After almost two decades of silence in the aftermath of its civil war (1975-2002), the Angolan government on 10 December 2019 changed its course by launching a “Reconciliation Plan in Memory of Victims of the Armed Conflicts in Angola”. Why was this plan established and how likely is it that this new approach will contribute to the healing of open wounds and genuine reconciliation?
Straight after its war of independence against the Portuguese colonizer, Angola went through a devastating civil war between 1975 and 2002. What could be characterized as a ‘proxy Cold-War’ in the 1970s and 1980s, turned in the 1990s into a ‘greed’ based war over the control of natural resources.… Seguir leyendo »
Dark, cold and heavy clouds loom over foggy, grey Brussels. A large crowd stands in line to enter the old Justice Palace, which has been under reconstruction for a couple of years. An elderly Rwandan man, wearing a chic white trench coat, manoeuvres through the scaffolding and smoothly jumps the line. At 71, his pace is slow. He drags one of his feet. Supporting himself with a crutch in his right hand, he passes security and makes his way up the imposing stairway. His destination is a timeworn, dingy and dark courtroom. It is located at the outer wing of the historic Palace, which was inaugurated in 1883 by King Leopold II, infamous for his lethal colonial exploitation of the Congo Free State, today’s Democratic Republic of Congo.… Seguir leyendo »
This week the case will commence at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) before the glare of the world’s media, drawn not only by the significance of the case itself, but in particular by the direct role Aung Sang Suu Kyi is set to play in the defence of her government. On 11 November, The Gambia instituted proceedings against Myanmar at the ICJ, based in The Hague. The Gambia’s application alleges that the Government of Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya constitutes a manifest violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
The persecution of the Rohingya has been ongoing for decades; their status as the ‘other’ has been a convenient outlet for the oppressive, violent and, all too often, deadly impulses of Buddhist nationalism stretching back to well before the independence of the state in 1948.… Seguir leyendo »
Global greenhouse gas emissions are up 60% since 1990. Last week, the United Nations Environment Program published its 10th Emission Gap Report. This report analyses the latest scientific studies on current and future greenhouse gas emissions. Its findings are alarming: countries collectively failed to stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions. A conclusion must be drawn: more striking efforts that those initially anticipated must be deployed by states and companies to radically cut greenhouse gas emissions. These efforts must be deployed now to prevent dangerous levels of climate change.
Almost no one seriously contests anymore that increasing greenhouse gas emissions have a significant impact on the planet’s climate or that these emissions essentially result from human activities.… Seguir leyendo »
Ecocide, a Vietnam war ‘veteran’ concept used to describe the destruction caused by Agent Orange, is also the 5th missing element of crime of the Rome Statute, dropped from the International Criminal Court (ICC) draft code in 1996, recalls Jojo Mehta. A British environmental activist, she carries the global campaign to change international law, initiated by the late Polly Higgins, before the 2019 Assembly of States Parties. Mehta defends that going the route of the ICC can be faster, cheaper and create more genuine enforcement and deterrence than going the road of corporate litigation.
It’s not every day you inherit – literally – a global campaign to change international law. … Seguir leyendo »
Widespread impunity prevailing in the Central African Republic applies in particular to sexual and gender-based crimes, which are increasingly documented and recorded. As criminal prosecution can only be limited in the absence of an effective judicial structure, we look here at possible solutions. These include the so-called «holistic» approach promoted by the Institut francophone pour la justice et la démocratie, along with the team of Nobel Peace Prize winner doctor Denis Mukwege of Congo and the ongoing Truth and Reconciliation Commission project.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), as in all states marked by recent conflict, dealing with sexual violence is one of the major issues that transitional justice must address.… Seguir leyendo »
An older woman spoke haltingly into a microphone, her hands trembling from the memory: “They beat my whole body, my eyes and hands were tied. They hit me with a big plank of wood. There were four of them. They hit me on the head, and whipped me with a belt.”
Thus began two days of testimonies at the local parliament house in Lhokseumawe, in the northern part of Aceh, a province of Indonesia located at the northern end of Sumatra. On 16 and 17 of July fifteen victims and family members of the disappeared took their place on stage, speaking before Aceh’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).… Seguir leyendo »
The situation in Brazil illustrates a sad fact: none of the mechanisms in place make it possible, as it stands, to effectively combat ecocide and associated criminal practices. Data published by the Brazilian Space Agency reveal that in June 2019, deforestation in the Amazon increased by 88% compared to June last year. This trend has exploded since November 2018 with the election of Jair Bolsonaro, who has pledged to promote the development of the Amazon by opening it up more to agricultural and mining investments and putting an end to the repression of environmental crimes.
His government has been following up on its promises.… Seguir leyendo »
Reparations are measures intended as far as possible to acknowledge and remedy victims’ harm by a responsible actor. The ICC and other international criminal law bodies (in Cambodia and in Senegal) have allowed victims to claim reparations against a convicted person, but few victims have so far benefited from such measures, since a conviction is needed before they can claim reparations. Even when a conviction is secured, there are challenges of implementation or politicisation of reparations to which the ICC is not immune. In practice, victims will often never receive reparations or may wait years for them.
At the ICC, only three cases have so far reached the reparation stage, in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and in Mali.… Seguir leyendo »
The disavowal of international criminal justice is part of a general trend towards a return to nationalism and the desire of States to have a monopoly on trials. Management of the world’s increasingly scarce resources often involves economic and military interests that place multinationals at the heart of international relations. Mining activities, for example, are almost always conducted under the protection of private military and security companies supported by private banks. These companies become actors in armed conflicts and may be directly or indirectly involved in international crimes.
