November 2, 2016
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International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan which could “expose U.S. personnel to international justice inquiry for the first time” Prosecutor Bensuda has stated that she plans to open the investigation sometime after the U.S. presidential election but before the end of the year. According to Foreign Policy – unnamed U.S. officials have already begin voicing their concern regarding this investigation. The ICC’s current scope of evidence is not sufficient enough to bring charges against U.S.
ICC Prosecutor Bensuda
officials currently, although this may change. David Bosco of Foreign Policy argues that in order for the ICC to make the connection between war crimes in Afghanistan and U.S. official culpability would be to link conflict in Afghanistan with U.S. detention policies. Most shockingly, the ICC would have to demonstrate that the U.S. justice system as proven ineffective in handling allegations of torture amongst its own citizens.
This comes at a particularly interesting time considering the mass exodus by African nations out of the ICC in response to feeling that they are specifically targeted while Western powers and other areas of the world go unchecked. While an investigation into Afghanistan and U.S. involvement might provide at least a demonstration of the court’s willingness to look elsewhere aside from Africa, it will prove extremely difficult to garner cooperation from U.S. or Afghan officials. This is an inherent drawback of the court. If the court is truly prosecuting both sides of a conflict equally it will likely make many enemies, especially as it is still young and struggling to establish and hold on to its legitimacy.
October 27, 2016
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Burundi first announced its plans to withdraw from the ICC on October 7th. Since then other African countries have begun the dissent into abandoning this international institution. Most recently, Gambia has announced its intentions to withdraw from the ICC. Interestingly, the current ICC prosecutor, prosecutor Bensuda, is a Gambian native. The Gambia is only the third African country to pull out of the ICC – the second being South Africa – but the trend still appears upsetting. USA Today quotes Gambia’s Information Minister, Sheriff Bojang, re-interpreting the goals of the ICC as “an International Caucasian Court for the persecution and humiliation of people of color, especially Africans” (Onyanga-Omar, 26th October, 2016). The calls to retreat from the ICC have been, many believe, in response to the ICC’s issued arrest warrant for Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir.
Burundi initially wanted to withdraw its support and participation in the court as a result of the court stating it would investigate the ongoing political violence there. South Africa’s decision to leave stems from its uncomfortableness with the requirement that any ICC state party must hand over a leader who has an arrest warrant out by the ICC. This provision was outlined in the initial signing of the Rome Statute and is not a new development. African countries have – to date – been the only countries prosecuted at the ICC. Bensuda is currently investigating nine potential future cases, seven of which are not in the African continent. Still, the feeling of white Western powers infiltrating and involving themselves in African affairs runs deep. Kenya and Nambia have indicated they may follow the initiative set by Burundi, South Africa, and now Gambia.
October 18, 2016
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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 inquirer.net 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.
September 27, 2016
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Monday evening, September 26th Farc leader, Rodrigo Londono (aka. Timochenko) apologized to victims of the armed conflict in Colombia during the signing of the new peace deal. The history of the conflict in Colombia stems from the Cold War. The major players involved in signing the peace deal were the Farc (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) – the predominant rebel guerrilla group in the country – and the Colombian government. The group has existed since 1964 and represents the armed wing of the Communist party. Their primary technique in war has been guerrilla warfare in rural areas.
2012 initiated the start of public peace talks in Havana which have culminated in the peace deal established yesterday evening. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry attended the very ceremonious occasion. All dignitaries in attendance were dressed in white to symbolize peace. A pen constructed from a bullet was used to further exemplify the aspirations for peace behind the deal. Timochenko assured Colombia and the world that his group would be hanging up their guns for good and even asked for forgiveness in his apology to the victims of his crimes. Serious questions remain about the practicality of a new peace in democracy without holding the perpetrators legally accountable.
The deal prescribes political party status for the Farc meaning that the now former rebel group will take part in the 2018 legislative elections. In accordance with the deal, the group will be afforded a minimum of ten seats in the legislature for the first two Congressional sessions. There exists a faction within Colombia that remain distrustful of the Farc and are angry that members of the rebel force will be allowed to participate in Congress without first serving jail time for their crimes.
In an interview with BBC President Manuel Santos notes that the peace process has been centered around the needs of the eight million victims created by the 50 year war. The interviewer notes that two former Colombian presidents denounce the deal as “virtual amnesty”. Santos insists that impunity does not exist. He continues that the process has involved truth and reparations on an unprecedented scale to work to amend the wrongdoing. Santos describes the mentality of the negotiations on his part which insisted on “maximum justice that will allow us peace” (Santos, 2016). The next phase will be the most difficult in terms of reconstructing the culture, values, and social network of Colombia. Santos admits that the process will not be easy and may take many years; however, he appears optimistic for the countries future and proud of the restorative work his government has initiated.