ICC: South Africa’s Failure to Arrest Sudanese President Violates Rome Statute

Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan
Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jesse B. Awalt/Released via Wikimedia Commons

In its decision of July 6, 2017, a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) held that South Africa violated its obligations under the Rome Statute by failing to comply with an ICC request to arrest and turn over to ICC custody Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on multiple counts of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide in relation to the conflcit in Darfur. [ICC Press Release] Al-Bashir was in South Africa for a meeting of the African Union from June 13–15, 2015. [ICC Press Release] Despite its conclusion, the Court elected not to refer South Africa’s non-compliance to either the Assembly of States Parties – the legislative body of the ICC – or the United Nations Security Council, citing the fact that South African courts have already disposed of the matter. [ICC Press Release] The referrals, the Court said, are unnecessary to obtain cooperation from South Africa. [ICC Press Release] This decision could have implications for al-Bashir and others wanted by the ICC as they decide whether and where to travel. [New York Times] Since the issuance of his first arrest warrant in 2009, al-Bashir has managed to travel internationally to Asia and within Africa, but has strategically avoided the United States and Western European countries where he faces a greater risk of arrest. [New York Times] Read more

African Commission Declaration Recommends Expanded Protections for Human Rights Defenders

Reine Alapini-Gansou, the ACHPR Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, (right) sits with other ACHPR Commissioners
Credit: ACHPR

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPRrecently published the Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa that recommends repealing harmful and discriminatory laws, ensuring compliance with existing international standards that impact human rights defenders, and developing standards on women human rights defenders, among other recommendations. Adopted earlier this year during the 2nd International Symposium on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in Africa held from March 27 to April 1, 2017, in Cotonou, Benin, civil society, national human rights institutions (NHRIs), and States in the region developed the Declaration. See ACommHPR, Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa (adopted on 1 April 2017). The Commission’s Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders, Madame Reine Alapini-Gansou, organized the colloquium with the goal of strengthening the protection of human rights defenders in the pan-African region through an assessment of the progress made, and the development of new strategies capable of responding to the current needs of human right defenders. See ACommHPR, 60th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Intersession Activity Report (2017), para. 35. The Declaration identifies the abuse of counter-terrorism laws, undue restrictions on the right to freedom of association, violence and threats of violence against defenders and their families, reprisals, and the targeting of certain groups of defenders, among others, as challenges to the protection of human rights defenders, and recommends, in part, raising awareness through the documentation of violations and publication of reports. See Cotonou Declaration on strengthening and expanding the protection of all Human Rights Defenders in Africa (2017). This Declaration is one of seven declarations adopted by the ACHPR since its founding, and while the ACHPR has adopted resolutions on human rights defenders, the existing treaties, declarations, and general comments in the pan-African Human Rights System do not address human rights defenders specifically.

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News Clips- July 7, 2017

Judges of the ICC find that South Africa failed to meet its obligation to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir to the Court
Credit: ICC

Civil Society

  • On Thursday, Turkish police arrested nine human rights activists, including Amnesty International’s Turkey director, Idli Eser. [BBC News]
  • On Thursday, a student activist in Hong Kong pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge related to his participation in pro-democracy protests in 2014. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Sunday, anti-G20 summit protesters clashed with local police in Hamburg, Germany. [Guardian]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, civil society reported that murder, torture, rape, severe hunger, and cholera outbreaks in South Sudan have led to major crises in the region. [Guardian]
  • On Monday, the Syrian army announced a temporary halt to combat operations in support of peace talks set to take place in Kazakhstan. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, five suicide bombs and a hand grenade were used to attack Lebanese soldiers during raids of two Syrian refugee camps in Arsal, Lebanon. [Reuters]
  • According to United Nation’s data released last Friday, at least 55 UN peacekeepers were accused of sexual abuse during UN Missions since January 2017. [Al Jazeera]

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and Raila Odinga, an opposition candidate, announced that they will not participate in the upcoming presidential debates due to a change in format. [Al Jazeera]
  • Last Friday, the German parliament voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. [Guardian]

International Criminal Law

  • On Thursday, the International Criminal Court found that South Africa breached its obligation to deliver Omar Al-Bashir to the Court. [ICC Press Release]
  • On Monday, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court stated there is a “reasonable basis” to conclude that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by United States troops, the Taliban, and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. [BBC News]

Human Rights Council Establishes Special Rapporteur on Leprosy, Renews Ten Others

The current President of the Human Rights Council stands with former presidents at the start of the 32nd Session
Credit: UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The United Nations Human Rights Council created or extended 11 special procedure mandates during its 35th regular session through the adoption of resolutions, including one that created the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members. During the session, held from June 6 to June 23, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, the Human Rights Council also extended the mandates of eight thematic and two country special procedure mandates. [OHCHR Press Release: 35th Session] The new mandate on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members is established for a period of three years, with a mandate to monitor the progress of the implementation of the principles for the elimination of such discrimination; to identify and promote good practices; and to report on an annual basis to the Human Rights Council, a UN intergovernmental group that tracks human rights conditions in the UN Member States and is responsible for creating special procedures, or independent experts who report and give advice on particular human rights issues. [OHCHR Press Release: Leprosy] Read more

News Clips- June 30, 2017

United Nations General Assembly High-level Action Event on Education
Credit: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

Civil Society

  • On Tuesday, Amnesty International joined a boycott protesting the mandatory reporting rules for foreign-funded groups recently put into force in Hungary. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, Mexican reporter Salvador Adame was found dead in Mexico; seven journalists have been murdered in the country this year. [Guardian]
  • Over the weekend, police forces in Istanbul, Turkey detained 44 people attending LGBT marches that were banned by the governor of Istanbul. [Washington Post]

Violence & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Tuesday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia fully disarmed, ending a half-century long armed struggle that has killed more than 220,000 people. [Washington Post]
  • On Tuesday, the United States government issued a warning to the Syrian regime that there would be a “heavy price” for any use of chemical weapons. [Guardian]
  • On Friday, 40 people were killed, and 100 wounded, during four bomb and gun attacks in three cities in Pakistan claimed by multiple extremist groups. [Washington Post]

Activities of Supranational Bodies

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

Politics

  • On Wednesday, the government of Pakistan issued its first passport with a transgender category. [Reuters]
  • On Tuesday, several corporations in Europe reported massive cyberattacks via ransomware viruses. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Monday, the United States Supreme Court lifted the block on the implementation of President Trump’s ban on travel from six countries but only for individuals who lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” [Guardian]
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