International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Cold Blooded Killers

Amnesty International has stated that it has gathered evidence, that men dressed in Iraqi federal police uniforms have tortured and killed residents of different villages in south of Mosul.

Researchers from Amnesty visited several villages in the Al-Sura and Al- Qayyara sub-districts of Ninewa governorate, southwest and south of Mosul. They found evidence that indicated up to six people were “extrajudicially” executed in late October, (the sixth man was apparently shot dead as he ran towards forces that included men in police uniform while pulling up his clothes to show that he had no explosives). The reasoning behind this killing was apparently due to suspicions that the victims had ties with the Islamic State.

An Iraqi soldier stands next to detained men accused of being Islamic State fighters, at a check point in Qayyara, south of Mosul, Iraq“Deliberately killing captives and other defenceless individuals is prohibited by international humanitarian law and is a war crime. It is crucial that the Iraqi authorities carry out prompt, thorough, impartial and independent investigations into these crimes under international law, and bring those responsible to justice. Without effective measures to suppress and punish serious violations, there is a real risk that we could see war crimes of this kind repeated in other Iraqi villages and towns during the Mosul offensive.” Said Lynn Maalouf, Deputy Director for Research at Amnesty International (Beirut Regional Office).

Since the federal Police forces command has denied the accusation, they must investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. Amnesty is also asking Iraqi authorities to grantee protection to the families of the victims and witnesses. While the Iraqi authorities did deny taking part of the torture, there were a number of Iraqi forces present in, or passed through the villages during the time the crime was taking place. To further pressure the authorities, “all those killed were buried without autopsies after their corpses were found”. This is similar to burying the evidence.

Pro-government forces have launched an offensive operation to retake Mosul last month. About 50,000 Iraqi security forces personnel, soldiers, police, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are involved in the three-week operation.

US and International Justice

Is the US’ relationship with international justice good strategy, or unethical hypocrisy?

Should the United States join the International Criminal Court? What are the advantages and disadvantages for the ICC if the US were to join?

Let the debate begin…


Immigrant Crisis in Hungary


Members of Jobbik – the radical-right challengers to Mr Orban’s Fidesz party – held aloft a banner during the vote, reading: “The traitor is the one who allows terrorists into the country for money”

The Prime Minster of Hungary’s attempt to block the immigration of Syrian refugees into Hungary has failed. PM Viktor Orban’s referendum to block the 1,294 refugees that would be settled in Hungary based in the EU quota system, was shot down by Parliament. The referendum failed to gain the two- thirds majority needed for the bill to pass. The PM’s party, Fidez, is the majority party in parliament, but the second largest party abstained from voting. This abstention is biggest reason the referendum did not pass. The second- largest party, Jobbik, is anti immigration, but they abstained because they want the anti immigration ban to apply to all foreigners. The Jobbik want Orban to get rid of the policy that allows rich foreigners to buy residency in Hungary of $330,000. A policy that has already allowed a Saudi Citizen with ties to Osama Bin Laden and on the FBI most wanted list, to buy residency in Hungary. And thousands of other non-EU citizen have bought residency in Hungary through this policy. Orban has called this power display “blackmail”, and Jobbik has said that they are willing to support Orban’s referendum after he scraps the foreigner bonds.

Women to the Rescue

Nigeria may have more international criminal violations on its hands than just those actions of the Boko Haram extremist group. The Human Rights Watch group released a report last week that several women in Borno have been sexually assaulted and mistreated by security officers in the camps, where these women fled to escape the Boko Haram insurgency. Boko Haram has been accused of the forced displacements of thousands of people from their homes, as well as thousands of deaths and abductions. In response to the sexual assault allegations, the Nigerian state nigerian2barmypolice deployed 100 female officers to serve as security guards in the Borno camps, in the effort to better protect the women. President Buhari and other Nigerian officials called for the immediate investigation of such allegations. Nigeria is under preliminary investigations by the ICC for actions between Boko Haram and Nigerian Security officials.


African Nations Come in Support of ICC

With South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia all recently leaving the International Criminal Court, the international community began to worry that a trend could start among African nations. There have been accusations of the court having a biased against African nations due to the large amount of attention paid to the continent. To the outside world it is pretty clear that the attention was well deserved, perhaps less so in Africa. Image result for Africa ICCThere are those in Africa that believe they are being targeted by Western nations, and that they are not doing anything wrong. The ICC was created after the Rwandan genocide; aimed to prevent further atrocities from happening not only around the world, but in Africa where there are so many there are so many different tribes and ethnic groups. Seeing South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia leave the court causes major concerns. Luckily nations like the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, and many more have come out and said they have no intention of leaving the court. This is not just huge for the ICC itself, but mainly for the people in these countries that keep this level of deterrence from would be violations against them.

Assad Accuses the US of Supporting Terrorist Groups in Syria

According to President Assad, the US has been supporting terrorists in Syria in order to undermine the power of Russia and Iran. According to Assad all the ceasefires have failed because the US has been collaborating with the terrorists.  He blames the US for every failed attempt for a ceasefire or political initiative.  President Assad says that the US asks for a ceasefire whenever the terrorists are in a bad situation but not when the civilians are in need of support.  Assad believes that the US also gives supports to terrorist groups by using its allies like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.  The western media is mainly focused on the civilian suffering.  The White House uses this to justify more involvement in the war and whatever way they deem necessary according to Assad.