In order to avoid binding legislation (and litigation), companies have supported and subscribed to voluntary codes of conduct, non-binding standards adopted by governments and/or companies.… Seguir leyendo »
The Special Criminal Court (SCC) Statute gives the court jurisdiction over gross human rights and humanitarian law violations according to Central African Republic’s (CAR) domestic criminal code and its international obligations, namely war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide which may have been committed in CAR since 1 January 2003.
The prospect of a trial and conviction, if an accused is found guilty, inevitably raises the question of reparations for the victims who will have civil party status. In fact, the SCC can award individual and/or collective reparations, including financial compensation, psychological support and agrarian or industrial funds. No trust fund mechanism is envisaged in the framework of the SCC to oversee the implementation of reparations awards.… Seguir leyendo »
The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls found that an ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples constitutes a root cause of the violence that is currently being perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls. Genocide is a centerpiece of the National Inquiry’s report, which argues that colonial violence is ongoing, not just a legacy of the past. Its 231 Calls for Justice reflect the legal obligation to stop genocide through a range of policy and process changes.
Numbers are difficult to ascertain, as they keep growing, but nearly two decades of studies and reports in Canada have uncovered more than 1,200 names of Indigenous women who are known to have been killed or who have simply disappeared.… Seguir leyendo »
Tomorrow, June 19, is International Day to End Conflict-related Sexual Violence. It’s been a roller coaster year for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and their advocates. The last time June 19 came around, many of us were reeling from the acquittal of Jean-Paul Bemba Gombo by the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which had just reversed the ICC’s first conviction for rape and sexual violence. Six months later, in December 2018, morale swung in the opposite direction: the Nobel Peace Prize went to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Ms. Nadia Murad for their joint efforts to support survivors of conflict-related sexual violence in their home countries of Democratic Republic of Congo and Iraq.… Seguir leyendo »
Authorities and politicians like to talk of the fight against impunity. Yet while the reality of this struggle has intensified, it remains worrying that it is so limited. The case of Hissène Habré – president of Chad in the 1980s, tried in Senegal three years ago – offers us a good perspective on one of the main limits of this struggle.
The fight against impunity can be described in three stages.
Recognition of suffering
The first one is recognition of victims’ suffering. This recognition should be public. It is sometimes through the courts if victims use legal channels to establish the violations suffered: these are the different human rights procedures that can be carried out at national, regional or global level.… Seguir leyendo »
Nearly 11 years ago, on 14 August 2008, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced the preliminary examination of the situation in Georgia. The matter referred to the international armed conflict in Georgia’s breakaway region, South Ossetia, in what some commentators have named the first European war of the 21st century.
The region had been under the control of pro-Russian separatists since the early 1990s. Ongoing tensions and periodic armed clashes between the Georgian army and separatist forces escalated during July to early August 2008 with a series of explosions targeting, among others, both Georgian and separatist military and political leaders in South Ossetia.… Seguir leyendo »
On May 20, 2019, Cameroon celebrates the 47th edition of its «Unity Festival», commemorating when the country went from a federal state to a unitary state. However, this celebration is taking place in a deep state of national upheaval. What is now known as the «Anglophone crisis » has so far caused more than 1,850 deaths in 20 months of conflict, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group. Now saying they want the dialogue they have so far opposed, Cameroon’s political powers are trying to brush under the carpet international crimes that have been and are still being committed in this conflict.… Seguir leyendo »
On March 24, a massive crowd of hundreds of thousands marched in the streets of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, towards Plaza de Mayo to repudiate the coup that seized power forty-three years earlier, on March 24, 1976. Somewhere amidst the immense crowd were the survivors of a particular crime, the kidnapped and tortured workers of Ford Motor Argentina, and their families, surrounded by over 70 trade-union organizations and confederations. They were holding a giant banner stating: “The Ford trial: a workers´ victory.”
Survivors and relatives handed out thousands of leaflets. They were photographed and greeted once and again. And they were mentioned in the main speech which celebrated the importance of the verdict in this particular trial, while being reminded of many other cases and trials, such as the one analyzing the repression in Villa Constitución and of the Steel mill Acindar, as well as the trial about the violations of human rights against Mercedes-Benz workers in Argentina during the military dictatorship.… Seguir leyendo »
Nobody stops in Lago Agrio unless they have to. This uninviting Ecuadorian town is dirty, humid and leaves the visitor with a general feeling of insalubrity. Located just a few kilometres from the Colombian border, it is often associated with drug trafficking, prostitution and other forms of organised crime.
Two main reasons drive people there, both linked to two conflicting economic activities. The first is fossil fuel extraction: the town was created in the 1960s as a base for Texaco’s oil extraction activities. Its name Lago Agrio translates as “Sour Lake.” The second is tourism: Lago Agrio is a starting point to access various lodges and tours to the Amazonian forest.… Seguir leyendo »
The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor launched her preliminary examination into the situation in Ukraine on 25 April 2014. Over the last five years, hundreds of victims and witnesses – assisted by civil society – have submitted credible evidence of a macabre catalogue of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by a range of actors on Ukrainian territory. The Prosecutor has a legal duty to initiate a full investigation as soon as there is a ‘reasonable basis to believe’ that a crime within the Court’s jurisdiction has taken place, and that such a case would be admissible.
Remarkably, the Prosecutor is yet to formally decide on whether any ICC Statute crimes have taken place in Ukraine.… Seguir leyendo »
The summer of 2018 visited a naturalized Ethiopian American with a twinge of pity. After about 40 years of anonymity, Nigussie Mergia, who is now 58 years old, could be facing a fatal intersection of time and space following his arrest on charges of multiple immigration offenses. The sealed indictment from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) alleges that Mr. Nigussie lied in his immigration documents about his role in persecuting Ethiopian prisoners for their political opinions during the country’s so-called “Red Terror” period in 1977-78. His trial is to open on February 25 before a district court in Virginia.… Seguir leyendo »