By Lauren Satill
This year, several countries, including the United Kingdom, France, India, and Norway, all set targets to stop the sale of diesel and petrol cars within the next 8-23 years. These are bold steps towards significantly reducing carbon emissions and improving the prospects of a sustainable global environment. Consequentially, there has been exponential growth in demand for certain metals, namely cobalt, and therefore, growth in the extractive industry. This industry is historically fraught with human rights abuses and the promulgation of this ‘green movement’, towards all electric vehicles, may further aggravate human rights abuses.
Electric car batteries are lithium ion batteries, made from graphite, lithium salts, and a cathode (which consists of 80% Nickel, 15% cobalt, and 10% Aluminium). Whilst it makes up a seemingly insignificant part of these batteries, cobalt sources are depleting and human rights within the extraction business is being overlooked at the hands of the growing demand for electric cars.
In 2016, it was estimated that around 65% of the world’s supply of cobalt is sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In January 2016, Amnesty International released a report on the conditions of cobalt mines in the DRC. The report found children as young as 7 working in artisanal mines with little to no protective equipment. On average, children and adults working in these mines earn US$1-3 per day. This information could only be collected from ‘artisanal’ mines as multinationals refused to cooperate with Amnesty International. Nonetheless, their impact must not be understated as they represent up 20% of the world’s cobalt supply. Continue reading
by Rita Yip
On Tuesday 31 May 2016, the closing statements in the first contempt case tried before the International Criminal Court (ICC), The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, will be made publicly and are expected to last three days.
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo – the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo – and four other accused are charged for offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute. The Prosecution alleges that the accused collectively engaged in a scheme to corruptly influence, illicitly coach and bribe fourteen defence witnesses for false testimony during the trial of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo between 2011 -2013.
The five accused were arrested in November 2013 and were detained at the United Nations Detention Unit in The Hague for almost one year. On 21 October 2014, the Pre-Trial Chamber granted interim release to the four accused – except Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who remained in custody since 2008.
The trial hearings before the Trial Chamber VII commenced on 29 September 2015. The Prosecution called 13 witnesses and the five Defence teams collectively called six witnesses, including experts in the field of audio recordings, Austrian law and African solidarity.
The closing statements are expected to last three days. The Prosecution and the Defence teams will present its arguments and respond to the others parties’ arguments articulated in their closing submissions filed on 24 May 2016. Two of the accused – Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo’s former Defence Lead counsel and Fidèle Babala Wanda, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo’s political associate, have been granted the request to give an unsworn statement during the closing statements.
Earlier this year, on 21 March 2016, Jean-Pierre Bemba was found guilty of two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) for crimes that were committed in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui ©ANP
Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, the first defendant to be acquitted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been deported to Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), on Monday 11 May. Media confirmed that Ngudjolo arrived back in the DRC on Monday evening where he was escorted by five European police officers before leaving the Kinshasa airport surrounded by friends and family.
In a secret video, shared online last week, Ngudjolo spoke out about death threats and his concerns about being killed or receiving the death penalty when expelled to the DRC. He fears his live is in danger in the DRC as he has made incriminating statements about the current leaders of the country during his trial at the ICC.
Human Rights Watch also expressed concern about Ngudjolo’s return and said that “we and others will be looking to the Congolese authorities to ensure Mathieu Ngudjolo’s safety and security once he is back in Congo”.
The 44-year-old former leader of the Nationalist Integrationlist Front (FNI) militia was acquitted of the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Trial Chamber II of the ICC on 18 December 2012, who ordered his immediate release. Straight after his acquittal he applied for asylum in the Netherlands which was denied by the Dutch authorities, but he was allowed to stay in the Netherlands pending his appeal.
On 27 February 2015, the ICC Appeal Chamber confirmed the decision of the Trial Chamber acquitting Ngudjolo Chui of charges of crimes against humanity, putting a final end to the trial that had started in 2009. After the ruling, the Dutch authorities immediately arrested Ngudjolo and transferred him to Schiphol airport to return him to the DRC that same day. His lawyer filed a new asylum claim at the last minute, and Ngudjolo was escorted off the aircraft. The new claim was rejected a few days later.
