Friday, April 21, 2017 - 00:00

By ICL Media Review

In this week's review, news about Uganda’s search for Kony, Argentina signing an enforcement agreement with the ICC, mass graves found in DRC, Ntaganda decision on prior recorded testimony, Tunisia’s acceptance of direct access to the African Court, Holocaust files opened to the public, the ICJ’s provisional measures in Ukraine v. Russia, and more

Uganda ends participation in search for Kony

On Wednesday, Uganda’s military announced it is ending its pursuit of Joseph Kony, the alleged commander-in-chief of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In a statement, the army said it had “successfully achieved” its mission to “neutralise” the LRA and that it is hence withdrawing its troops from the Central African Republic, where it has been searching for Kony with the support of US and African Union (AU) troops since 2012. “Joseph Kony with less than 100 armed fighters is now weak and ineffective. He no longer poses any significant threat to Uganda’s security and northern Uganda in particular,” the statement reads. The decision comes a month after the US decided to withdraw its forces from the manhunt for Kony. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kony in 2005, listing 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes, including the forced enlistment of children, murder, and sexual enslavement. (BBCABC News)

Enforcement agreement signed for ICC convicts to serve sentences in Argentina

On 18 April, the ICC signed an agreement with the government of Argentina on the enforcement of sentences of ICC convicts. The agreement opens the possibility for individuals convicted by the ICC to serve their sentences in Argentina if so decided by the Court and accepted by Argentina. “The signature of this agreement is timely, as enforcement of sentences is no longer a distant prospect, but an immediate necessity resulting from the increased judicial activity of the ICC,” said ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, welcoming Argentina’s continued support to the Court and recalling that the ICC has no prisons of its own. Under Article 103(1) of the Rome Statute, sentences of imprisonment shall be served in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated their willingness to accept convicted persons. Similar agreements on the enforcement of sentences have already been signed between the ICC and the governments of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Mali, Norway, Serbia and the United Kingdom. (ICC Press Release)

UN investigators find 17 additional mass graves in DRC

On 19 April, the Offices of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that a team of UN investigators found 17 mass graves in the Kasai Central province of the DRC, where government forces have repeatedly clashed with the Kamuina Nsapu militiamen. On 4 April, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) announced it had discovered 23 other mass graves in the areas, bringing the total number of mass graves recently documented up to 40.  UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stated that “The discovery of yet more mass graves and the reports of continued violations and abuses highlight the horror that has been unfolding in the Kasai over the last nine months,” and underscored the need for closer scrutiny of the situation. “Should there be no effective national investigation, I will not hesitate to urge the international community to support an investigation by an international mechanism, including the International Criminal Court,” he added. (Anadolu AgencyUN News Agency)

Investigations to be conducted on British colonial abuses against Nandi clan

It is reported that investigations, to be conducted by a legal team instructed by the Governor of Kenya’s Nandi County, Cleophas Lagat, are due to begin.  The legal team is to conduct investigations in preparation for a case against the British Government over alleged colonial abuses and in order to “pursue justice for the Nandi.”  The investigations will examine allegations against the British Government for a range of abuses during colonial times including torture, killings, arbitrary detentions, forceful eviction and confiscation of ancestral land. The legal team is led by Karim Khan, who defended Kenya’s former Deputy President William Ruto at the ICC.  (Standard Media)

ICC Trial Chamber rejects Ntaganda defence leave to appeal on admission of prior recorded testimony

In the case of The Prosecutor V. Bosco Ntaganda, Trial Chamber VI has rejected the Defence team’s request for leave to appeal the “Decision on Prosecution application under Rule 68(2)(c) for admission of prior recorded testimony of Witness P-0016.” On 24 February 2017, the Trial Chamber had granted the Prosecutor’s request to admit prior-recorded testimony of Witness P-0016 into evidence. Ntaganda’s Defence subsequently appealed against the admission of this pre-recorded evidence, arguing that the admission of a witness statement that was not subject to cross-examination, and which includes allegations of the accused’s knowledge about one alleged incident in particular, in and of itself significantly affects the fair conduct (and potentially the outcome) of the trial. Trial Chamber VI concluded however that the four ‘issues’ raised by the Defence either did not constitute an issue which would significantly affect the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings or the outcome of the trial, or did not even amount to ‘issues’ within the permitted meaning of Article 82(1)(d) of the ICC Statute. (TC Decision)

Tunisia signs declaration allowing NGOs and individuals direct access to the African Court

On 17 April the Tunisian Minister for Foreign Affairs signed the declaration based on Article 34(5) of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  This declaration will enable NGOs and individuals new, direct access to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Tunisia becomes the eighth country to sign the declaration, alongside Tanzania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Malawi and Mali. Concurrently, the Tunisian President has called for the African Court to be popularised throughout the African continent, and the president of the Court, Justice Sylvain Oré, has similarly urged other African countries to follow suit in signing the declaration: “For the Court to achieve its objectives and further strengthen African human rights systems, a greater number of countries must ratify the protocol and make the declaration under Article 34(6).” (All AfricaCapitalFM)

Files from UN War Crimes Commissions of WWII Holocaust prosecutions opened to public

In the week of 21 April, the Wiener Library in London will make tens of thousands of files regarding the Holocaust accessible to the general public. These files of the UN War Crimes Commission, once inaccessible, are thought to contain information constituting early evidence of Holocaust concentration camps in eastern Europe; early demands for justice in countries that suffered invasion such as Poland and China; and references to war crime prosecutions for rape and prostitution in diverse tribunals in the late 1940s, including in Greece, the Philippines, and Poland. This bank of information was closed in the late 1940s together with the UN War Crimes Commission, but almost 70 years later, the files will be open to the general public. The files will be available online at the Wiener Library’s website, and feature a catalogue to facilitate online searches of the documents. (The GuardianTime)

ICJ issues decision on provisional measures in Ukraine v. Russia case:

On Wednesday 19 April 2017, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its Order on Ukraine’s request for indication of provisional measures in the case concerning the Application of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Ukraine v. Russian Federation). In this request for provisional protection measures, Ukraine asked for an urgent ICJ order to prevent Russia from “any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute” including, inter alia, a halt to the alleged provision of money, weapons, equipment and/or personnel to the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. 

The ICJ’s decision did not apply provisional measures under the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism (ICSFT) as requested because the conditions required for implementing measures did not apply.  However, the Court found that conditions were met for applying provisional measures under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).  The Provisional Measures ordered include that Russia must “Refrain from maintaining or imposing limitations on the ability of the Crimean Tatar community to conserve its representative institutions, including the Mejlis;” and “Ensure the availability of education in the Ukrainian language”. 

In addition, the ICJ ordered that “Both Parties shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.”  Ukraine complaint against Russia alleges violations of the terms of the Terrorism Financing Convention and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. These claims allege that Russia caused, facilitated or supported acts of terrorism, and perpetrated racial discrimination against Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians in Crimea. (ICJ Press ReleaseUkrinform)


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