International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

South Africa Withdraws from ICC

France International News released a report today stating that South Africa constructed their “Instrument of Withdrawal” to leave the International Criminal Court.  This event follows Burundi’s request for withdrawal just this week.  Warnings have been issued by the UN Human Rights council that Burundi has committed crimes against humanity, which may lead to genocide in the near future.  zuma-and-bashirSouth Africa’s government said that their withdrawal would be the last course of action following their refusal to arrest President al-Bashir of Sudan.  They failed to acknowledge their legal responsibility of arresting President al-Bashir after the ICC released a warrant for his arrest, instead assisting him in leaving their country back to the safety of Sudan.  President al-Bashir is guilty of crimes against humanity in the Darfur conflict.  South Africa has yet to formally submit their withdrawal to the UN Secretary General, but plan to submit it soon. Their withdrawal most likely falls in line with the African Union’s disagreement of the ICC wanting to prosecute state leaders.

African States Threaten to Leave ICC

Some African states that have signed the Rome Statute to the ICC are now considering leaving the ICC.  Controversy over the ICC has started to accumulate over the years from some states that the ICC of Western Imperialism, anti-african bias, and neo-colonialism.  Burundi has recently passed a bill signed by the President to withdraw from the ICC, but hasn’t written a letter yet to the Secretary General to notify him of their withdrawal.  Negative influence from Libya and Sudan have also impacted African states stance on the ICC.  However there is still strong support from other African states such as Botswana and Democratic Republic of Congo to stay with the ICC.

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In the midst of the biggest case of civil unrest to hit the country in twenty-five years, the Ethiopian government has struggled to deal with the growing number of protesters lining the streets. These protests began nearly a year ago last November in Oromia, and more recently in the Amhara region, which are the homelands of the country’s two most predominant ethnic groups. Tensions originally came to fruition in response to the government’s approach to development, but later continued with a resonating focus on longstanding abuses and discrimination of  historic proportions. The Human Rights Watch reported that protesters have been working “to express discontent over the ruling party’s dominance in government affairs, the lack of rule of law, and grave human rights violations for which there has been no accountability.” – and they are looking for the world to listen.

Most recently, the government declared a six-month state of emergency in a effort to maintain security in the affected areas. Under these circumstances, it has been stated that individuals may be detained without a warrant for their arrest. If that’s not a human rights abuse, I don’t know what is.

DR Congo’s Bemba found guilty of witness/evidence corruption

19th October 2016.


DR Congo’s former vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba was recently found guilty of bribing witnesses and corrupting/falsifying evidences that were presented to him during his trial. Additionally, his lawyer Aime Kilolo; his legal case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda; Congolese politician Fidele Babala and Narcisse Arido have also been found guilty for this. His lawyer, Kilolo bribed witnesses and forced them to give scripted confessions that would help Bemba’s case while Mangenda was found guilty of exchanging messages and and hide these plans. Additionally Babala was charged with handling the bribes and money transfers, etc and Arido forced witnessed to pose as soldiers by giving them fake military insignia. Not only is this the first corruption case in the Hague but the lawyers will be sentenced  and may even face up to five years in prison for this act. As of now it is unclear whether this will affect Bemba’s appeal to be released early as he is still serving time after being jailed last June for his crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Bemba Found Guilty


In the ICC, Jean-Pierre Bemba, a well connected businessman and former Vice President of the DRC was found guilty of witness tampering in his trial on October 19th. Bemba, convicted of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity for action in the Central African Republic, who is serving the remainder of his 18- year sentence, was not the only one indicted. Four others were found guilty, including his lawyer, his case manager, a Congolese politician and a witness for the defense. Bemba masterminded the witness corruption during his original trial by use of phones and coded language. Ultimately manipulating 14 key witnesses in his trial. The four indicted and convicted along with Bemba, are charged with more than 100 crimes, and could face up to five years in jail. No information yet if or how much Bemba’s sentence will be lengthened. This is the first case of corruption that the ICC has faced.

Discontent on the African Continent

Mills’ article, “Bashir is Dividing US” addresses the fraught and complex relationship between African states and the International Criminal Court.

Here a few questions to help guide you through the article. You can provide responses to any of the questions in the comments – an informal study guide for everyone. (A response will count as  post for the week)

icc-africa-leaders1) Despite their initial support for the ICC, what arguments do African states present against the ICC?

2) How has the African Union presented challenges and obstacles to the ICC? How do they want it reformed?

