross and frequent violations.

As President Buhari attends the event of the Rome Statute at 20, we urge the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda to engage the president on the continued killing in the North Central and North East region and the non-accountability on the part of the state security.

 

Nigeria though a state party of the International Criminal Court has since the submission of  its instrument of ratification on the 27th September 2001 fail to domesticate the Rome Statute into its national legislation in accordance with the provision of section 12 of the 1999 Constitution.

 

The NCICC calls on the Nigerian government to join in the fight against impunity and domesticate the Rome Statute and further reiterates the need for the National Assembly to expedite the domestication of the Rome Statute bill which comes up for public hearing on the 18th of July 2018.

 

Signed

 

Edmund Chinonye Obiagwu

Chair, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court                                                                                

 

Dr Abiola Akiode -Afolabi

Vice Chair, Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court

 

 

NCICC Blog

Nigeria: Herdsmen Attack 11 Plateau Villages, kill More Than…

Plateau State was on Sunday thrown into mourning with the killing of 86 persons in the attacks on about 11 communities in the Gashish District by suspected Fulani herdsmen.

The Police Command in Plateau State had earlier on Sunday confirmed the attacks, saying it had only recovered 11 corpses from some of the villages. But residents had insisted that about 200 people were killed by the marauding herdsmen.

However, the police later issued a statement that indicated that the death toll in the attack on the communities in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area on Saturday night had risen to 86. It added that six people were injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles razed while two motor vehicles were torched.

The spokesperson for the Plateau State Police Command, Matthias Tyopev, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, in an updated statement issued on Sunday night, said the earlier 11 death toll in the attacks was due to the information at its disposal as of then before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA.

Tyopev had identified the 11 corpses as Dalyop Vanode, Dom Danladi, Bururu Wade, Joju Rala,Titus Danladi, Bitrus Malat, Alu Matir, Noron Monday, Cecilia Yohana, Dam Bulus and Ladi Danladi.

He said, “Sequel to the attack in the Gashish District of Barkin Ladi LGA yesterday (Saturday) June 23, 2018, the Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Jos, Undie Adie, after deploying more personnel in the district sent a search and rescue team from the Command headquarters today (Sunday) for an on-the-spot assessment.

“The team headed by ACP Edeh John of the Department of Operations had also the DPO of the Barkin Ladi Division and a Unit Commander from Mopol 38. After a careful search of the villages attacked in the District,  the following were discovered: 86 persons altogether were killed, six people injured, 50 houses burnt, 15 motorcycles and two motor vehicles also burnt.

“The team also carried out a detailed deployment. Corpses were released to the families for burial. The command earlier in the day confirmed only 11 people dead as the result of the attacks due to the information at its disposal before the arrival of the search and rescue team from the Barkin Ladi LGA. This is to update members of the public of the situation as regards the attacks in the Gashish District as promised earlier on.”

Also, there were fears that some soldiers were missing during the attack but the Commander of the Special Military Task Force codenamed Operation Safe Haven, Maj. Gen. Anthony Atolagbe, dismissed the report. He said, “it’s not true, no soldier died and no soldier is missing.”

 

SOURCE:  Punch. https://punchng.com/herdsmen-attack-11-plateau-villages-kill-86-torch-50-houses/

News

Phillipine Supreme Court Orders Government to Answer Petition On…

The Supreme Court todaay ordered the government to answer a petition filed by minority senators challenging the country’s withdrawal of its ratification of the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court.

The executive branch has 10 days to file its comment on the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by minority senators led by Sen. Francis Pangilinan. An oral argument of the case is also set on July 24 at 2 p.m.

The SC en banc acted on the petition for certiorari and mandamus filed by opposition senators that challenged the country’s withdrawal from its ICC membership due to lack of necessary concurrence from the Senate.

In the 17-page petition filed last month, they cited Article VII Section 21 of the 1987 Constitution which states that “entering into treaty or international agreement requires participation of Congress, that is, through concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate.”

The petitioners said that the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs committed grave abuse of discretion when it decided to withdraw the Philippines’ membership from the ICC without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate.

Named as respondents in the petition are Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo.

