Tag Archives: ICC

British Human Rights Lawyer elected as ICC prosecutor in over 120 countries.

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Khan also served as counsel for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is still being sought by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity.

More than 120 countries elected British lawyer Karim Khan as the next prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), one of the toughest jobs in international law because the tribunal seeks justice for the world’s worst atrocities – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

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Khan, 50, who led a United Nations probe into atrocities by the ISIL (ISIS) group, won on a second round of voting at the UN in New York on Friday with support from 72 nations, 10 more than the 62 needed.

His election on the second secret ballot by the 123 parties to the Rome Statute that established the court ends a drawn-out and divisive process to replace Fatou Bensouda when her nine-year term expires in June.

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Khan, who has specialised in international criminal law and international human rights law, was widely seen as the favourite to get the job. But neither he nor any of the other candidates garnered enough support to be appointed by consensus, prompting Friday’s election in the UN General Assembly Hall.

Reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, NoRM said it was the first time since the ICC started work almost 20 years ago that the 123 countries that are part of the court elected the new chief prosecutor after a candidate could not be agreed by consensus.

Although this is an independent legal position, Bays said, everything about the ICC “ends up being politically charged”.

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“A number of his early decisions are bound to be controversial, whichever course he takes.”

Addressing ‘shortcomings’
Following Khan, Fergal Gaynor of Ireland was second with 42 votes followed by Spain’s Carlos Castresana Fernandez with five votes and Francesco Lo Voi of Italy with three votes. One member did not vote.

Khan, who has the rank of a UN assistant secretary-general, has also worked as a prosecutor at the tribunal prosecuting war crimes in former Yugoslavia and crimes against humanity and genocide in Rwanda.

He is no stranger to the ICC, having acted as a defence lawyer for Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and persuading judges to throw out prosecution charges against his client. Gaynor acted as a legal representative for victims in the Ruto case, which focused on post-election violence.

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Khan also served as counsel for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who is still being sought by the ICC on charges of crimes against humanity.

“Karim Khan’s election as prosecutor is occurring at a time when the ICC is needed more than ever but has faced significant challenges and pressure on its role,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch.

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“We will be looking to Mr Khan to address shortcomings in the court’s performance while demonstrating firm independence in seeking to hold even the most powerful rights abusers to account.”

While the Security Council has used its power under the Rome Statute to refer conflicts in Sudan’s western Darfur region and in Libya to the ICC, calls for the UN’s most powerful body to refer Syria, and more recently Myanmar, to the tribunal have failed.

‘An existential threat’
In the last several years, Bensouda had sought to broaden its reach beyond its early all-African focus including Afghanistan, Palestine, which is a party to the Rome Statute, and Georgia.

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The ICC is needed more than ever, Dicker said, “because of the proliferation of these horrific crimes”, but the court had faced “an existential threat” from former US President Donald Trump’s administration.

It slapped sanctions on Bensouda and one of her top aides last year for continuing to investigate war crimes allegations against Americans, although the court was often criticised in the past for its focus on African crimes.

Last week, ICC judges angered Israel by saying the court’s jurisdiction extends to territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, potentially clearing the way for the prosecutor to open an investigation into Israeli military actions and the country’s construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.

While Palestinian rights groups welcomed the move, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the decision a “perversion of justice”.

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The selection process for the prosecutor and the alleged failure by the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties to conduct stringent background checks on the candidates to ensure they met the requirement of “high moral character” has drawn criticism from civil society groups that work with the court.

A diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss details of closed meetings said the fact that many of the meetings to discuss possible successors to Bensouda took place virtually made it difficult for member nations to discuss concerns during informal “corridor” meetings.

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#Newsworthy

Israeli PM, Netanyahu pledges to fight anti-semitic ICC ruling.

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Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh praised the ICC ruling as “a victory for justice and humanity,

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday angrily rejected an International Criminal Court’s ruling that paves the way for war crimes probe into the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, condemning it as “pure anti-Semitism”.

“As prime minister of Israel, I can assure you this: we will fight this perversion of justice with all our might,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

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“This is pure anti-Semitism.”

On Friday, the ICC ruled that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, paving the way for the tribunal to open a war crimes investigation.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had asked the court for its legal opinion on whether its reach extended to areas occupied by Israel, after announcing in December 2019 that she wanted to start a full probe.

The ICC said its judges had “decided, by the majority, that the Court’s territorial jurisdiction in the Situation in Palestine… extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank, including east Jerusalem”.

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Palestine is a state party to the court, having joined in 2015, but Israel is not a member.

Israelis protest amid the coronavirus pandemic crisis against their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demand his resignation over corruption cases and his failure to combat the Covid-19, on January 5, 2021 in Tel Aviv. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed mostly Arab east Jerusalem.

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Today they are home to at least five million Palestinians defined by the United Nations as living under Israeli occupation. The Gaza Strip is blockade by Israel and ruled by the Islamist Hamas group.

