#GlobalJustice Weekly - Calls for faster Afghan probe | Zambia: stay with the ICC

The current public consultation on ICC withdrawal is said to be dividing Zambians © Tendai Marima/Al Jazeera

Activists call for faster ICC Afghanistan probe

The ICC is under pressure from activists who are calling on it to speed up its probe into possible acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the war in Afghanistan. The probe is looking into alleged human rights violations committed by US and Afghan troops and Taliban fighters.

A group of 20 activists, both Afghan and international, are due to meet with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and plan to use the meeting to encourage faster action within the Court’s preliminary examination into the situation.

Katherine Gallagher, a lawyer representing the group, stated that they would “really like to encourage the office of the prosecutor to move forward with this”, whilst the Deputy President of the International Federation for Human Rights, Guissou Jahangiri, was equally adamant about the meeting’s importance.

"We are hoping that coming all the way here to The Hague we will have a strong message for the court," he stated.

Bensouda had announced last November that the examination was coming to its conclusion and that the decision on whether to ask the ICC judges to authorise a full investigation would be made soon.

Read the press release from the International Federation for Human Rights. 

Zambia: Stay with the ICC

Civil society has embarked on a campaign urging Zambia to remain in the International Criminal Court (ICC) after a public consultation was opened in March 2017 to decide whether or not the southern African country will withdraw from the Court. Public hearings are set to continue until 31 May 2017 and the result will likely be announced at an African Union (AU) summit later in the year.

Seventeen national and international NGOs joined forces to publish a press release detailing the advantages of remaining a Rome Statute signatory, highlighting the country’s proud contribution to the establishment of the ICC and its history as an active member. Zambia signed the ICC’s founding treaty, the Rome Statute, the day it opened for signature on 17 July 1998.

“[Leaving the ICC] would be ill-advised as Zambia does not have any laws that would ensure that should international crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity take place in that country, there would be no avenues for accountability,” Allan Ngari, Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, told Newsweek. “Zambian victims of international crimes would have no recourse to justice.”

Zambians are said to be heavily divided on the matter, with claims by opposition leaders that the exercise was overshadowing “more pressing issues” quashed by the government which stated that it was important that citizens take part in the process.

Zambian opposition leader and vocal opponent of a potential ICC withdrawal, Hakainde Hichilema, was reportedly detained this week and questioned by police with regards to allegations of treason.

Read more here.

Read the speech delivered by SACCORD on the CSO position on Zambia's membership to the ICC.

Read Zambia’s Membership to the International Criminal Court - A Civil Society Position by SACCORD

 

ICC Investigations

Georgia: Anatoly Bibilov has won so called presidential elections in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, a vote that was condemned by Georgia, the U.S. and the E.U. amongst others. President Putin has offered his congratulations to Bibilov, after a Russian government statement advised that it viewed the elections as democratic.

DRC: Protests called by the opposition party in the capital Kinshasa failed to go ahead after the government under President Kabila banned them from taking place as troops took up positions in the streets. This comes amidst a call from the UN representative in the DRC to Kabila to respect a power sharing agreement brokered in December 2016.

Sudan: The Darfur region has seen fresh clashes between local tribes result in several detahs, after the head of the UN peacekeeping mission there called for the UN and the AU to amend the mandate of the operation in preparation for its departure.

 

Preliminary Investigations

Burundi: A report by International Crisis Group has found that the Burundian military is facing a crisis, as it appears to be fragmenting and suffering internal strife in the form of random assassinations and faction forming, a worrying sign for a nation still struggling to cope with a worsening security situation.

Palestine: The de facto ruling Hamas party in Gaza has executed three men who were accused of collaborating with Israel and were tried and convicted in military courts in Gaza. Amnesty International and other organisations have condemned the executions.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

The French Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CFCPI) has publicly called on candidates in the 2017 French presidential elections to show their commitment to international criminal justice and the fight against impunity, foremost by advocating for amendments to France's Rome Statute implementing law.

Despite reservations about the ICC, Uganda has reaffirmed its commitment to the Court with attorney general William Byaruhanga stating that it prides itself as the first country to have made a referral to the Court and as such is not considering withdrawing from the Rome Statute.

When asked during a recent trip to Malaysia about the assassination of North Korean national Kim Jong-nam, the ICC's president explained that the situation could be looked at by the Court if Malaysia decided to become a Rome Statute signatory or if the situation were referred by the United Nations Security Council.

Health Assistance Kenya (HAK) is looking to create awareness of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Mombasa, after a study revealed that a total of 199 women, 123 girls, 47 men and 64 boys have experienced this form of violence in the region.

With around 21.7 million refugees currently worldwide, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s protection chief has emphasized the complementarity of sheltering refugees and ensuring the security of the countries that receive them.

 

Around the world

The UNHCR has expressed consternation at the deteriorating security situation in South Sudan, which has seen aid workers receive beatings from government and opposition forces and over 6,000 nationals flee into neighboring Uganda.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for bomb attacks that erupted in two of Egypt’s Coptic churches on Palm Sunday, killing at least 47 people and injuring over a hundred more.

In the midst of a Syrian conflict reportedly "characterized by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law", a judge in Spain has opened an inaugural case against alleged war crimes said to have been perpetrated by the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.