International Justice

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Attack in Egypt

On December 11, 2016, a bomb went off at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral, killing 25 and wounding 49.

Amnesty international has stated, “Those responsible for this morning’s reprehensible bombing at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo should be brought to justice in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty”.

Mena (Egypt’s state run news) reported that12 kilograms of TNT explosives were used in this attack. It has mostly killed woman and children, and is the deadliest such attack since the 1st January 2011, when there was a church bombing in Alexandria, which killed 23 people.

President Abdel Farah Al-Sisi has encouraged the people of Egypt to band together, “to emerge victorious in the war against terrorism, which is the battle of all Egyptians”. He has stressed that the authority will take immediate action and will be harsh with its response. The Egyptian government has previously staked its mandate on the fight against Islamic groups, promising to protect the minorities as part of its pledge. This bombing has made the people question whether or not the government can protect them from these types of crimes.muslim-terror-attack-on-egyptian-coptic-church

“The government doesn’t protect us. They can’t protect us against terrorism in general,” said one man.

Egypt has seen a rise in attacks affiliated with ISIS since the former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was over thrown in 2003.

After today’s tragic even Egypt has declared three days of mourning.

UN: LGBT Rights Wins

On November 21st, 2016, a closed vote by the General Assembly committee has now newly appointed a UN expert (independent investigator) to help protect and address violence/discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation. Human Rights Watch, claimed the expert’s: “work is a victory for human rights”, as many conservative countries (Mostly African) tried to block and halt this act, but in the end failed to do so.

05-16-ki-moon-free-equalThe Human Rights Watch along with 180 NGOs from 156 countries around the world called on the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Includes all member countries) to take a “principled stand’ that LGBT rights are also considered human rights. This vote rejected the African states draft resolution, “which deals with human rights, calling for consultations on the legality of the creation of the mandate.” They said that the work of the investigator should be suspended.

The Western countries successfully proposed an amendment (allowing investigator to continue his work) that devastated the African draft resolution. “The amendment was adopted in the third committee on Monday with 84 votes in favor, 77 against and 17 abstentions”.

Even though the Western countries won, Russia and Egypt spoke in behalf of 57 member-organization of Islamic Cooperation, stating that they would not cooperate with the investigator Muntarbhorn.

Being gay is a crime in 73 countries.

Russia Withdraws Support From The ICC

A day after the court published a report claiming/classifying the Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation, Russia has stated that it is formally withdrawing it’s signature from the ICC.

On Wednesday 16, November, the Russian foreign minister announced and carried out the orders of the president Vladimir Putin, “saying the tribunal had failed to live up to hopes of the international community and denouncing its work as “one-sided and inefficient””. The court has been accused of being one-sided numerous times and over the past couple of weeks; many countries have shown their displeasure with the court by withdrawing.
Russia signed the Rome Statute in 2000 and has been cooperating with the court, but it has not ratified the treaty, thus they were not in the courts jurisdiction, Even though this move is symbolic it will not change or effect the courts actions much. Instead they are taking the court’s credibility aw694940094001_5181416872001_what-does-vladimir-putin-hope-to-accomplishay.

“This is a symbolic gesture of rejection and says a lot about Russia’s attitude towards international justice and institutions,” said Tanya Lokshina. of Human Rights Watch. “On a practical level it will not make much difference, but it is a statement of direction: it shows that Russia no longer has any intention of ratifying the treaty in future or of cooperating with the court.”

Russia changed its view on the court as early as 2008,after the ruling to investigate the war between Russia and Georgia, to bring justice to the victims.

The ICC Commissioner says that there is no substitute to the ICC, and he hopes that countries will start realizing how important it is. “By withdrawing from the Rome Statute, leaders may shield themselves with immunities – but it will be at the cost of depriving their people of the protection of a unique and essential institution,” he warned.

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.

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.

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.

China Hunt’s Down Human Rights Lawyers!

“Is this what being a lawyer is like…? We have worked hard on behalf of the rank and file; and yet this is the misery we end up with!” – li Jinxing (Chinese lawyer)

Human Rights Lawyers in China have defended the countries most deprived citizens including: migrant laborers, ethnic and religious minorities, Political protestors, etc..
Today they face their toughest challenge: defending themselves from the Chinese Government.

China, has now been ruled by The Chinese Communist Party for more than 6 decades, they remain an authoritarian state that continues to suppress basic fundamental human rights. Like many authoritarian regimes, the senior leaders of the state, “perceiving a threat to their power, now explicitly reject the universality of human rights, characterizing these ideas as “foreign infiltration,” and penalizing those who promote them”. In 2015, new restrictive measures were put into place that promotes the “rule of law”. For Human Right’s lawyers this was a beginning of a nightmare.


