Indigenous justice | Inaction in Syria

Catalina Sanchez testifies during the trial of former Guatemalan military dictator Rios Montt in 2013. Montt was on trial for genocide linked to the massacres of indigenous communities in the early 1980s. © Elena Hermosa

Protecting indigenous peoples: Empowering through justice

Ten years on from a key UN Declaration, 370 million indigenous people face rising exploitation, marginalization and oppression.

9 August marks the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, which this year serves as an opportunity to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

So how can the rights of indigenous peoples be protected within the Rome Statute system?

FIND OUT WHY THIS DAY MATTERS AND how the ICC can help.

 

Frustrations at inaction in Syria

A former Swiss attorney general has announced her decision to resign from the United Nations (UN) Commission of Inquiry in Syria, claiming that inaction from the Security Council has left the Commission "powerless" with "no possibility of seeking justice for the victims” of abuses in the country.

Carla Del Ponte joined the Commission, charged with investigating human rights violations and war crimes committed in Syria, in September 2012, having previously acted as a war crimes prosecutor for the international criminal tribunals of Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

The Commission had reportedly interviewed over 5,000 witnesses and amassed swathes of evidence purporting to show war crimes committed by all sides of the conflict, including the Syrian government. Last week, the Commission urged the international community to recognize ISIL's killing, sexual slavery, torture and forcible displacement of minority Yazidis as genocide and bring it before the ICC or an ad hoc tribunal, claiming the acts were continuing "largely unaddressed."

In announcing her resignation, Ms. Del Ponte voiced her frustation that the findings had not led to any concrete retribution for the perpetrators.

"I have no power as long as the Security Council does nothing," she stated, warning: “Justice must do its work because without justice because there is no real peace we know that from history."

She and other members of the investigative panel had made repeated calls to the Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but a bid to do so was blocked in 2014 by China and Russia, an ally of the Syrian government.

The news arrived as the UN prepares to launch its international impartial independent mechanism (IIIM) to investigate serious crimes in Syria after voting on its establishment in December 2016.

Responding to Del Ponte's announcement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was said to regret her decision but reaffirmed the importance of the Commission's work, stating that accountability takes time and ”information needs to be gathered in a way that will stand up wherever and whatever circumstances people will have to face justice."

 

ICC investigations

Darfur, Sudan: Human rights defenders have been angered at the recent visit of Sudanese president and ICC suspect Omar al-Bashir to Morocco and his anticipated trip to Russia, as researchers warn that the conflict in Darfur is far from over.

Uganda: ICC prosecutors have endorsed 121 witnesses, among them forced wives, to testify at the Court against former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen.

CAR: The UN has called for more peacekeeping forces to be distributed in the country, fearing apparent "early warning signs of genocide."

DRC: A Congolese male rape survivor has come forward to describe his ordeal, with an NGO attributing the low numbers of men reporting the crime to a restricted domestic definition of rape in contrast to the broader provisions of the Rome Statute.

Georgia: Hundreds of Georgians have gathered near South Ossetia to protest Russia's occupation region, claiming "the war did not finish in 2008 - it continues every day."

Georgia - A unique case for the Court

 

ICC preliminary examinations

Burundi: The UN Security Council has reaffirmed its intention to "pursue targeted measures" against all relevant parties in the country as reports of torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings continue to rise.

Nigeria: The fight against Boko Haram is facing a new challenge as volunteers with the Civilian Joint Task Force, aimed at combatting the militant group, are reportedly opting to leave.

Palestine: Human Rights Watch has claimed that Israel's revoking of the residence status of 14,595 Palestinians in occupied east Jerusalem could constitute forced transfers and war crimes under the Rome Statute. 

Afghanistan: An inquiry is examining allegations that an Australian SAS soldier unlawfully executed an Afghan businessman during a 2011 raid, while around 50 civilians have been killed in a recent insurgent attack on a village.

The search for justice in Iraq and Afghanistan

 

Campaign for Global Justice

An exhibition has opened at the Holocaust Museum in Washington to commemorate efforts to hold perpetrators of genocide accountable through court proceedings, including the 2002 establishment of the ICC.

Switzerland has expanded its criminal proceedings against former Gambian interior minister Ousman Sonko by three months in order to dig deeper into allegations of crimes against humanity against him.

The US military has opened a formal inquiry into allegations made by Amnesty International of torture being carried out by US-backed Cameroonian troops against suspected terrorists.

Why justice is needed in central and east Africa

 

Around the world

A Myanmar government-led inquiry has concluded that no crimes against humanity were committed against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, amid claims from rights groups that the commission lacked transparency and credibility.

Questions have been raised as to the UN's zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse after a recent AFP investigation revealed 2,000 allegations, between 2004 and 2016 of related crimes committed by UN peacekeepers.

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