Crisis in central and east Africa | JOIN the ICC | More time to nominate judges

Combined justice efforts needed for lasting peace in central Africa © NRC

Justice needed as crisis looms for central and east Africa

A humanitarian crisis is emerging in central and east Africa with several countries facing rising armed violence, displacement and food insecurity. To curb the escalating situation, the United Nations (UN) and civil society have reiterated the urgent need to bring perpetrators of human rights abuses to justice.

In its latest report the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs states that "conflict is pervasive and spreading in South Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), while Kenya faces the risk of election-related violence in 2017." Meanwhile, a fragile peace is under threat in the Central African Republic, and authorities in Cameroon are alleged to have tortured hundreds of detainees in the fight against Boko Haram.

According to the UN report, nearly 640,000 refugees and asylum seekers have sought protection in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa region since the start of 2017, making for a total of 4.4 million displaced persons. The majority of the newly displaced are reportedly from South Sudan and Burundi. South Sudan has become the origin of the fastest growing refugee crisis globally while the DRC this year topped the charts for the world’s highest number of people fleeing conflict internally.

In an open debate on enhancing African capacities in peace and security at the UN Security Council last week,  Secretary-General António Guterres said the UN and the African Union share an interest in strengthening mechanisms to defuse conflicts before they escalate and to manage them effectively when they occur.

While some of the situations in the troubled region have already begun to show hopeful signs following international action or pressure, including by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in some cases, others are making it clear that a wide spectrum of responses within the Rome Statute system of international justice will have to come into play in the region for lasting peace to be possible.

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JOIN campaign

The ministers of foreign affairs from Denmark, Cyprus, Argentina and Czech Republic and the ASP President are calling for universality, or full state membership, of the International Criminal Court. They have launched JOIN campaign with a video which features a number of foreign and justice ministers encouraging States not yet party to ratify/accede to the Statute.

Read more about JOIN

 

Judicial nomination period extended until 30 July

With nominations for elections for six spots on the ICC judges' bench falling just short during the regular nominations period between 24 April and 16 July, ICC member states received until 30 July to put forward additional candidates. Here's the nomination breakdown so far.

 

ICC investigations

Darfur, Sudan: Sudanese authorities have been accused of restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly after blockading over 1,000 Darfuri students protesting the expulsion of several colleagues from their university.

DRC: While wanted militia leader, Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, who has been implicated in numerous atrocities in eastern DRC, surrendered, Bosco Ntaganda, testifying in his defense at the ICC, denied personally and indirectly executing insubordinate rebel fighters as commander of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia.

Kenya: Tensions appear to be running high among certain communities on the ground with fears that a disputed poll in the August elections could spark a fresh wave of post-election violence.

Libya: Several human rights organizations have demanded justice in Libya in response to reports of summary executions by the Libyan National Army, smuggling and human trafficking of migrants, and an ICC suspect who continues to walk free.

Mali: The ICC has scheduled a public hearing on 17 August to deliver its reparations order in the case of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, who pled guilty to co-perpetrating attacks against historical and religious buildings in Timbuktu.

Reactions to Timbuktu destruction trial

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Colombia: According to the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), human rights defenders remain at risk in Colombia amid persistent paramilitary structures, impunity and limited responsiveness from the State.

Nigeria: An organization has filed a communication at the ICC claiming that the governor of Taraba state did not do enough to prevent a clash between the Nguroje and Mambilla Plateau communities in which over 300 people were reportedly killed.

Afghanistan: As Amnesty International denounced the recent Kabul bombing as a war crime, a UN report has revealed that Afghan women are increasingly suffering from, and victims to, the ongoing conflict.

Who has been calling for a faster Afghan probe?

 

Campaign for Global Justice

An African think tank has urged the Ghanaian administration to prioritize the domestication of the ICC Bill to enable the Court to try cases that national courts themselves cannot.

Turkey is facing increasing international pressure after the European Commission joined civil society in demanding the release of six detained human rights defenders.

The president of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers has pledged that the newly-established institution will be free of ethnic bias and will seek to properly protect witnesses in trying former Kosovo Liberation Army members.

Several Syrian ex-detainees have provided witness testimony accusing President Bashar al-Assad of torture in prisons as part of a landmark case filed by Coalition member the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR).

HOW HAS CIVIL SOCIETY BEEN SUPPORTING LIFE AFTER TORTURE?

 

Around the world

FIDH has called for violence against Bangladesh's Santal indigenous community to be addressed, stating "as long as law enforcement officials are not held accountable [...], nobody is safe”.

While eyes are on Kenya ahead of its August elections, multiple allegations have emerged of political violence against the MDC-T opposition party in Zimbabwe, another country with important elections in its midst.

Video footage shot by Human Rights Watch purports to reveal a systematic and violent crackdown on Venezuelans protesting the government's growing authoritarianism, in violation of their human rights.

The organization also accused French police of abuses against Calais migrants, with claims of arbitrary and unnecessary use of pepper spray on non-violent children and adults.

How can the ICC help eliminate sexual violence in conflict?

 

Which #GlobalJustice stories caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comment box below, or tweet us @ngos4justice.