Archive for category Transitional Justice & International Criminal Law

The Economist on Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War

The Economist has published about two weeks ago a very interesting piece on the use of rape as a weapon of war, in the past and present. It’s worthwhile reading for anyone interested. Here’s an excerpt:

Rape in war is as old as war itself. After the sack of Rome 16 centuries ago Saint Augustine called rape in wartime an “ancient and customary evil”. For soldiers, it has long been considered one of the spoils of war. Antony Beevor, a historian who has written about rape during the Soviet conquest of Germany in 1945, says that rape has occurred in war since ancient times, often perpetrated by indisciplined soldiers. But he argues that there are also examples in history of rape being used strategically, to humiliate and to terrorise, such as the Moroccan regulares in Spain’s civil war.

As the reporting of rape has improved, the scale of the crime has become more horrifyingly apparent (see table). And with the Bosnian war of the 1990s came the widespread recognition that rape has been used systematically as a weapon of war and that it must be punished as an egregious crime.

H/T Laura Seay (Texas in Africa).

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In Case You Missed It – Callixte Mbarushimana Transferred to The Hague

Callixte Mbarushimana, the FDLR leader wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes allegedly committed in the Kivus in 2009, was transferred by the French authorities to The Hague yesterday.

See the Jurist report here.

Callixte Mbarushimana is the fifth person to be arrested following the issuance of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court.

His initial appearance before the Court should take place on Friday at 9.30 CET. See the ICC press release here.

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An International (Anti-)Corruption Court?

A letter to the International Herald Tribune (published on the New York Times website) has caught my attention. The author writes:

History shows that one corrupt regime is usually followed by another. This is so because corrupt countries are often given no chance to build up bureaucracies that can contain corruption. Hence, revolutions tend to be power struggles in which competing elites seek advantage, even though their motives might have been pure at the start.

A country like Tunisia would greatly benefit if there were an international tool that could fight corruption from outside a country. The world needs an international tribunal, like the International Criminal Court, that could make significant corruption an international crime, subject to prosecution.

After considering amendments to add to the Rome Statute the Crime of Terrorism and the Crime of Drug Trafficking, shall we imagine a “Crime of Corruption”?

The idea is amusing, but even for a partisan of international justice such as myself, I have to admit that I am more than skeptical and reluctant. As much as corruption can indeed gangrene a country and cause immeasurable harm to the population, I have a hard time imagining an international tribunal dealing with this, unless corruption has reached such heights that it amounts to crimes against humanity.

The struggle against corruption is best left to inter-state cooperation through organizations such as Interpol.

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International Justice in Haiti and Tunisia?

Former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - image courtesy of France 24

Should two former dictators, the Tunisian Ben Ali and the Haitian “Baby Doc” Duvalier, face trial in front of an international tribunal such as the International Criminal Court?

The idea has been discussed, albeit briefly, especially in the case of Ben Ali following his remarkable downfall caused by what is now known as the Jasmine Revolution. Isabelle Tallec, independent journalist who blogs at Esprit de Justice (in French – but with a Google Translate bar) about issues relating to international justice, reported a few days ago on the different calls for Ben Ali to be indicted in front of an international court.

Ms. Tallec writes:

Ce n’est encore qu’un mouvement embryonnaire, mais qui a trouvé ces derniers jours un prolongement judiciaire. Ben Ali tombé, des appels épars ont commencé à circuler sur Internet demandant à ce qu’il soit traduit en justice et réclamant une enquête sur les crimes allégués du régime déchu.

Certains émanent de groupes informels, déjà existants ou constitués pour l’occasion, d’autres, d’organisations plus structurées. Des pétitions parfois relayées par les médias français et qui pour la plupart sollicitent l’intervention de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI).

Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier Photo: REUTERS

While in Tunisia a dictator flees his country, in Haiti, a former dictator, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, returns to “help with [the] reconstruction” of his country, shattered by an ongoing humanitarian crisis since an earthquake devastated the country over a year ago. Whatever Baby Doc’s real reasons for returning to his broken home country are, he is now in turn in trouble with Haiti’s justice system, which has charged him with theft and corruption and is considering investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed during his tenure as the small nation’s despot.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Callixte Mbarushimana’s Lawyer Contests Validity of Arrest Warrant – Divulgation Issues With OTP Continue

After Callixte Mbarushimana’s failure to stop the French authorities from transferring him to The Hague, Nicholas Kaufmann, his lawyer, has a new trick up his sleeve to try to get his client released: contesting the validity of the arrest warrant that was issued on 28 September 2010. We are not yet even close to the trial stage of the proceedings, and already problems are appearing that are worth commenting upon.

The claim. Mr. Kaufman’s main argument is that the arrest warrant for Callixte Mbarushimana was “sought and issued at a time when the case against him was plainly inadmissible” because there was an ongoing investigation regarding these same crimes and his client in Germany. This, he argues, despite the Prosecution’s claims that there were no such investigations in any State when they applied for the arrest warrant, and in violation of the fundamental principle of complementarity the International Criminal Court functions on.

To put it in simple terms, the Defence’s filing argues in elaborate and lawyerly terms that the Prosecution lied on a fundamental condition of admissibility – that there is no ongoing investigation for the same crimes anywhere – to get the Pre-Trial Chamber to issue the arrest warrant.

For now, it is hard to assess the validity of Mr. Kaufman’s claims, and it is better to wait for the Prosecution’s rebuttal due on Monday to pass any form of judgment or comment on this. However, it doesn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry »

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Dangers Ahead For International Justice – A Very Brief Reaction to David Bosco’s Post

David Bosco is raising the alarm on his excellent blog The Multilateralist over at Foreign Policy on some potentially very bad news for the international criminal justice project, regarding the ICC’s difficulties in Africa and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s delicate mission in an explosive-as-ever Lebanon.

The post is not very long, so it is difficult for me to quote excerpts without quoting the entire thing (which would not be appropriate without the author’s approval), so I can only strongly suggest you read it.

I do not have time for a detailed response, so I will have to content myself with two quick observations:

Regarding an engineered African withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the threat is undeniably there, and I do not doubt the credibility of the reports David Bosco mentions. However, things are a little more complex than what they appear, as Africa is a) not a homogeneous block – some African States are very pro-ICC, others a bit less, a few outright anti-; b) some African States do have an interest in having the ICC intervening in their country, and c) I was surprised while reading the statements given by delegations at the latest Assembly of States Parties at how conciliatory and even positively low-profile the African States’ declarations were. You’d think for a continent plotting to leave the Rome Statute in a coup, they would raise the issues bothering them in a louder fashion than what they did last month.

I sincerely doubt anything would happen before the Prosecutorial elections next year. The African group has a strong chance of having elected an African Prosecutor for the ICC, and I simply do not see them forfeiting that chance.

Regarding the situation in Lebanon, it is particularly delicate and one I have been meaning to write on for quite a while, and probably will as soon as I have a little more time on my hands (I still have a pile of reports on Lebanon to go through first). But it seems clear that the difficulties at the heart of the peace versus justice debate have never been so discernible and clear-cut than it is there. This is a situation to monitor and think about, for both sides.

Hopefully, I will have time to write more about each situation soon.

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Some Quick Thoughts About Africa, the Crime of Terrorism and the Rome Statute

As readers may know, I have been paying particular attention to the African Union’s attempt to put together a comprehensive counter-terrorism treaty, and have already posted some thoughts on the matter on the al-Wasat blog a few days before Christmas.

A few more thoughts occurred to me today as I was reading (for my current employer) the statements given by delegations to the Ninth Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court, which took place last month in New York. I still have a handful to go through, but so far the delegation from Nigeria’s statement (PDF file) has particularly caught my attention.