3) Mills contends that the unity of opposition to the ICC in Africa is a “façade”? What does he mean by this? And what types of tensions are reflected in the “arguments” among African states?

4) Are there other examples of African states conflicting with the ICC recently?

ICC: Bosco Ntaganda Case


Bosco Ntaganda, otherwise known as, “The Terminator” is a case that is still going on in the ICC today. Ntaganda was a rebel leader, and a general in the DRC army. The DRC is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and they are under investigation with the ICC for the millions of deaths that have been recorded and for what is being called “Africa’s World War.” Ntaganda is being accused of 13 counts of war crimes. These war crimes include murder, rape displacement, enlisting child soldiers, as well as others.He is also being charged with  counts of crimes against humanity. He is being accused of direct perpetration, indirect perpetration, ordering, inducing, ect. Ntaganda is a “big fish” and the ICC was created to make these “big fish” liable for their actions. Part one of this process is done, they have successfully brought Ntaganda in for a trial. However, the second step is crucial and that is successfully proving Ntaganda guilty and sentencing him to jail time. If this case is a success I believe that this would be a huge stepping stone for the ICC and it would show other “big fish” that just because they have a lot of power, doesn’t mean they can do whatever they please.

Destruction of Protected Buildings is a War Crime


The ICC’s first ever case prosecuting an individual for the war crime of attacking protected objects, like religious and historic monuments, involved charges brought against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi in the northwestern African country of Mali. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi is a member of a Tuareg Islamic extremist militia and in this case is responsible for the intentional destruction of ten religious and historic sites in Timbukti, Mali. These sites include nine mausoleums and one mosque. Attacks on these types of buildings constitute “protected” under the law because they are considered a significant part of the cultural heritage of Timbuktu and Mali. Ahmad Al-Mahdi was charged with the co-perpetration of this destruction, and his charges were significant because of his specific intent of targeting these places due to their religious and historical identity. The impact of this crime on the local community was extensive; destruction of mausoleums and mosques is extremely disrespectful against the Islamic culture.

Although the building destruction occurred throughout June and July of 2012, the warrant for his arrest was not issued until September 18, 2015. The situation was referred to the ICC by the Mali government on July 13, 2012, and the investigation began in January of 2013. This case is unique in that it is the first case to prosecute perpetrators for destructing protected buildings, compared to attacks against civilians. Additionally, another unique aspect of this case is that it is one of the only instances where the defendant pleaded guilty before the ICC. It only took eight days from the initial issuing of his warrant to Ahmad Al-Mahdi’s surrender, which occurred on September 26, 2015. The authorities of Niger are responsible for surrendering him to the ICC and transferring him to The Hague. The trial lasted from August 22 to the 24 of 2016, where Ahmad Al-Mahdi pleaded guilty. The final verdict was reached in September which determined his unanimous guilt as a co-perpetrator in the alleged war crime and he was sentenced to nine years imprisonment (minus the time he has already spent in detention since his arrest in 2015). This conviction was celebrated by many within the community of Mali as progress made towards ending impunity for attacks on heritage and cultural cleansing. However, some society members also criticize the Court for failing to prosecute other crimes, like rape and murder, which also occurred during the 2012 Mali conflict.

Boko Haram Releases Female Students

The Islamic militant group, Boko Haram, has begun releasing the girls abducted in a school located in the town of Chibok. This mass abduction is what sparked the public protest of many celebrities back in the year 2014.  There have been clashing reports about the abuses carried out on these girls.  The chairman of the Chibok Development Association, Pogu Bitrus, told The Guardian that the girls were “used as domestic workers and porters, [but] they were not sexually abused.”  Other reports have been issued over the years claiming sexual abuse for those abducted, and a commander of Boko Haram released a claim saying those who were abducted were forced to marry the group’s leaders.


Despite the Nigerian government working on the release of the abducted girls, many are refusing or afraid to return home to Chibok.  There is a huge stigma placed on these girls leading to poor reception once they return home.  People from their community shame them for being “Boko Haram wives” viewing them as tained and impure, even those who were abducted and forced to join the group. Bitrus stated that it would be ideal for the released victims to receive the remainder of their education abroad in order to avoid the discrimination from their community.

The rise of Boko Haram started with their original leader, Mohammed Yusuf.  Yusuf grew up in poverty, begging on the streets in order to survive.  The name Boko Haram translates to english as “Western education is forbidden.” According to an article published by The Guardian, Boko Haram’s many crimes include, “killing police and soldiers, they slaughtered scores of civilians who were caught out in the open, slitting their throats like animals.” Even though Yusuf was eventually killed, the group continues to commit atrocities directed towards the government and civilians. Thousands have been killed, leaving millions displaced.


