The Global Citizen: Civilian Protection
The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced this week that it will try four defendants from Kenya in connection with the post-election violence which broke out in the country in late 2007.
William Samoei Ruto, Joshua Arap Sang, Francis Muthaura and Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta will be tried by the Court for crimes against humanity. Kenyatta and Ruto were both presidential candidates and holders of high-level positions in Kenya. The ICC declined to confirm charges against two other Kenyans who had been investigated.
Following elections in late 2007, violence broke out in Kenya which resulted in 1,2000 deaths and the displacement of 600,000 people, many of whom still have not returned home.
It’s great news that the ICC is moving forward on the Kenya case and working to bring to justice those responsible for the events that occurred four years ago. Hopefully the trials will hold the perpetrators accountable and help ensure justice is served on behalf of the Kenyan citizens who suffered greatly during the violence.
The international community has failed in Syria. We have repeatedly missed opportunities to step in and stop the violence and conflict of President Bashar al-Assad's regime against peaceful protestors. As the situation deteriorates, the death toll increases and the violence rages on, the nonviolent opposition has increasingly taken up arms as their only option left to finally achieve their freedom and basic rights.
The Arab League is set to finalize a report later today on the group's month-long observer mission that is widely perceived to have done little more than literally observe violence (not surprising when the mission's leader, Sudan's General Mustafa al-Dabi, is himself accused of carrying out human rights violations). A former member of the mission told BBC news that the League's operation "worked for the Assad system and not to prevent the massacre of civilians." He added, "I witnessed crimes against humanity, and I was really shocked. I have seen houses destroyed, the bodies of murdered women and children, and families have a lack of food. I have seen bodies with marks of torture." The U.N. Security Council reported that more than 400 people were killed just during the mission's first ten days.
There seems to be a relationship between Bashir al-Assad's public statements on the desire of his government to cooperate with international conflict mediators and the escalation of violence and death reported in Syria. That was certainly the case yesterday, as the Arab League announced a deal with Assad's government to allow international human rights observers into Syria at least 100 deaths were reported. These events also coincided with the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn the violence in Syria.
The deal between the Arab League and Syria was signed Monday in Cairo by Faisal Mekdad, Syria's deputy Foreign Minister. If implemented, it will allow impartial observers into Syria to monitor its compliance with an agreement to stop violence between security forces and anti-government protestors. Previous refusal by Syria to comply with the deal led to the suspension of their Arab League membership and the imposition of diplomatic and economic sanctions. League officials have stated that observers could be deployed to Syria as early as Thursday.
I have just arrived back in D.C. after spending three days at the Assembly of States Parties meeting of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in New York City. For some highlights and my reflections on this extraordinary experience, read on....
Day One: The Tenth ASP kicked off with speeches from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, the President of Botswana, and current ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, among others. Pillay reasserted the important role the Court has played over the past decade in deterring tyrants around the globe. Ocampo recounted the Court's work over his nearly nine-year tenure and noted that the "shadow of the Court" has helped to deter those who would commit atrocities around the globe. Finally, the President of Botswana gave an excellent speech in which he not only called on fellow African nations to support the ICC, but also pointed the finger at those members of the U.N. Security Council who have exercised their veto power unjustly due to "politics." (Russia and China should be reminded of this the next time there is a Security Council vote on Syria.)
Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for the Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court due to its crackdown on the anti-government uprising. She also estimated the death toll had reached 5,000 civilians, with tens of thousands more wounded, arrested, or forced to flee from their homes. This is an incredibly alarming increase from the U.N. estimate of 4,000 casualties just ten days ago, marking December as by far the most violent month of the uprising that began in March.
The remarks were made during a closed session of the Security Council. Pillay said, "It is based on the evidence and the widespread and systematic nature of the killings, the detentions and the acts of torture that I felt that these acts constituted crimes against humanity and I recommended that there should be a referral to the International Criminal Court."
