The Unintended Consequences of a Petrol and Diesel Free World

Child LaborBy Lauren Satill

This year, several countries, including the United KingdomFranceIndia, 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

ICC Acquitted Defendant Ngudjolo Deported to the DRC

Mathieu Ngudjolo

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.

ICC: Forthcoming Bemba Verdict Significant for Sexual Violence

Jean-Pierre Bemba during his trial (c) Reuters
Jean-Pierre Bemba during his ICC trial in 2013    © Reuters

The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently heard closing speeches in the case against former vice-president of the DRC, Jean-Pierre Bemba. 

Bemba is charged with command responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed by troops from the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC) when they went into the Central African Republic in 2003 to assist then-President Patassé with quashing a rebellion.

The Prosecution allege that the MLC troops were under Bemba’s effective command and control, that he knew or ought to have known that they were committing crimes, and that he failed to take steps to prevent the crimes or punish the soldiers.

Sexual violence has been a prominent part of the case against Bemba. Then-Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in his opening speech that:

“Women were raped systematically to assert dominance and to shatter resistance; men were raped in public to destroy their authority, their capacity to lead.”

According to the Prosecution, Bemba’s troops systematically raped, pillaged and murdered civilians in the CAR and committed hundreds of sexual assaults within a few days.

Defence counsel for Bemba, Peter Haynes QC, demanded Bemba’s acquittal contending that he did not receive information that crimes were being committed; that the troops fought under the command of CAR’s national armed forces and not Bemba; and that he tried to prevent the crimes.

iLawyer Guénaël Mettraux considers the judgment, which is due in 2015, to be a potential benchmark ruling, setting the standards by which political or military leaders will be held responsible for crimes committed by their subordinates:

“The decision might have relevance around the world because the ICC could very well set a precedent for other situations.”

Whilst sexual violence has been charged in other cases before the ICC, most famously in Lubanga and Katanga and Ngudjolo, all three defendants were acquitted on these counts.

The CAR continues to experience ongoing conflict and some observers are sceptical about the effect that the ICC judgment could have in the region. Patrick Vinck, researcher at the Harvard Humanitarian Institute warns that the trial, which took place 10 years after the atrocities, is not only a failure of the ICC but a failure of the international community to help the CAR achieve peace.

ICC: Germain Katanga Discontinues Appeal

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

This Wednesday, Germain Katanga discontinued his appeal against his conviction before the International Criminal Court (ICC). In a letter signed by Katanga and his defence counsel, David Hooper, Katanga stated that he “accept[ed] the conclusions rendered against [him] in the judgement and [he] express[ed] [his] sincere regrets to all who were affected by [his] conduct, including the victims of Bogoro.”

Katanga had been convicted by a majority of Trial Chamber II on 7 March 2014 of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging)

committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was sentenced, again by majority, to 12 years’ imprisonment with credit for the time he has served whilst in detention in The Hague – 7 years to date.

The Prosecutor subsequently informed the Appeals Chamber that she also discontinued her appeal against the judgment and that she does not intend to appeal the sentence imposed on Germain Katanga.

The issue of reparations for victims will be considered next.

ICC Sentences Germain Katanga to 12 Years’ Imprisonment

Germain Katanga at the ICC today (c) ICC

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

Yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Germain Katanga to 12 years’ imprisonment.

Katanga was convicted on 7 March 2014 by a majority of Trial Chamber II of murder as a crime against humanity and the war

crimes of murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging. The majority held that Katanga had contributed to the commission of crimes by the Forces de Résistances Patriotiques en Ituri, an armed group operating in the DRC who carried out an attack against the village of Bogoro on 24 February 2003.

In his summary of the sentencing judgment, Presiding Judge Cotte highlighted the gravity and particular cruelty with which the crimes were committed, resulting in the deaths of numerous civilian victims including women and children. The Chamber considered that the crimes were also clearly committed on a discriminatory basis targeting the mainly ethnic Hema who populated Bogoro village at the time of the attack. Continue reading

ICC: Germain Katanga to be Sentenced on 23 May

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

Germain Katanga (c) ICC

This Tuesday, Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it will deliver the sentencing judgement in the case of Germain Katanga on 23 May 2014 at 09h30 (Hague time) in open court. Interested parties will be able to view the live webstream here.

Under Article 77 of the Rome Statute, the judges may impose a sentence of imprisonment as well as a fine or forfeiture of proceeds, property, and assets derived from the crimes. Sentences of imprisonment cannot exceed 30 years except when justified by the extreme gravity of the crime and the individual circumstances of the convicted person, in which case a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed.

Germain Katanga was convicted by a majority of Trial Chamber II on 7 March 2014 of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) committed on 24 February 2003 during the attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the DRC. He was convicted as an accessory of contributing to the commission of crimes by members of the Forces de Resistance Patriotiques en Ituri through supplying arms and ammunition. Continue reading