The first case reported was of a prominent human rights lawyer named Wang Yu. Witnessing the mistreatment and torture of prisoners, when she was jailed in 2008 (for demanding to board a train in which she held a valid ticket), she began defending key human right’s cases which the government considered “sensitive”. She goes missing (along with her husband and son) on the early hours 9th July, 2015. Her friends received a panicked message, which stated that people are invading her home. Until today she is detained for the charges relating to state security, along with her husband who is also a HR lawyer. Between July and September of 2015, 280 HR lawyers were briefly detained. Today about 40 remain in custody in disclosed locations. These lawyers do not have a choice on whether they can have a lawyer and they are not allowed to see their families.

Another extreme case, which AlJazeera brought up recently, is of the lawyer Xia Lin. Xia Lin is best known for defending an outspoken Chinese artist named Ai Weiwei and fellow rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang. He has been sentenced for 12 years on fraud charges. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 120,000 yuan ($18,000) and give total compensation of 4.8 million yuan ($720,000) to fraud victims. The government controls these courts, so the defendants do not have a fair trial.

Coming from Saudi Arabia, this is not news to me. Many states that break Human Rights laws try to suppress those who go against the regime. In Saudi, we all know to not talk about our suppression, as it will lead us into getting in trouble. Today many protestors actually get the death sentence when they try to seek justice. Saudi is a country built on traditions apart of that tradition violates what the West sees as basic human rights. I have now got used to the idea of where I live and I know how to follow the rules, progress is being made in Saudi just like it is in China, but they are baby steps.



Alain and Dafroza Gauthier: Searching for Justice

recent NY Times article profiled the work of Alain and Dafroza Gauthier, who have spent the past 13 years collecting evidence for the prosecution of 24 perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide who are now hiding in France. Their efforts have been successful; “Paris appointed five judges to investigate the matter of the Rwandan fugitives and opened a police section specializing in crimes of genocide. Next month, the judges are scheduled to bring their first criminal case against a Rwandan fugitive accused of genocide” (NY Times).

Their success illustrates how important individuals actors are to the spread of norms of international justice and the end of impunity (a theme explored in the most recent chapter we’ve read from Kathryn Sikkink’s The Justice Cascade). It also helps to understand the human toll of impunity–how an obsession for justice for family and a beloved country can lead two individuals with no background in law (he’s a former school principal and teacher, she’s a chemical engineer) to devote decades of their lives to an investigation. Justice for atrocities is more than an abstract concept–it has real value to victims.

This case also reveals the stakes of pursuing international justice for individual states. Rwanda and France only resumed diplomatic ties in 2009, and while these prosecution will likely improve ties between the two countries, “there is a risk the rapprochement could be set back if the trial results in a short sentence or acquittal. ‘The Rwandans would not be happy at all with that,’ acknowledged one French diplomatic source” (Reuters, 9/12/13).

Also interesting is the revelation from Alain Gauthier that perpetrators of atrocities in hiding “come across as pillars of society, be it as practicing priests and doctors. ‘They try to be forgotten,’ he said” (Reuters). Dafroza Gauthier explains that these perpetrators have “always denied, they have created another story, they have completely erased that part of their lives. They were obliged to do so, otherwise you end up in a mental institution. You can’t live with a crime like that” (Mrs. Gauthier, quoted in NY Times). It is chilling to think that individuals with so much blood on their hands could resume a normal life and take up a position of trust in the community, especially when victims have so much trouble resuming their normal lives and moving past the tragedy. Perhaps this is one reason why justice in the wake of atrocities is so essential–it forces perpetrators to confront their crimes and the victims whose lives they’ve shattered.

U.N. Peacekeeping in the Eastern Congo

This article offers an interesting insight into the myriad difficulties faced by U.N. military intervention, specifically in the Eastern Congo. As highlighted in the article, MONUSCO has repeatedly failed to protect the civilian population as per its mandate-the most striking example involved rebels decapitating civilians and parading their heads in front of an apathetic peacekeeping force. The litany of failures by MONUSCO is appalling, as per the article:

In 2005, MONUC (the former name for MONUSCO) expelled 63 of its soldiers for paying refugee children for sex. A separate internal inquiry the same year found that Pakistani peacekeepers sold weapons to militias in exchange for gold. While those incidents may be exceptional, TIME has seen in repeated trips to eastern Congo how, at the first sign of trouble, blue-helmet peacekeepers habitually barricade themselves into their bases, leaving crowds of several thousand refugees who tend to gather outside to fend for themselves.

Given the fairly obvious failures of the U.N. peacekeeping force to protect civilians, does it instead make more sense to focus efforts on alternative means of support? A large majority of the authors read and discussed thus far are concerned with rebuilding societies after conflict and devastation have occurred, not during. Given the inability of the U.N. to protect civilians through peacekeeping forces, what other means can be employed, or is it simply a matter of reforming MUNESCO?