What’s going on at the ICC?

Some of the ICC’s trials are pretty high profile in the international justice and human rights world. As a suggestion for blog posts, write a post to update the class on what’s going on with a particular trial. Explain why the case/trial is significant, or controversial, or how their local communities are reacting to the trials?

Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda looks on during his first appearance before judges at the International Criminal Court in the Hague

Options for current and recent trials at the ICC:

Bosco Ntaganda (Congo)

Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude (Cote d’Ivoire)

Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi (Mali)

Burundi investigation

Syria’s First Lady Turns Down Chance to Flee War Torn Country

Asma al-Assad first lady of Syria was offered guaranteed protection and financial security if she and her children fled Syria.  Mrs. Assad turned down the offer stating to the Russian press that they weren’t concerned about her and her children but it was a political move to undermine her husband. Asma al-Assad is 41 years old and born in Britain, before marrying Assad she was an investment banker.   She also told Russian reporters that “I’ve been here since the beginning and I never thought about being anywhere else at all”.

NPR audio interview with last living Nuremberg Prosecutor

Death Toll in the Philippines Rises


Concerns over the death toll in the Philippines is rising within the ICC. ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda noted that their office is diligently looking for signs of officials colluding to execute the vast number of killings currently taking place. The Japan Times cited 3,000 deaths of drug suspects within the last three months alone. President Duterte has reportedly condoned these killings publicly, even suggesting that he would if necessary support killing more individuals related to drug offenses than Jews were killed in Hitler’s Germany.  Ramon Tulfo of the reported a quote from Bensouda which she issued recently:

Let me be clear: any person in the Philippines who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner, to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC is potentially liable to prosecution before the court (18 October, 2016)


The killings of individuals in the state’s so-called “war on drugs” may not constitute the crimes under jurisdiction in the ICC. Unless a prosecutor can prove that these sanctioned crimes fall into a category of genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity – bringing a case may be difficult.


Crimes Against Refugees in Nauru

“On Nauru, the Australian government runs an open-air prison designed to inflict as much suffering as necessary to stop some of the world’s most vulnerable people from trying to find safety in Australia,” said Anna Neistat, Amnesty International’s Senior Director for Research

Nauru has a population of 10,000 people, and with approximately 1,159 asylum seekers and refugees (third highest proportion of refugees per capita). Out of these asylum seekers, 410 are held in the Refugee Processing Center where they are driven to suicide because of the conditions they live in, which Amnesty claims is torture.

Not only are the people in the Center the target of abuse, but also those who live among the population. Dozens have experienced physical attacks some that include sexual assault. One incident includes, a refugee family that moved into the community have been repeatedly attacked in their homes and have had their property destroyed.
Until now, no Nauru citizens are held accountable for their actions; instead many refugees have been arrested and imprisoned. “Arbitrary arrests as a form of intimidation are common on Nauru.”

The community in Nauru also do not care about refugees well being. Many people have been discharged from the hospital when they are clearly still sick. Many are experiencing deteriorating mental health, and doctors are not prescribing the right medication to help them. “Amnesty said that 58 detainees, or about 15 percent of the total on Nauru, to whom it spoke for its report, had either attempted suicide or have had thoughts about harming themselves.”

It is interesting how a government will go to great lengths to stop people from seeking refugee in their country. Australian government believes that they need to set harsh rules to those who want to enter their country, they will try everything in their power to deter them.

Vigilante Justice in Ukraine?

pavlov1Pro-Russian rebel leader, Arsen Pavlov, was assassinated this weekend, leading to further uproar in the country. Rebel members suspect the assassination was the work of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. Pavlov is accused many war crimes, including killing prisoners of war on multiple occasions, leaving many people rejoicing about his death. However, his rebel members describe the assassination as an “act of terrorism” and feel that the government of Ukraine has now declared war on them. While Pavlov’s rebel group is convinced this was an act by the government, there are many groups that could have perpetrated this crime. Even still, this killing violates the ceasefire order, creating heavy tension and fighting throughout eastern Ukraine. While killing Pavlov means he will never be able to be tried for his war crimes, many leaders and groups believe he got what he deserved.