Bashar Jaafari, the Syrian ambassador to the U.N., denounced Pillay's statement, saying she had "allowed herself to be misused in misleading the public opinion by providing information based on allegations." Russia, one of the nations blocking Security Council action on the issue, also expressed reluctance to comply with the demand of the High Commissioner. Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that they are alarmed by the pursuit of regime change in Syria by many Security Council members.
There was a really great fictional drama on television last night, featuring an in-depth psychological profile of a psychopathic criminal mastermind. No, I’m not talking about an episode of Law and Order or Criminal Minds. I’m talking about the Barbara Walters interview of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, the first interview he’s done with an American media outlet since a political uprising began in his country almost nine months ago.
I don’t think anyone was surprised that Assad defended the actions of his regime over the last several months. What was shocking was the level of delusion he exhibited in his defense. We’re talking about a man who has forbidden state-run hospitals from treating anyone injured while participating in peaceful protests against his regime. You would think it would be hard to be shocked by the actions of a tyrant like that. Still, Assad proved last night that he was capable of shocking the international community with his level of sheer lunacy when discussing the current state of affairs in Syria.
Assad started the interview by telling Walters that he wanted to convey the reality of the situation in Syria to the outside world. When she asked him what that reality was, he said that it was too complicated to explain and she should ask a more specific question. So right from the beginning, we knew Assad wasn’t going to be very clear and direct in answering questions.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for the arrest of Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, stemming from the Court's investigation of crimes committed in the Darfur region. This follows the arrest warrant issued previously for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who remains wanted by the ICC.
Hussein is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. He is a close ally of Bashir and leader of a campaign against rebels in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile southern border states of Sudan.
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted that "Mr. Hussein played a central role in coordinating ...crimes, including in recruiting, mobilizing, funding, arming, training and the deployment of the militia/Janjaweed as part of the government of the Sudan forces, with the knowledge that these forces would commit the crimes."
Citizens for Global Solutions applauds the ICC for taking action and issuing the arrest warrant for Hussein. Hopefully he will swiftly be brought to justice and held accountable, accelerating the process of bringing justice to victims in Darfur and lasting peace to the troubled region.
International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has said that Libya’s transitional government has agreed to work with the ICC and the United Nations to investigate alleged crimes committed by Saif Gaddafi, the recently captured son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The subject of where Saif would be tried - either at the ICC or in Libya - has provoked much debate since his capture. The ICC had issued arrest warrants for Saif, his father, and Gaddafi’s former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senoussi for crimes against humanity stemming from their involvement in the violent crackdown on civilians which took place in Libya for several months this year. Because the UN Security Council referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, the Court has jurisdiction over the case, even though Libya is not an ICC state party. However, some in Libya had expressed the desire to hold Saif accountable in their own country rather than handing him over to the Hague for trial.
Prosecutor Ocampo seems satisfied with the Libyan government’s vow of cooperation on the Saif Gaddafi case. It is now critically important that the country’s National Transitional Council fulfill this pledge. Even as Libya begins to pick up the pieces and rebuild a post-Gaddafi nation, those responsible for crimes against civilians, including Saif Gaddafi, must be held accountable and brought to justice.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reportedly issued an arrest warrant for Laurent Gbagbo, former leader of Cote D'Ivoire, and he may be turned over to the Hague as soon as today.
Gbagbo was deposed from power last April after refusing to leave office following his loss in the country's 2010 election to now-President Alassane Ouattara. Three thousand people were killed and more than a million displaced during the post-election violence.
The ICC began an investigation into the situation in Cote D'Ivoire in October. Although Cote D'Ivoire has not ratified the Rome Statute, the Court says that the country accepted its jurisdiction in 2005.
Lloyd Axworthy, the former Foreign Minister of Canada and twice elected President of the U.N. Security Council, gave a presentation on the Responsibility to Protect at the University of Minnesota Law School last Tuesday in an event co-sponosred by the Minnesota chapter of Citizens for Global Solutions.
Click here to watch the webcast.
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