#GlobalJustice Weekly - Gambia's Barrow backs ICC | Australian refugee crimes? | Conflict-driven famine looms


Barrow confirms Gambia's commitment to ICC

In a televised address this week, new Gambian President Adama Barrow reiterated his administration's support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), indicating that he had written to the United Nations Secretary General last month of his intention to reverse his predecessor's decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, the Court's founding treaty. 

Update: UN acknowledges of Gambia's official "Withdrawal of Notification of Withdrawal," effective from 10 February

"As a new government that has committed itself to the promotion of human rights ... we reaffirm The Gambia's commitment to the principles enshrined in the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court," said President Barrow.

The decision heralds The Gambia’s important recommitment to the fight against impunity through the Rome Statute system of international justice and rule of law, and underlines continuing support for the ICC among many African states.

“As one of his first acts in office, President Adama Barrow’s letter to the UN Secretary-General of The Gambia’s decision to reverse withdrawal from the ICC is a crucial development for victims of grave crimes and the rule of law,” said the Coalition’s Africa Coordinator Clément Capo-Chichi. “Democratically-elected and backed by the community of West African states, the new president has sent an important signal to the world that human rights are central to his new administration and that international justice continues to matter in Africa. We urge South Africa and Burundi to follow The Gambia’s lead in returning to the ICC fold and putting victims first.”

With authorities already investigating unresolved deaths and disappearances under the previous administration, can the Gambian example serve as an example for crisis-stricken South Sudan?

ICC asked to probe Australia's treatment of refugees

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor this week received a submission on how Australia’s offshore immigration detention regime in Manus and Nauru could constitute a crime against humanity. A 108-page legal communication from the Global Legal Action Network (Glan) and the Stanford International Human Rights Clinic was submitted to the court, detailing what the network describes as the “harrowing practices of the Australian state and corporations towards asylum seekers.”

Conflict-driven famine looms in four countries, experts warn

Conflict coupled with an overwhelmed humanitarian system has left tens of millions in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia on the brink of famine in 2017, experts warned this week. In South Sudan in particular, all factions in the civil war have been accused of using hunger as a weapon of war. Similar tactics involving water supplies to civilians were reported in Syria as recently as January 2017.

In Yemen alone, where a child under the age of five reportedly dies from hunger and disease every five minutes, the UN is calling for 2.1 billion USD in international assistance. Overall, the UN has requested 22 billion for humanitarian responses in 2017.

With conflict driving a global humanitarian crisis, and doors increasingly closed to refugees, how can international justice factor into a sustainable solution?

ICC Investigations

Georgia: In a new report, Human Rights Centre (HRIDC) suggests little possibility for Russian cooperation in ongoing ICC investigations of the 2008 war

DRC: The domestic prosecution of Congolese warlord Germain Katanga – on different charges than those in his ICC conviction – resumed this week

Libya: UN Secretary-General and Saudi Arabia discuss  possible political solutions for Arab world conflicts, including in Libya

Preliminary Examinations

Afghanistan: 2016 saw the highest civilian casualties, including more than 3,500 children, in 15 years. Considering a recent UN report that suggests both Taliban and NATO responsibility, were these violations largely preventable? Nearly 600,000 Afghan refugees have meanwhile been victims of an alleged Pakistan government campaign of forced repatriation – it is reportedly the world’s largest mass forced return in recent years. What dangers do refugees face returning to Afghanistan?

Palestine: Could blocking medical supplies from entering the Gaza Strip constitute a crime against humanity? Meanwhile, a new Israeli settlement law has some claiming apartheid as local rights groups oppose the law in court

Colombia: UN Secretary-General welcomes peace talks between government and second major rebel group. What role do bananas have in Colombia’s peace process?

Iraq/UK: Could the permanent shutdown of the UK team tasked with investigating allegations of abuse by UK soldiers from 2003-09 threaten complete, independent investigations?

Campaign for Global Justice

What are the prospects of justice for Syria in the face of continuing atrocities? Former US war crimes ambassador says there is stronger proof of war crimes committed by Assad than there was in Nuremberg

Researchers highlight  long-term psychological consequences for victims of wartime sexual violence; note that helping victims seek justice is one way to begin moving forward 

Amid hype of an African Union ICC withdrawal strategy, new Gambian president announces intention to rejoin the ICC in a move strengthening international justice efforts

As the fight against impunity continues and international courts loom, are dictators are running out of places to hide?

On International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, world leaders reiterated their commitment, vowing to intensify efforts against the recruitment and use of children in conflict

Concerns over lack of attention to victims of the 1998-99 Kosovo conflict, many of whom still remain internally displaced, missing or otherwise affected by the conflict in some way

Around the World

Civil society groups welcome Nepal’s extension of commissions on truth and reconciliation and investigating enforced disappearances, but insist legal reforms must follow

Sri Lanka to petition the UN for more time to investigate alleged war crimes and missing peoples from the country’s 26-year civil war

Continuing criticism from all corners over South Sudanese president Salva Kiir’s alleged ethnic cleansing campaign, with even a senior army general resigning in protest