Justice in Ongoing Conflicts?

“Evaluating the pursuit of justice during ongoing conflict is crucial. What we may discover is that contrary to the mantra that justice delayed is justice denied, the most promising way to promote justice may be to postpone it” (Vinjamuri). This week’s reading discusses the controversy between the ICC issuing indictments in ongoing conflict situations and the effects this has on those states. While the ICC aims to prevent any further crimes from being committed, by issuing arrest warrants for elite perpetrators, they seem to be creating more of the violence they are trying to stop. States have begun to justify their lack of military intervention, by stating their support of criminal prosecutions, but only after the conflict has ended. This creates an issue of long-lasting violence, while peace agreements are discussed, but these often fail due to a lack of willingness to offer amnesties. While the ICC’s aim to prevent violence is apparent, their execution to do so has proven ineffective. In the interest of peace, waiting for justice until the conflict has ended appears to be the best strategy in ending the violence and achieving justice later on.


Uganda’s Human Rights Under Review

a-policemen-fires-a-teargas-canister-in-front-of-opposition-leader-kizza-besigyes-office-in-kampala-uganda-february-19-2016The United Nations Human Rights Council will be reviewing the Uganda’s human rights record tomorrow on 11/3/2016. This will be a usual occurrence as a part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. The UPR which was set up in 2006 is a review process which each member state of the UN receives the ability to have their human rights record reviewed. In addition they can speak to what actions they have taken to improve human rights in their state. However in this case it is important to see what the response will be of Uganda. In 2011 the state agreed to a variety of changes that the UN Human Rights Council offered additionally offering to prosecute those violating human rights. However the state has seemed to be relatively ignorant of human right abuses as well as perpetrating some of them. In February of 2016 police were videotaped beating and teargassing people gathered to listen to opposition candidates. But the abuse has not ended there, reporters have been arrested blatantly on air for trying to report on opposition candidates. Contrast to their pledge to prosecute and punish perpetrators it can be seen that no action has been taken even since killings in 2009 and 2011 of protesters and bystanders. The state has reported this year that they have opened up human rights offices and made efforts but it seems they have remained idle. It will remain to be seen what impact the United Nations Human Rights Council will have when reviewing the Ugandan state tomorrow. The state has disregarded the UN Nations Human Rights Council and its recommendations before, only time will tell if real change will occur after this year’s review process.

Photo:A policemen fires a teargas canister in front of opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s office in Kampala, Uganda, February 19, 2016.
© 2016 Reuters

The ICC begins to look away from Africa – towards the U.S.?

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 screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-10-15-07-amwillingness 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.


South Sudan’s peacekeeping chief fired over gross negligence

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has fired the peacekeeping chief in South Sudan after aid workers claimed that UN troops refused to respond when soldiers attacked an aid compound in July. This failure to act resulted in the death of a journalist and the rape of aid workers, and the deaths of at least 73 others in the three days of violence. Among the dead there were over 20 internally displaced people who had sought UN protection and two Peacekeepers. The Peacekeeping Chief was Kenyan Lt General Johnson Mogoa Kimani Ondieki, and Secretary General Ban has called for his immediate replacement. Because of inadequate leadership, the four battalions (China, Nepal, Ethiopia, and India) acted on conflicting orders, and all four ineffectively responded to the violence. Because of this gross negligence, “civilians were subjected to and witnessed gross human rights violations, including murder, intimidation, sexual violence and acts amounting to torture perpetrated by armed government soldiers.” Both the political factions in South Sudan are accused of Atrocity Crimes, and it is not clear which one committed this act.

There are currently 16,000 peacekeepers in South Sudan.

Syrian Ad Hoc?


For years now there have been calls for justice to be brought to Syria. Whether it is Syrian President Bashar al-Assad use of chemical weapons on his own people, war crimes committed by Russian Military forces, or anything done by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS); people must pay for the things they have done. There has certainly been no lack of international support for a trial, but there is no clear way to pull it off. Image result for syriaThe International Criminal Court (ICC) would take the case, but they have no jurisdiction in Syria. The ICC could have the case referred to them by the United Nations Security Council, consisting of the US, UK, France, Russia, and China, but there is no way that Russia would allow it. In allowing for a UNSC reference, Russia would be opening itself, and ally Syria up to war crimes. One potential option is an Ad Hoc trial like the ones used in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. The issues would be funding and finding an appropriate place to hold the trial. While Turkey would represent a local viable location, but there is no guarantee they would be open to it. Kurdistan could be another option in the region with enough stability to host the trial. Regardless of where a trial would be held, the West will likely have to do the majority of the funding.  They way have a while to raise money for it, because it doesn’t look like any sort of trial is imminent. 

Russia’s Bid for Human Rights Council

(New York City) On October 28, the United Nations General Assembly will select new members for the Human Rights Council. Russia is running for a chance to represent Eastern Europe at the council (against Croatia and Hungary), which has two available seats. But the crime that they have committed in Aleppo has put them under fire and is hindering their chances.