Palestinian prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh praised the ICC ruling as “a victory for justice and humanity, for the values of truth, fairness and freedom, and for the blood of the victims and their families”.

The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza and has fought three wars against Israel, said: “the most important step… is to bring the Zionist criminals of war before international courts and hold them responsible”.

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But Netanyahu cried foul against any bid by the ICC to investigate “fake war crimes”.

“The court, established to prevent atrocities like the Nazi Holocaust against the Jewish people, is now targeting the one state of the Jewish people,” he said.

“First, it outrageously claims that when Jews live in our homeland, this is a war crime.

“Second, it claims that when democratic Israel defends itself against terrorists who murder our children and rocket our cities, we are committing another war crime,” he added.

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He said the ICC should be investigating “brutal dictatorships like Iran and Syria who commit horrific atrocities almost daily”.

The US State Department said it has “serious concerns” about the ICC ruling, adding that Israel should not be bound by the court as it was not a member.

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#Newsworthy

EndSARs: ICC begins probe into protesters massacre in Nigeria

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For weeks crowds of peaceful protesters gathered in streets in major towns of the country to demonstrate against police brutality, leading to a crackdown.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has disclosed that it’s conducting a preliminary investigation into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported on Wednesday.

In a statement, the office of the ICC prosecutor had earlier said it had received information on alleged crimes.

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The examination will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”

Rights group Amnesty International said security forces opened fire on protesters, killing and injuring a number of people. Both the police and the army have rejected Amnesty’s allegation.

The ICC said it would make findings of the preliminary examination public.


#Newsworthy…

ICC frowns at United States sanctions on officials.

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US sanctions target International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and a top aide over Afghanistan probe.


The International Criminal Court (ICC) has condemned “unprecedented” sanctions imposed by the United States on prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and one of her top aides in retaliation for a probe into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Hague-based tribunal said the sanctions announced by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo against Bensouda and another senior official, Phakiso Mochochoko, were “serious attacks” against the rule of law.

Pompeo announced the moves on Wednesday, saying that “the ICC continues to target Americans”.

The ICC said in a statement the new measures “are another attempt to interfere with the Court’s judicial and prosecutorial independence and crucial work to address grave crimes of concern to the international community”.

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The sanctions include a freeze on assets held in the US or subject to US law and target Bensouda and the court’s head of jurisdiction, Mochochoko.

Pompeo also said individuals and entities that continue to materially support Bensouda and Mochochoko would risk exposure to sanctions as well.

Public Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is investigating whether war crimes were committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan military and US forces [File: Eva Plevier/Pool via Reuters]

“We will not tolerate its illegitimate attempts to subject Americans to its jurisdiction,” Pompeo said.

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The war crimes court said it “continues to stand firmly by its personnel and its mission of fighting impunity for the world’s most serious crimes”.

The ICC will continue its investigation into possible war crimes by the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.

The State Department also restricted the issuance of visas for individuals Pompeo said were involved in the court’s efforts to investigate US personnel, though he did not name those affected.

Member countries of the International Criminal Court hit out against the “unacceptable” sanctions.

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“I strongly reject such unprecedented and unacceptable measures against a treaty-based international organisation,” said O-Gon Kwon, president of the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was concerned by Pompeo’s announcement, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters.

Dujarric said that “we trust that any restriction taken against individuals will be implemented consistently” with a decades-old US deal with the United Nations to host the world body’s headquarters in New York.

Pompeo says the move is part of the administration’s pushback against the world court for investigations into the US and its allies [Nicholas Kamm/Pool via Reuters]

‘Stunning perversion’
Bensouda was given the go-ahead by the court in March to investigate whether war crimes were committed in Afghanistan by the Taliban, Afghan military and US forces.

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The US revoked Bensouda’s entry visa last year in response to the possible Afghanistan inquiry. But under an agreement between the UN and Washington, she was still able to regularly travel to New York to brief the UN Security Council on cases it had referred to the court in The Hague.

Rights groups immediately condemned the US designations.

Richard Dicker, Human Rights Watch international justice director, said it was a “stunning perversion of US sanctions.”

“The Trump administration has twisted these sanctions to obstruct justice, not only for certain war crimes victims, but for atrocity victims anywhere looking to the International Criminal Court for justice,” he said.


#Newsworthy…

Former Ivory Coast President, Laurent Gbagbo denied in new Election bid.

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Ivory Coast election authorities rejected appeals by former President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to run in the country’s October election, an official said Friday.

President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to contest a third term in October has already triggered outrage among opposition and civil society groups, who labelled it a “coup” that risked triggering chaos.

Gbagbo and Soro had appealed to the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) against a decision to not include them in electoral lists for the ballot.

“The decisions have been posted since the 18th, the CEI has not granted their requests,” Inza Kigbafori, the CEI communications manager, told AFP.

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Ouattara, in power since 2010, had said in March that he would not run for re-election. The opposition says he is unable to run because the constitution limits presidents to two terms.