Unconfirmed sources say that after his arrival in Kinshasa yesterday, Ngudjolo subsequently fled to an unknown destination. According to the president of the Congolese Association for access to justice (l’Association congolaise pour l’accès à la justice), who is also Ngudjolo’s lawyer, he has currently no information about the whereabouts of his client.
Thomas Lubanga © Reuters
Today the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgments on Thomas Lubanga’s appeal against the verdict issued by ICC Trial Chamber I, that Mr Lubanga was guilty of the enlistment, conscription and use in hostilities of children under the age of fifteen.
The Appeals Chamber issued simultaneously its judgment on the appeals of the Prosecutor and Mr Lubanga against the sentence imposed by the Trial Chamber. The Appeals Chamber confirmed, by majority, the verdict declaring Mr Lubanga guilty and the decision sentencing him to 14 years of imprisonment.
The Appeals Chamber rejected Mr Lubanga’s allegations that the proceedings were unfair and found that Mr Lubanga did not substantiate several grounds of appeal he raised. The Appeals Chamber established, with respect to factual errors, that it would not assess the evidence anew, but would intervene only if the Trial Chamber’s assessment of fact was found to be unreasonable. In applying this standard, the Appeals Chamber rejected, among others, the alleged errors in the Trial Chamber’s findings relevant to the age of the child soldiers.
With respect to the alleged legal errors regarding Mr Lubanga’s individual criminal responsibility, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the Trial Chamber’s approach that a co-perpetrator must make an essential contribution and does not need to personally and directly commit the crime.
With respect to the Prosecutor’s and Mr Lubanga’s appeals against the Sentencing Decision, the Appeals Chamber held that a Trial Chamber enjoys broad discretion in determining a sentence. The Appeals Chamber rejected all the grounds of appeal raised by the Prosecutor and Mr Lubanga, finding that the sentence was not disproportionate to the gravity of the crimes and reflected Mr Lubanga’s culpability for the crimes for which he was convicted. Accordingly, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the total sentence of 14 years.
For the Conviction Decision, click here.
For the Sentencing Decision, click here.
by Göran Sluiter
The ICC detention Centre
This blog is generally the place for academic reflection and analysis, but this posting -I am aware- also may be perceived as having the nature of an (emotional) appeal to both the ICC and the Netherlands.
Representing the three Congolese witnesses in their asylum procedure in the Netherlands -together with colleagues Van Eik and Schüller- I fully and openly declare an interest. That said, it is my conviction that the fate of the three Congolese witnesses in ICC detention has reached the level of absurdity and requires urgent attention.
Those who are not very closely following the ICC express great suprise when I inform them that there are witnesses being detained at the ICC Detention Unit. The starting point and legal basis for the witnesses’ detention lies in art. 93 (7) of the Statute. It is indeed a logical and welcome arrangement to facilitate the testimony of witnesses detained in a State party to have their detention temporarily continued at the ICC.
However, in respect of three Congolese defence witnesses an unprecedented situation arose when they applied for asylum in the Netherlands, because, among other things, they fear reprisals by DRC President Kabila in case of return to the DRC. The witnesses had in their testimonies in the Katanga and Ngudjolo trials implicated Kabila in the commission of international crimes in the DRC. Continue reading
The International Criminal Court
Last week, a Congolese witness detained in the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s detention unit for over three years has decided to go on hunger strike.
Floribert Ndjabu is one of three witnesses who sought asylum in the Netherlands after giving testimony in 2011 in the cases of Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and Germain Katanga.
Ndjabu, Pierre Celestin Mbodina and Manda Charif were sent from a prison in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where they were being held pending trial for alleged war crimes.
During their testimonies, they implicated Joseph Kabila as having a hand in the massacres for which Ngudjolo and Katanga were accused.
Fearing prosecution after their testimonies if they were sent back to the DRC, they sought asylum in the Netherlands.
However, three years later, their case is still pending before the Dutch Supreme Court, which is to begin hearings on June 6.
“Floribert is desperate because he’s been held at the detention unit for three years as an asylum seeker and the Netherlands refuses to take him […] He’s afraid that the process will go on much longer and that he’ll be in detention for many more years” said Ndjabu’s lawyer.
He added that one of the other witnesses was also thinking of going on hunger strike.
In January, the ICC’s Appeals Chamber ordered the three men to be sent home, pressing the Dutch authorities for a decision on their asylum bid.