Abbas: Palestine plans lawsuit against the UK over the 1917 Balfour Declaration

Mahmoud Abbas, the president of Palestine, announced his intention on Monday to sue the government of the United Kingdom over the 1917 Balfour Declaration which paved the way for the creation of Israel.

Balfour Declaration published in The Times of London - 9 November 1917

Balfour Declaration published in The Times of London – 9 November 1917

The statement of Abbas was delivered by foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki at the opening of this week’s Arab League summit in Mauritania, in the absence of Abbas.

It is said that the 1917 Balfour Declaration, named after then UK Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour, pledged to support the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people in Palestine. The Declaration is seen as a key milestone for the Zionist movement.

The document formed the basis of the British Mandate for Palestine, which was formally approved by the League of Nations in 1922.

Al-Maliki said that the Balfour Declaration led to mass Jewish immigration to British Mandate Palestine. According to al-Maliki, the Declaration “gave people who don’t belong there something that wasn’t theirs”.

In the statement it was further said that the United Kingdom was responsible for all “Israeli crimes” since the end of the British mandate in 1948.

According to the statement, the lawsuit would be filed “in an international court”, but no further details on the planned lawsuit were provided. Gulf News reported that Dr Hanna Eissa, part of the Palestinian team preparing the lawsuit, mentioned the International Court of Justice, which can issue non-binding advisory opinions.

ICC: Bemba sentenced to 18 years in prison

160621-bemba-sentence-10-1Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today sentenced Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo to 18 years’ imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.

In March the Chamber had found the former vice-president of the DRC guilty beyond reasonable doubt for the crimes of murder, rape and pillaging committed by militiamen under Bemba’s command.

For the crimes of rape the Chamber imposed 18 years of imprisonment while 16 years of imprisonment were imposed for the crimes of murder and pillaging. However, the Chamber decided that the sentences imposed shall run concurrently. Continue reading

Lecture: The International Criminal Court at the Mercy of Powerful States

asser-logoDate: 29 June 2016, at 7 pm

Venue: T.M.C. Asser Instituut, R.J. Schimmelpennincklaan 20-22, The Hague, Netherlands

T.M.C. Asser Instituut, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University organize a lecture on “The International Criminal Court at the Mercy of Powerful States: How the Rome Statute Promotes Legal Neo-Colonialism” with speaker Dr Res Schuerch, from the University of Amsterdam and University of Zürich.

Supranational Criminal Law Lectures are public and free of charge. Registration is not necessary, seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

2016 International Criminal Court Summer School

Date: 27 June-1 July 2016

Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.

Default_conf_TopstripThe annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The summer school allows participants the opportunity to attend a series of intensive lectures over five days. The lectures are given by leading academics on the subject as well as by legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. The interactive and stimulating course is particularly suited to postgraduate students, legal professionals, scholars, and NGO workers. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures and operations, and the applicable law. Lectures also speak to related issues in international criminal law, including: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, jurisdiction, fair trial rights, and the rules of procedure and evidence. Continue reading

ICC: Bemba Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo in the ICC courtroom during the delivery of his verdict on 21 March 2016 ©ICC-CPI

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo in the ICC courtroom during the delivery of his verdict on 21 March 2016 ©ICC-CPI

Today, Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo guilty of all five counts he was accused of: two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging). The crimes were committed in the south of Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003 (the 2002-2003 CAR Operation) by a contingent of Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) troops. Mr. Bemba, who was the MLC President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armée de Libération du Congo, was found guilty as a person effectively acting as a military commander with effective authority and control over the forces that committed the crimes.

The Chamber discussed facts that occurred during the armed conflict between the Central African governmental authorities, supported among others by the MLC, and the rebel armed group of the Forces armées centrafricaines, that lasted from 26 October 2002 to 15 March 2003. The Chamber found that the MLC soldiers then directed a widespread attack against the civilian population, and that they committed many acts of pillaging, rape, and murder against civilians, over a large geographical area. The Chamber found that acts of murder, rape, and pillaging were committed consistent with evidence of a modus operandi apparent from the earliest days and employed throughout the 2002-2003 CAR Operation. Continue reading

South Africa “disgraceful” for Not Arresting Al-Bashir

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa ruled the government had shown unlawful conduct “in failing to take steps to arrest and detain, for surrender to the International Criminal Court, the President of Sudan, Omar Hassan Ahmad Al Bashir.” The Appeal Court has ruled that South Africa had therefore failed to comply with its obligations under the Rome Statute and section 10 of the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Act 27 of 2002.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the 25th AU Summit in South Africa ©KIM LUDBROOK / EPA

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir during the 25th AU Summit in South Africa ©KIM LUDBROOK / EPA

