Tag Archives: Darfur

Bashir Passes on Visit to United Nations

Sudanese President, Omar Al-Bashir

Omar Al-Bashir

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir this week cancelled his trip to New York for the opening session of the United Nations. Bashir was the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC issued a warrant for Bashir for  war crimes and crimes against humanity in March 2009. The appeals chamber found the pre-trial chamber’s interpretation of the grounds to issue a warrant too narrow and order the chamber to re-consider it’s decision on genocide.  In addition to being the first sitting head of state to be indicted at the ICC, Bashir is the first person to have been charged with genocide at the ICC. There are two warrants for Bashir to appear at the ICC.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya, and Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto were charged by the ICC prior to their election to the presidency and deputy presidency.  Bashir is charged for his conduct in office, Kenyatta and Ruto are alleged to have committed crimes against humanity prior to their election.  The charges against Bashir arise from the situation in Darfur.

Kenyatta and Ruto have appeared at the ICC.  Ruto’s trial began this month, Kenyatta’s trial is scheduled to begin later this year. Kenyatta took the unusual step of testifying in his own defense at the confirmation of charges hearing. Bashir has not appeared to face the charges, nor have other members of his government who have been indicted. Major NGOs have often put pressure on other nations to arrest Bashir and send him to the ICC, he has cancelled some trips apparently because of the threat of arrrest.

What is Left of the Victims Right to Select Counsel?

Trial Chamber IV of the International Criminal Court, ICC, recently ordered that in the Sudan case currently moving towards trial, two lawyers will be representing all victims at the court.  The case, against alleged rebel leaders Abdallah Banda Aadaker Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus, is proceeding to trial on the following charges:

  • violence to life, whether committed or attempted, within the meaning of article 8(2)(c)(i) of the Statute;
  • intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(iii) of the Statute; and
  • pillaging within the meaning of article 8(2)(e)(v) of the Statute.

The court had previously confirmed the charges, a proceeding roughly equivalent to a probable cause hearing.  The question now, is can two lawyers adequately represent the victims in the case?  A question previously pondered here.   The court in the Bemba case, which has by far the largest number of victims, over 1,600 so far, started the trend by ordering two lawyers from the Central African Republic should be appointed as counsel.

Article 75 of the Rome Statute gave victims a right to seek reparations:

Article 75
Reparations to victims
1. The Court shall establish principles relating to reparations to, or in respect of, victims,
including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation. On this basis, in its decision
the Court may, either upon request or on its own motion in exceptional circumstances,
determine the scope and extent of any damage, loss and injury to, or in respect of,
victims and will state the principles on which it is acting.
2. The Court may make an order directly against a convicted person specifying
appropriate reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution,
compensation and rehabilitation.
Where appropriate, the Court may order that the award for reparations be made
through the Trust Fund provided for in article 79.
3. Before making an order under this article, the Court may invite and shall take account
of representations from or on behalf of the convicted person, victims, other interested
persons or interested States.
4. In exercising its power under this article, the Court may, after a person is convicted of
a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court, determine whether, in order to give effect
to an order which it may make under this article, it is necessary to seek measures
under article 93, paragraph 1.
5. A State Party shall give effect to a decision under this article as if the provisions of
article 109 were applicable to this article.
6. Nothing in this article shall be interpreted as prejudicing the rights of victims under
national or international law.

Article 68, Paragraph 3 gives the victims a right to participate and to counsel during the proceedings:

Where the personal interests of the victims are affected, the Court shall permit their
views and concerns to be presented and considered at stages of the proceedings
determined to be appropriate by the Court and in a manner which is not prejudicial to or
inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial. Such views and
concerns may be presented by the legal representatives of the victims where the Court
considers it appropriate, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The ongoing question to be resolved will be, does the court’s practice of appointing very few lawyers prejudice that right?  Will the lawyers who undertake the responsibility be given the resources and opportunities to maintain proper contact with their clients?

The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, has jurisdiction in the 118 nations that have signed on to the Treaty of Rome, or over their citizens, or in case referred to it by the U.N. Security Council, so far Libya and Darfur.  The court investigates charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide occurring within its jurisdiction since the founding of the court which was in 2002.

Philippines Ratifies the Rome Statute

This week The Philippines became the 117th nation to ratify the Rome Statute and submit its citizens and politicians to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The nation offered the following official statement:

“The Philippines, a democracy that champions international law and the rule of law, views being party to the Rome Statute of the ICC as a vital part of the on-going global campaign to end impunity and violence against individuals and to further strengthen a rules-based international system, specifically in relation to international human rights law and humanitarian law,” Philippine Permanent Representative Ambassador Libran Cabactulan said.

“It is a clear signal of the importance with which the Philippines places to this treaty,” he added.

Ambassador Cabactulan further elaborated that, “The ICC also serves as a deterrent against genocide and other heinous crimes and ensures that all perpetrators of these serious crimes of concern are held accountable.

The ICC sits in The Hague, The Netherlands and has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide within the territory of the 117 nations that have ratified the treaty, or by their citizens, or when the United Nations Security Council refers a situation to the ICC for investigation.  So far, the Security Council has referred the situation in Darfur, Sudan and in Libya.  In response the prosecutor has sought, and obtained, warrants for the arrest of two heads of state, Muammar Qadafi of Libya, and Omar Al Bashir, President of Sudan.

State’s Parties to the Rome Statute are, among other things charged with enforcing the court’s warrants.  Should those with outstanding warrants appear on their territory, those 117 nations are expected to effect the arrest.

Pre-Trial Chamber Confirms Charge in Darfur Case

Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a finding confirming the charges against Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo.  The court statement said the court  found that Banda and Jerbo should stand trial for three war crimes:

  • violence to life and attempted violence to life;
  • intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission; and
  • pillaging.

The court included the following information supporting the charges:

These crimes were allegedly committed during an attack led by Abdallah Banda and Saleh Jerbo and other commanders and directed against the compound of the African Union Mission in Sudan at Haskanita on the evening of 29 September 2007. The Chamber found substantial grounds to believe that the attack was directed to personnel, installations, material, units and vehicles involved in a peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations which were entitled to the protection afforded to civilians and civilian objects.

Banda and Jerbo appeared voluntarily before the court, following the lead of Bahar Idriss Abu Garda who also appeared voluntarily, but won a dismissal at the confirmation of charges hearing.  The court has also issued indictments against the President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmad Harun, and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayab.  The situation in Darfur was the first case referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council.  The second, Libya, was referred last week.

To date, Sudan has refused to turn the indictees over to the court, so the only ones who have appeared are the three who have appeared voluntarily.

The seventy five page decision is available here. There are currently three cases in trial stage at the ICC, the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a joint case against Matthieu Ngdolo Chui and Germain Katanga, and the case against Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo.  Another accused, Callixte Mbarushimana has recently arrived in The Hague. In addition to the Sudan accused at large, there is one accused from the Democratic Republic of Congo still at large and three from Uganda who have not yet appeared before the court.

There may be other indictments that have not yet been made public.  Indictments in the post-election violence in Kenya case were also released today.