The Philippines announced it would be withdrawing from the ICC last March, a month after the international tribunal opened a preliminary examination into the alleged crimes against humanity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.

An examination is not an investigation, a point that the Palace stressed before finally announcing the withdrawal.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, for his part, said that the petition would not gain ground. “I do not think there is any legal basis. The president remains the chief architect of foreign policy and this is not a matter that can be cured by certiorari,” Roque added.

SOURCE:

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/06/1822082/sc-orders-government-answer-petition-vs-icc-withdrawal

News

War Crimes Court due to start Probes in Central…

A special criminal court to try the worst crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) is due to start its formal investigations next week, the United Nations’ deputy representative in the country said on Monday.

A UN report published last year said a litany of killings, rapes, mutilation, looting and torture committed by successive governments and armed groups in the Central African Republic from 2003 to 2015 may constitute crimes against humanity.

Deadly clashes are back on the rise, state control is breaking down and inter-faith violence threatens to flare again. At least 26 people died in an attack by unidentified armed assailants on a church in the capital Bangui earlier this month.

“For us to stop this… horrible cycle (of revenge), the only way is to create a judiciary system that is credible, that is legitimate and that works, hence the special criminal court,” Najat Rochdi, UN humanitarian coordinator in the Central African Republic and deputy special representative, told a news briefing in Geneva.

“The good news is that the special criminal court is going to be operational next week,” she said, adding that if it did not succeed, some people may return to seeking revenge.

The tribunal, which will be based in the CAR and composed of both national and international judges, will prosecute alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Some 2,000 U.N. police are helping national authorities to arrest high-profile suspects, Rochdi said, adding: “Arrests are happening.” She gave no details of the arrests.

The United Nations is also supporting the CAR government in “developing a legitimate and credible and not corrupted regular judiciary system,” she added.

Repeated political crises in CAR have fueled conflict since 2003. Major violence erupted in 2013 when a mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from Christian “anti-balaka” militias.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in CAR since 2012.

The new court was agreed to in 2015, but it has taken time to finalize victim and witness protection, rules of procedure, and the swearing in of judicial police, Rochdi said.

Violence by armed groups is often aimed at wringing concessions from the government, including an amnesty, which Rochdi said would be a “disaster for the country.”

“The situation has worsened, one has to acknowledge it,” she said, citing an upsurge in violence in Bangui and elsewhere.

SOURCE: https://www.devdiscourse.com/Article/9462-war-crimes-court-due-to-start-probes-in-central-africa-says-un

News

AU urges External Actors to Refrain from action that…

The chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, expressed concern on Sunday over increasing instances of external interference by non-African actors in Somalia’s internal affairs.

This threatens to disrupt the peace-building and state-building efforts currently underway in Somalia, Faki said during his meeting at the AU headquarters in the Ethiopian capital with Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire of Somalia, according to an AU statement.

The interference also risks reversing the hard-won gains made through joint efforts of the AU mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali security forces, he said, urging all concerned external actors to refrain from any action that may undermine Somalia’s progress.

The two leaders discussed the progress made so far by the Somali federal government in implementing a reform agenda in the political, economic and security spheres, the statement said.

The chairperson of the AU Commission commended the Somali government for its efforts to establish cohesive and inclusive politics, deepen federalism, resolve the conflicts affecting the country and advance peace-building and reconciliation.

Faki called on all Somali stakeholders to spare no efforts in ensuring a successful implementation of the agreed political roadmap.

Noting the economic reforms undertaken by Somalia, the AUC chairperson urged Mogadishu to continue with the efforts underway to rejoin the international financial institutions and set the country on the pathway to debt relief.

Khaire, for his part, paid tribute to the bravery of AMISOM forces, and expressed gratitude to the troop and police contributing countries for their efforts and sacrifices in the pursuit of peace and security for Somalia, the AU statement said.

Their commitment has been essential to Somalia’s progress, and AMISOM’s presence remains critical as the country moves in earnest toward full ownership of security responsibility over Somalia, Khaire said.

SOURCE: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-05/28/c_137210660.htm

NCICC Blog

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/