Law & Justice
The Battle of Mosul that began last October is becoming increasingly deadly for the civilians still trapped in the city. Recent reports of civilian casulaties have led to questions about the level of scrutiny potential targets are given before being attacked. Further afield, the growing death toll also raises questions about criminal accountability for these civilian deaths — both now and in the future.
A member of the court since 2003, there is ample evidence that serious crimes have been committed in Afghanistan by all sides of the conflict. But the prospect of opening a formal investigation there also means that US forces and officials could come under scrutiny by the ICC, a development that could have major ramifications for the court.
It is understandable that policymakers would want to clamp down on drug use within the country. But after campaigning for tough reforms, the approach that Duterte and his government is taking has shocked people both inside and outside the country.
Yesterday saw the trial of Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi at the International Criminal Court for the intentional destruction of world heritage shrines in Timbuktu during the 2012 occupation of the city by the Islamic rebel group Ansar Dine. The trial marks two important milestones for the court: this is the first time a suspect plead guilty, and also the first case of cultural destruction as a war crime.
More than 20 years after the Bosnian war ended, the International Criminal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) convicted Radovan Karadžić on 10 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the customs of war. There are hopes that the verdict will serve as an important step for Bosnians to move on from a war that ended more than two decades ago.
Today the International Criminal Court reached an historic decision, finding former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba guilty of murder, rape and pillaging. This verdict marks the first ICC conviction for rape and gender based violence.
The decades old system of international laws and agreements intended to facilitate the safe and dignified processing of refugees is now clearly broken. Unless the international community substantially updates these policies to reflect the realities of the 21st century, the old system is bound to fold under the pressure.
Gruesome beheading videos and online calls to join the caliphate have become hallmarks of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, intimidating its enemies and fuelling recruitment efforts. But the Western jihadis whose social media savvy has helped launch ISIS into the global spotlight could one day find themselves facing justice in the International Criminal Court thanks to a legal backdoor that would see their tweets and Facebook posts used against them.
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News broke this week of the surrender of Dominic Ongwen, a top commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, to US forces in the Central African Republic. One of the five LRA commanders indicted by the ICC in 2005, Ongwen is also the most controversial of the Uganda indictments. While his surrender deals a serious blow to the LRA, whether the LRA’s victims will see justice remains unclear. Ongwen was a child when he was abducted by the LRA and grew up to become a notorious killer. But what are the legal and moral implications of trying a man for crimes against humanity when that man was conscripted as a child?
It has been a rough month for the International Criminal Court. A week after deciding to withdraw the charges in the high profile case of Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda appeared before the UN Security Council to inform them that the court will be suspending investigations into atrocities committed in Darfur due to a lack of cooperation by the Sudanese government, ICC member states and the UN.
The International Criminal Court’s Assembly of State Parties (ASP) is meeting this week in New York. The annual meeting brings together members of the court to elect judges, decide on the next year’s budget and debate possible amendments to procedure and the Rome Statute. But this year’s meeting comes in the wake of the ICC prosecutor withdrawing charges against Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta last week. The current conclusion of the case may end a particularly contentious chapter in the ICC’s short history, but also leaves a lot of unanswered questions about what it means for the court.
A second mass grave has been found in rural Mexico a month after 43 student teachers went missing following an altercation with police in the town of Iguala. The missing students, along with the apparent involvement of local police and government officials in their suspected murders, has set off massive protests throughout the country. Things may be getting better south of the border, but rule of law issues continue to plague Mexico.
Last week a group of human rights organizations submitted a letter to the ICC requesting investigation into crimes committed by state security forces in their battle against drug cartels. It is not the first time human rights organizations have requested intervention by the ICC in the brutal Mexican Drug War. Yet, like the last request in 2011, it is unlikely the ICC will take up the case. There are several reasons why the ICC is not interested in the violence in Mexico but the changing nature of conflict and organized crime suggests that it may be time for the court to reconsider its position.
Nearly nine years after a car bomb killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is starting court proceedings today in The Hague. As the first international tribunal to prosecute terrorism the STL has a lot of potential, but will face potentially debilitating challenges as it seeks to bring a modicum of justice to a politically fragile country.
Yesterday ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda took the extraordinary measure of filing an application to indefinitely adjourn the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in order to seek additional evidence to sustain the prosecution. At the core of the request is the ongoing issue of witness tampering that has haunted the ICC in Kenya for years.
The annual Assembly of State Parties of the ICC (ASP) kicked off yesterday to discuss the management of the court and possible changes to the Rome Statute. While several issues are on this year’s agenda, including victim compensation and progress on ratifying amendments to define the crime of aggression, chief among the concerns of the state parties are the issues surrounding the current cases with Kenya and in particular the prosecution of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto.
Just a few weeks after France launched an intervention aimed at rooting out Islamist Ansar Dine rebels in northern Mali, French and Malian forces retook the historic desert city without resistance and to the cheers of local citizens. However, the city’s ten months under Islamic rule still had consequences, not just for the people living there but also for the historical treasures the city in known for. The destruction of the cultural heritage of Timbuktu raises questions of what is, or maybe should be, an international crime.
More than 32 years after the Khmer Rouge fell from power in Cambodia, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) started proceedings against high ranking officials of the regime.
In an effort to prove that justice has no time limit, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) indicted four former officials of the Khmer Rouge regime on Thursday. The indictment, which is the second to be handed down by the ECCC, comes nearly 32 years after the Khmer Rouge lost power to a Vietnamese intervention in early 1979.