A New Threat in Nigeria

Nigeria is currently suffering, what is believed to be, the world’s largest humanitarian disaster. It is “a famine unlike any we have ever seen.” Over three million people have been internally displaced, two million of which are still inaccessible to government agencies wishing to provide aid. However, even those individuals living in areas of the region that have been allegedly “liberated” from the insurgents are not receiving the amount of aid required for their own survival, let alone their children. But the suffering has been compounded by institutional failures i.e. the UN’s fatal underestimation of the scale of this disaster. And now that the world has realized the country’s own state authorities are not equipped to handle it alone, it has been nearly impossible to catch up.

The Monsanto Tribunal


tribunal_logoOften termed the Dictator in the agricultural world, Monsanto, a transnational corporation based in the U.S is being put on trail by large groups like the Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, IFOAM International Organics, etc. along with many global food, farming and organic organisations. These organisations accuse the company for their crimes against humanity and ecocide by the Hague from the 14th-16th October (World Food Day.)


The Monsanto Tribunal was opened because of their impact on the environment as well as their effects on farmers. Although they claim to be a “sustainable agriculture company” they have highly changed agriculture in America and globally and the products of this have also led to many new biological defects and health concerns for their consumers due to their genetically modified traits and the chemicals used to produce them. The GMOs also give Monsanto power to control food production and supplies in countries which could be seen as a human right violation as the company is controlling food supplies of countries.


In developing countries like India, many farmers are fooled into buying GMOs from this company for high costs, causing many to take debts, etc. However, these seeds not only fail to produce crops and profit but have also caused a significant change in the quality of soil, declining biodiversity and even species extinction. These factors have also led to many suicide cases of farmers, who have purchased these GMOs and failed to reap the benefits of it. Monsanto has been one of the reasons for many suicide cases of farmers and this occupation has one of the highest suicide rates both in the US and in India.


This tribunal is different compared to others because usually most tribunals are held because of human atrocities and crimes and agricultural and environmental issues are not usually seen as crimes worth holding tribunals for. The tribunal will be held on the 16th of October and will be streamed online for the world to watch.

Is Maldives’ Democracy in Jeopardy?


The state of Maldives only recently turned democratic in 2008.  Its recent withdrawal from the Commonwealth along with accusations of human rights violations could lead to a collapse of their democratic system. The Guardian released an article stating the Commonwealth’s concerns over Maldives’ corruption.  There have been accusations of money laundering and “further evidence of curbing fundamental rights, targeted persecution of opposition leaders [and] misuse of state institutions (including the judiciary, legislature and the police) to restrict, crush and punish dissent” found by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.  Many opposing individuals of the current government have been detained or prosecuted.

News outlets and NGOs located in Maldives have been raided by government officials after negative reports were released about the current president, Abdulla Yameen. Journalists who publish allegations against the president are often accused of crimes such as terrorism.  The current editor of The Maldivian Independent stated in her interview, “We’ve had one of our journalists disappear, a machete attack on our door, and our security cameras vandalised, so we’ve had to relocate once before. It’s not a safe place for journalists at all.” This type of media reporting is now considered a criminal offense in Maldives, which has been criticized by the UN as limiting their freedom of expression. With such strict government control and corruption, as well as a growing number of individuals leaving the country to join the fight in Syria, the democratic government could collapse.

What kind of justice for Colombians?

Have a read through this Monkey Cage (Washington Post) blog post: “Colombians rejected ‘transitional justice’ for guerrillas. They want criminal justice instead.”


Feel free to share your thoughts on what you think is interesting about this article, what you agree and disagree with, etc. Here are some questions to help…

How does the author distinguish between the concepts of transitional versus criminal justice? If they are different, what are the risks of pursuing only transitional or only criminal justice?

Do you agree that these should be separate needs for victims? How do you think transitional versus criminal justice affects “reconciliation”?

Can you find other blog posts or news articles that deal with similar issues?

Burundi Withdraws From the ICC

Burundi voted today to withdraw from the ICC in a vote of 94 out of the 110 members.  They probably voted for this because of the investigations that the ICC has already started on the crimes that Burundi have possibly committed. “According to the UN, at least 564 people have been killed and more than 300,000 have fled the country, most of them to refugee camps in neighbouring Rwanda and Tanzania.” People are now worried that this may lead to the victims not getting the justice they deserve. It was already hard enough before. Burundi had already declared three UN officers unwelcome in Burundi. The ICC will now have a harder time on their investigation.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs


President Duterte of the Philippines has continued his war on drugs by officially banning smoking cigarettes in all public locations or face a fine in violation. Now this doesn’t seem that bad, but Duterte has only been in office since June 30, 2016 and already over 3,500 people have been killed. This is because Duterte is waging war on both drug dealer and drug users. In September, Duterte gave a speck likening himself to Hitler, and saying “Hitler massacred three million Jews … there’s three million drug addicts. There are. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Duterte has been working out eliminate all drug dealers and user in the Philippines and has given his support to the civilian population to kill the addict and drug dealers themselves, with the promise they will not be prosecuted. Many have come out to criticize Duterte for his remarks, Ronald Lauder, the World Jewish Congress President and Phil Robertson who is the Asia deputy director for Human Rights Watch. Duterte is entering dangerous grounds,which could get him tried by the ICC, for a president just past his first 100 days.