The Other Qaddafi, Niger, and the ICC


According to a recent article from the Libya Herald, a few days ago President Mahamadou Issofou of Niger offered up Saadi Qaddafi to the ICC, should it seek to arrest and prosecute him. Qaddafi is Muammar Qaddafi’s son, and in November 2011 he sought and received asylum in Niger. While the court has not issued a warrant for Qaddafi’s arrest, when Bensouda briefed the UNSC on the situation in Libya, she did mention the possibility of a second case in relation to Libya. In addition to investigating rebel crimes, which was the most seized upon implication of her announcement, she is also, however, looking into “allegations against other members of the Gaddafi government for crimes committed during the events of 2011” (From her report, 11.07.12).

While there is debate over whether Qaddafi’s actions during his father’s regime and during the revolution constitute the most serious crimes which the ICC is mandated to try, I find it interesting that Niger is making this offer unprompted to the ICC. Issofou announced that “On the extradition of Saadi Qaddafi… this will be done in accordance with international laws and the rule of law, and we are ready to comply with these laws…If asked by the International Criminal Court to deliver Qaddaf’s son, we are ready to place him at its disposal.” The Nigerien president also described the relationship between Libya and Niger as “excellent,” even though Libya has repeated sought to have Qaddafi extradited from Niger, which declined for “humanitarian considerations” – presumably the treatment that Qaddafi would face if returned to Libya.

Is this then an example of the kind of international standards that the ICC seeks to promote in action? What are we to make of Issofou’s unprompted offer to transfer Qaddafi into ICC custody? Should such enthusiasm lead us to suspect political maneuvering, or should we see it as a beacon of hope for the normalization of international justice?

The Emergence of Justice Norms

An interesting article from the Guardian reports that Winston Churchill favoured executions and life imprisonment without trial for Nazi leaders. These revelations come from this week’s declassification of the diary of Guy Liddell, who was the head of counter-espionage at MI5 (so a pretty reliable source). Churchill’s position was opposed by before Stalin, who wanted to use trials as propaganda, and Roosevelt, who felt the American public would want trials. It seems Liddell also personally disliked the idea that Nazi leaders would be prosecuted for waging a war of aggression because of the precedent it set.

This article made me think about where the concept of transitional justice has developed and disseminated from. I think often the US claims responsibility for the emergence of universal human rights and transitional justice citing American exceptionalism, the Bill of Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt’s role in shaping the UN’s Universal Declaration, etc. The rest of the world seems to reject this position – perhaps because concepts of human rights and transitional justice are so ingrained in society that everyone would like to claim responsibility (and take the US down a peg). However, reading the Guardian’s article, it does seem that the impetus for transitional justice sprung from America. I’m interested in what everyone else thinks about the beginnings of transitional justice. Often I think I’ve been too dismissive of the role of the US in shaping normative values about justice, especially as other states and actors, such the EU/UN/any number of NGOs, are the current transitional justice vanguard. So should the US be credited more for the emergence of transitional justice?

ICC Overview

Today the BBC just posted a short video that explains, in short, everything from what the ICC is, it’s jurisdiction, triggers, cases and criticisms. None of the information will be new to us, but I guess I’m interested in why an informational video is getting posted now. My guess is because  Lubanga’s conviction and the Kony 2012 campaign have given the ICC much more publicity than it has in the past. Of course I can’t say this authoritatively, but the ICC has never been “mainstream” in the West  due to the fact that it has only had cases in Africa and  doesn’t have a direct effect on western nations’ domestic politics. Unless someone (such as ourselves) are studying the subject matter or keeps up continually with world news, the ICC has probably been pretty obscure to the average person walking down the street. Now with the conviction of Lubanaga and the Kony 2012 campaign, the ICC has probably become part of the public vocabulary and dialogue.

My question is do you think more publicity for the ICC will further it’s legitimacy? And do you think more wide spread public knowledge and attention to the ICC could potentially strengthen the international community’s commitment to justice?


Here is the video:

Ugandan’s Reaction to Kony 2012

Washington Post today has an article on the recent screening of Kony 2012 in Uganda.

A much over-hype recent sensation in America in the last couple week. Thousands tweeted and posted, but not really understand what the actuality of event is been going on in Uganda and Kony.

For those of us that been learning in class, we know the video is very biased and much Western point of view to the whole situation, so what would you think the screening turn out?

Not well of course, Ugandan were angry at the end the screening, felt that an “…inaccurate account that belittled and commercialised their suffering, as the film promotes Kony bracelets and other fundraising merchandise, with the aim of making Kony infamous…”

Maybe this article would help some that just reposted on facebook or tweeted about it to learn a thing or few.

International Women’s Day

Today in the Hague, ICC celebrates its 10th anniversary and recognized today also as  International Women’s Day, to serve reminder of the urgency for all government to ensure justice for women. The Rome Statute of ICC is one of the first international treaties address gender-based crime as crimes against humanity, war crimes, and some cases genocide.

It is hard to believe ICC has only been around for 10 years, when so much has already been accomplished and recognized, feel likes its been a milestone for them. By having a first female and African Chief Prosecutor, I’m sure the rights of women will be push further in the continent of Africa, it would only benefit the disadvantage women in parts of Africa.