Human Rights Council is considered to be the “world’s foremost human rights body”. More than 80 human rights and organizations, that include Human Rights Watch and Refugee International, have urged UN member states to drop Russia from the running, because of their military campaign in Syria. “Russia’s gross disregard for civilian lives in Syria and its responsibility for illegal attacks makes it unfit to serve on the council,” Louis Charbonneau of Human Rights Watch.

2008_un_humanrightscouncilRussia has been supporting President Assad’s regime in Syria against the rebels and ISIS since September of 2015. Since then they have committed war crimes. Human Rights watch says that since September 19, 2016, “The attacks included the use of barrel bombs, cluster munitions, and incendiary weapons, and damaged or partially destroyed at least five hospitals in six separate attacks”. Russia have also been continually been providing the Syrian government with weapons.

I agree with these organizations, Russia must learn that there are consequences for their actions. I feel as if many have called them out on their wrong doings, but nobody has taken action. I feel as if this will help start sending the right message that the international community recognizes the crimes that they have committed and will not stand for it.

Another One Bites the Dust – Gambia announces plans to withdraw from ICC

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 Gascreen-shot-2016-10-27-at-11-17-46-ammbian 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. Bensscreen-shot-2016-10-27-at-11-18-00-amuda 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. 


Thousands of Rohingya Minorities in Burma Displaced

Human Rights Watch and France International News both released statements regarding the displacement of the minority group, Rohingya, in Burma. This forced displacement was spurred on by the deaths of nine police officers earlier in October. Some government officials believe that the armed attackers belonged to a Rohingya rebel group. Although journalists and humanitarians have not been allowed access to these areas, reports are estimating that 18,000 civilians have been displaced thus far, the majority of which are Rohingya. Many victims are claiming cases of forced removal, looting, burning, rape, and executions among the crimes being committed by the Burmese government.

Not only has the government denied access to journalists and humanitarians, but aid efforts as well. The displaced have limited resources and food available to them, and are in dire need of relief efforts.  According to the Human Rights Watch report, “Under the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, all authorities “shall grant and facilitate the free passage of humanitarian assistance and grant persons engaged in the provision of such assistance rapid and unimpeded access to the internally displaced.” Human rights groups are calling upon the Burmese government to provide aid for the displaced, or allow aid efforts to move freely.


ICC’s Conflict with Africa

africapolitmapWhen the ICC was first created, it had the most support from it’s neighboring countries in Europe, and the second most support by the African nations. Today however, the support of the ICC by African nations has weakened and now some African leaders are trying to convince all African nations to withdraw from the ICC. Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, is the one responsible for this idea. “I will bring a motion to the African Union to have all African states withdraw from the court and then they can be left alone with their own court.” (Museveni). The main argument behind his idea is that the ICC is not treating African leaders with the respect that they deserve. When the ICC first investigated cases in Africa they only went after reel leaders and looked the other way with the governments illegal actions. During this time period, many African nations grew their support towards the ICC. However, things started to change when the ICC started prosecuting both rebel leaders and government officials. One they did this, African nations started to go against the ICC because they were afraid that the ICC would prosecute them for their crimes as well. Now African nations feel as though they are being targeted and the ICC currently has 8 investigations going, all of which are in Africa. What will this mean for the ICC if they lose the support of a whole continent?

What We Can Learn About ISIS From The LRA

Although ISIS has been seemingly successful in recruiting willing and enthusiastic members to fight for their cause. However, what is addressed far less are members who have been coerced into militant action on behalf of ISIS. Is it possible to turn the unwilling into willing members?  Eleanor Beaver  uses Joseph Kony and the LRA as an example, focusing on their kidnapping and coercion of children into extremists.

Kony created a “religious universe”. His political movement required abductees to fill the ranks and to carry out his heinous demands. Survival of the abductees was nearly impossible unless they were to immerse themselves in Kony’s ideology. A study showed that 44 percent of former abductees remember expressing loyalty to Kony at the time.

ISIS has had to take similar measures. They have no allies in the muslim world, and their actions are  hard to rationalize using even jihadist methodology. Like the LRA, ISIS “shatters taboos”, using rebellion against cultural fears and norms as a way to prove their righteousness and authority.

Once inside, abductees of both the LRA and ISIS were/are taught and held to the strict laws of the organization. Those who disobeyed orders or broke laws were condemned with harsh punishment.

For captives, the rules become “lifelines”. They offer order in chaos, and obeying them offers safety from violence. By using apocalyptic rhetoric, organizations like the LRA and ISIS can coerce their captives to be militants, claiming that the only way to be safe and “pure” is to follow their ideology.


ISIL Child Soldiers


LRA Child Soldiers

Review Question #2

What are the different ways we can evaluate the successes and failures of international courts?

Does the ICC face similar political and legal obstacles to past tribunals?

Offer up some answers in the comments below.

Review Question #1

What are the most important concepts in the study of international justice ( at least, so far in the course )?

Offer up some answers in comments below, with very brief descriptions.

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.

Protesting in Ethiopia

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.