Ouattara changed his position after the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly — seen as Ouattara’s anointed successor — from a heart attack in July.

The shock news heightened tensions before October 31 vote, which takes place in the shadow cast by violence following 2010’s election that killed around 3,000 people.

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo gestures as he enters the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague on January 15, 2019. Peter Dejong / ANP / AFP

Gbagbo was freed conditionally by the International Criminal Court (ICC) after he was cleared in 2019 of crimes against humanity.

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His return to Ivory Coast would be sensitive before the presidential election. His Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party urged him to throw his hat in the electoral ring.

Soro, a former rebel leader, has been forced into self-imposed exile in France in the face of a long list of legal problems at home.

He was a leader in a 2002 revolt that sliced the former French colony into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south and triggered years of unrest.

He was once an ally of Ouattara, helping him to power during the post-election crisis in 2010. The two eventually fell out.


#Newsworthy…

Afghanistan War Probe: ICC blast United States

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has condemned the United States’ imposition of financial and travel sanctions on court officials.

President Donald Trump imposed sanctions against persons investigating American troops for potential war crimes in Afghanistan.

ICC, in a statement, expressed “profound regret at the announcement of further threats and coercive actions, including financial measures, against the court and its officials.”

The UN-backed institution said the “attacks constitute an escalation and an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the court’s judicial proceedings.”

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ICC had announced that it would probe possible crimes against humanity in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014, including those allegedly committed by U.S. forces and the CIA.

… includes visa restrictions against those affected and their families.

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“We will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo said.

America warned that it would take tougher measures if the enquiry was carried out.


#Newsworthy…

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In – ICC president expected as school mates commence reunion.

Nigeria’s legal Goliath and International Criminal Court (ICC) president, Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji, might jet into the country any moment from now to be part of his alma mater’s inaugural reunion scheduled to hold on December 30, 2019.

Our correspondent gathered that Eboe-Osuji’s mates at Aquinas Secondary School, Osuh, Mbano in Isiala-Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State will be staging a reunion of their members the very first time in the school’s 57-year-old history.

A release issued by the event’s Local Organising Committee Chairman, Dr Don Ogbonna and Publicity Secretary and former Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) ace, Felix Iwuagwu, noted that Justice Eboe-Osuji is among many accomplished old students expected to grace the event, adding that the members were looking forward to the meeting with bated breath.

The statement noted that several important persons in government, the private sector – including religious and traditional leaders had been contacted to grace the event taking place in the school’s compound along Anara-Okigwe-Enugu highway.

The statement added that the old students’ meeting is a positive step towards rebuilding the school and returning it to the path of glory.

“For the first time in their history, the old students of the quintessential Aquinas Secondary School, Osuh in Isiala-Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, will be having a reunion of all their members.

“The epoch-making event which is slated to hold on December 30, 2019, at the school’s compound, will see old students of the school reuniting with one another for the first time in the college’s 57-year history.

“The old students – among them are accomplished men and women including the current President of the International Criminal Court in Hague, Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji – are expected to grace the august occasion.

“The reunion is offering a greater opportunity to the old students to make good their intentions, having shown greater zeal and readiness to contribute towards rebuilding the school from ground zero after many years of neglect and decay. Everyone is in one accord that the forthcoming event will offer the much-needed impetus to hit the ground running, with all eyes set on returning the institution to the path of glory.

“Ahead of the December 30 meeting, contact is being made with high net worth personalities in the state and around the country including His Lordship, Most Rev Dr Solomon Amatu, the Catholic Bishop of Okigwe Diocese (the current proprietor of the school) among other dignitaries to bless the gathering with their august presence.

“In particular, the old students have concluded plans to pull in, their amiable mentor and one time principal of the school, Rev Fr Dr S.I Okeke, (in his 80s) under whose command Aquinas Secondary School, Osuh aka Aquisco, soared to greater heights, recording 100 per cent year-in-year-out in school certificate examinations and hitting the zenith of academic excellence with the winning of the famous Imo (Imo and Abia) State school quiz challenge in 1979 with Justice Eboe-Osuji as a member of the winning team. Such is the pedigree of the institution founded in 1962 by the late Catholic Bishop of Umuahia Diocese, Most Rev Dr AG Nwedo. The late cleric and founder of the school, will be especially remembered for his untiring effort at growing the school.

“Divine providence is bringing together the old students of the school after discovering the spirit of oneness, which has opened new vistas to the enormity of social capital, they had long neglected to appropriate over the past decades.

“Meanwhile, the old students spread across the country and all the continents of the world, have expressed burning desire and enthusiasm at attending the great occasion.

“Members have already massively identified with coordinators appointed for various zones for administrative convenience. The zones are South East, (Owerri), South-South, Port Harcourt) South West (Lagos) and Northern zone (Abuja). Elsewhere, members in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Oceania and African zones have shown greater solidarity.”

#Newsworthy…