From the third paragraph of the statement, I quote and emphasize:

One significant contribution of our common efforts in developing an international criminal justice under the Rome Statute is the strengthening of the international community, acting in concert, to check the activities of armed non-state actors. As we all know, these are usually armed groups that operate outside state control or authority, often constituting threats to corporate existence of their victim states through operational styles marked by horrendous acts of impunity.

I was intrigued by the mention of ‘armed non-state actors’, also known as non-State armed groups. Of course, that term means many things. In fact, it is fairly self-explanatory: any armed group that is not under the direct control of a State is, logically, a non-State armed group.

But as I read that I subconsciously understood “terrorist groups” and that has brought me back to what I wrote last month. Read the rest of this entry »

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ICC Prosecutor’s Press Conference on Kenya – Live Webcast

For those who are looking for it, the link to watch the ICC Prosecutor’s Press Conference regarding the investigations and prosecutions in the situation in Kenya is the following: http://livestream.xs4all.nl/icc5.asx

The ICC website seems to be down at the moment of writing, but hopefully they’ll get it fixed within the 8 next minutes.

UPDATE: The ICC website is still down, but the livestream is alive and kicking.

UPDATE II: At 12.34 CET, the conference is now over.

UPDATE III: For those who missed the Conference but wish to listen to it nonetheless, RNW has made it available at the following address: http://www.rnw.nl/international-justice/article/ocampo-names-kenyan-suspects.

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The ICC Setting Its Eyes on Korea?

From the ICC website (emphasis being, as always, mine):

ICC Prosecutor: alleged war crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea under preliminary examination

The Office of the Prosecutor has received communications alleging that North Korean forces committed war crimes in the territory of the Republic of Korea. The Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, confirmed that the Office has opened a preliminary examination to evaluate if some incidents constitute war crimes under the jurisdiction of the Court. They are:

  1. the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island on the 23 November 2010 which resulted in the killing of South Korean marines and civilians and the injury of many others; and
  2. the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, hit by a torpedo allegedly fired from a North Korean submarine on 26 March 2010, which resulted in the death of 46 persons.

The Republic of Korea has been a State Party to the Rome Statute since 13 November 2002. As such, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide possibly committed on the territory of the Republic of Korea or by its nationals since 1st February 2003, date on which the Statute entered into force in the Republic of Korea.

This, in combination with the recent Wikileaks regarding China’s readiness to drop the North Korean regime could make for an interesting situation to follow in Korea. The ICC as an instrument of justice, contributing to the reunification of the two Koreas?

Let’s not quite go beyond ourselves yet, but hey, why not? Read the rest of this entry »

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The Bemba Trial: Ersatz Justice?

This is a guest post by my good friend and journalist Mélanie Gouby, who is currently in the Kivus, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Being aware of her views on the Bemba Trial, I asked her if she would be willing to write a guest post for The International Jurist to share them and perhaps begin a discussion on the latest ICC trial. She readily accepted, and made time in what I know to be a very busy schedule to write the post in the briefest delays, for which I am very grateful.

You can read more of Mélanie Gouby’s work on her blog, Going with the Wind (Facebook page here), recently nominated in the Best New Blog category for the 2010 Aid Blog Awards. You can also follow her on Twitter @Melaniegouby.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo at the ICC

 

The scales of the atrocities committed in central Africa over the last two decades is unmatched by any other conflict since World War Two, if only in the number of deaths. The Democratic Republic of Congo in particular has seen millions of people being massacred, raped, maimed, dying of diseases in insalubrious refugees camps and losing everything that made them human beings. Congo is an ongoing genocide. The reasons to the never-ending violence, devastating in a country already striped to the bones, are numerous. From the conveniently illegal mineral trade to the political factions trying to get their share of power, there is not one solution to end it. But there is one demand that unite all Congolese people: Justice. Read the rest of this entry »

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