Duterte’s “War On Drugs”

President Duterte is plainly committing genocide, which he admitted to do so, “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews,” he said. (The actual number is 6 million). “Now … there’s 3 million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” to “finish the problem of my country and save the next generation from perdition.” He wants to promise the citizens that he will be able to successfully demolish drugs from the country, but instead what he is doing is unleashing people to kill.rodrigo-duterte-philippine-national-police-getty-640x480

100 days after Rodrigo Duterte was elected president, a wave of carnage has claimed over 3,000 lives in the Philippines. Over 1500 have been killed by police operations against illegal drugs and over 2000 by unknown assailants.

His statements have actively created a climate where anybody can kill or be killed in the name of the “war on drugs”. He has encouraged the killings of drug addicts themselves, and is offering awards for those who can turn in drug lords, dead or alive. He has given them the free reign to kill with impunity and has publicized kill lists, which include congress members, military, police etc..

The problem is many can see this as an excuse to kill anybody. Amnesty is reporting that a 5 year old girl was shot down by two men on motor bikes because of “mistaken identity”. This is obviously just an excuse, as 5 year old can not possibly be a drug lord. Over 600,000 people have turned themselves in, and are now in crowded cages that operate like concentration camps. He is demolishing key aspects of human right’s, which include the right to life.


So why has the world remained silent? In fact the US just donated $32 million in aid to support the Philippine law enforcement. The main obvious reason is because we dehumanize those who use drugs and we see their deaths to be acceptable as apart of the “war on drugs”. This is a sad reality that we are facing; unfortunately many innocents are also hurt in the process, not that it is just to kill drug users either.

More Pictures Here

The US Knew Helping Saudis in Yemen Could be a War Crime

After another billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia was approved this past week, “renewed scrutiny” of a similar deal made last year has surfaced. On Monday, Reuters published a report on last year’s deal made by the Obama administration, “despite warnings that it could implicate the US in war crimes.

On Saturday, Saudi led airstrikes in Yemen killed at least 140 people. This “prompted” a review by the US on its support of the Saudi Arabia’s efforts. US National Security Council spokesman stated regarding Saturday’s airstrikes that US support of Saudi Arabia is not a ‘blank check’. The US did press Saudis to limit civilian damage and “provided lists” of areas not to bomb. However, government lawyers “stopped short of concluding” that US support would fund Saudi war crimes because it could open the US to accountability.

Amnesty in Syria


aleppoPictured above is Aleppo in Syria today. President Assad has offered amnesty to the rebel groups and their families who have taken up arms in Aleppo, if they surrender. The rebel groups denied that they have intentions to leave Aleppo and surrender. Claims have been made that the amnesty is just a trick by the government to lure the group out of the last city they have control over at this time. There were also statements from Washington that claimed it is hard to believe that after all the conflict that has happened the government is now choosing to look after the interest of civilians. Sources also stated that due to the bombardments of missiles from the Russian and Syrian forces the rebel forces holding in Aleppo could fall within “weeks if not days”.

Universities in Cape Town Closed Due to Protesting Students


Several universities throughout Cape Town, South Africa are closing for periods of time as a result of protesting students clashing with police authorities. The photo above shows students protesting outside of the University of Cape Town (UCT). I found this article particularly interesting because I will be studying abroad at UCT next semester, and this school was forced to shut down for the past two weeks due to the escalation of disruptions. Three other universities have suspended classes as well. These students are demanding lower tuition costs and better living conditions at the universities, especially for black students. Many statements made by students include how their complaints stem from the title “black academics” being given to the black students, but white students are not called “white academics”, just academics. Protesting students complain that their tax money paid to run the university is reinforcing white privilege. There are escalating instances of violence among the universities between protesters and police forces. Police have been firing rubber bullets and stun grenades at protesters. In one occasion, a large amount of students were brutalized, victimized and beaten by private security guards and police when they tried to collect their belongings from inside of a residence building after being asked to leave the premises. Students plan to continue with the protests, calling UCT a “white supremacy institution”.