Omar Al Bashir visited South Africa on 13 June 2015 to attend the 25th Assembly of the African Union.  The South African government took no steps to arrest Omar Al Bashir, claiming he benefited from immunity as a head of State. The South African Litigation Centre brought in response an urgent application on Sunday 14 June to the High Court of Pretoria, “seeking orders declaring the failure to take steps to arrest President Al Bashir to be in breach of the Constitution and to compel the Government to cause President Al Bashir to be arrested and surrendered to the ICC to stand trial pursuant to the two warrants.” While the Government opposed the application and sought to obtain a postponed until the next day, the High Court made an order prohibiting President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan from leaving the South African territory “until a final order is made in this application, and the respondents are directed to take all necessary steps to prevent him from doing so.” When an emergency order was eventually obtained the following day from the High Court ordering Bashir’s arrest, government lawyers admitted he had flown out of the country just a few hours earlier. Continue reading

Saif al-Islam and Libyan Former Officials Sentenced to Death

Today, Saif al-Islam, son of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was sentenced in absentia to death by firing squad after being found guilty of war crimes by the Tripoli court. Held since 2011 by a former rebel group in Zintan that opposes the Tripoli government and refused to hand him over, Saif al-Islam’s trial had begun in April 2014. Saif al-Islam had appeared by video link in sessions at the start of trial but not later on.

Saif al-Islam had appeared by video link in sessions at the start of trial ©EPA

Saif al-Islam had appeared by video link in sessions at the start of trial ©EPA

Saif al-Islam was tried alongside his brother, Saadi Gaddafi, and other former officials of the Gaddafi regime, including Abdullah al-Senussi, the former intelligence chief to Muammar Gaddafi, as well as two former prime ministers and 34 senior officials of the old regime. Abdallah al-Senousi and former PM Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi are among the eight people also facing the death penalty, while other defendants have received sentences ranging from five years to life imprisonment. They will be given the right to appeal.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) had expressed concerns about the failures, with particular concerns over fairness, of Libya’s justice system. The situation in Libya was referred by the UN Security Council (UNSC) to the ICC in February 2011. Challenged by the Libyan authorities, the ICC found in October 2013 that the case against Mr Al-Senussi was inadmissible before the Court but confirmed in May 2014 that the case against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi was admissible. On December 2014, the ICC had issue a finding of non-compliance by the Government of Lybia to the UNSC with respect to the nonexecution of two requests for cooperation, i.e. requests to surrender Saif Al‑Islam Gaddafi to the Court and to return the originals of the documents of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s Defence.

According to Salah al-Bakkoush, a Tripoli-based political analyst, the rulings should not have strong resonance in Lybia. “Libyans in general have so many problems right now that many were not even following the trial,” he told Al Jazeera. “Those who participated in the struggle against the regime of Gaddafi will be following and will be happy.”

Palestine Delivers Information to the ICC

On June 25, 2015, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Ms. Fatou Bensouda, met with the Palestinian foreign minister, Riad al-Malki, on the cases Palestine wishes to refer under the Rome Statute.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki leaves the ICC at the Hague ©Reuters

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad al-Malki leaves the ICC at the Hague ©Reuters

Palestine, which joined the ICC on April 1, 2015, delivered files to the ICC Prosecutor on two sets of facts that would allegedly amount to war crimes committed by Israel.  The first set would inform allegations of civilian killings and wrongful treatment of prisoners throughout the occupied territories, and more especially 2014 military operations Brother’s Keeper and Protective Edge. The second set of information cover Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The question of whether illegal settlements can amount to war crimes has not yet come before the ICC, but Ms. Bensouda said “The settlements will definitely be part of this examination phase.” While the information delivered by Palestine is not considered criminal evidence, they will inform the Prosecutor’s examination of the situation that began in January 2015 and her decision to possibly open a criminal investigation.

2015 International Criminal Court Summer School

Date: 15-19 June 2015

Location: Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, University Rd, Galway, Ireland.

Default_conf_Topstrip

The annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premiere summer school specializing on the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Summer School comprises a series of intensive and interactive lectures over five days given by leading academics and legal professionals working at the ICC. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures, operations, and applicable law. Specific topics covered include international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity & aggression), jurisdiction, modes of liability, the role of victims and prosecutorial discretion.

This year’s Summer School will include a special session on Palestine and the International Criminal Court, which will involve the participation of the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek.

The summer school is attended by legal professionals, academics, postgraduate students, journalists and staff of civil society or intergovernmental organisations. A limited number of scholarships are available. To register and for more information regarding the 2015 ICC Summer School, please visit the conference website or send an email. Registrations will close on 30 May 2015.

Calls for Ad-hoc Tribunal for War Crimes and Mass Atrocities in Syria

As the war in Syria entered its fifth year, the United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on Tuesday called for the establishment of an ad-hoc tribunal to prosecute both sides to ensure accountability for the perpetrators of mass crimes committed in Syria.

Members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria ©Martial Trezzini / EPA

Members of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria ©Martial Trezzini / EPA

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry, addressed the Human Rights Council in Geneva warning that the Syrian civil war had intensified in its destructive scale as combatants used aerial and ground weapons “indiscriminately and disproportionately” and committed an alarming number of human rights violations.

The Commission of Inquiry reiterated the Commission’s dedication to find a path to justice through a Security Council referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, it held that ensuring accountability was a process rather than a single action and that impunity had lasted for too long. Continue reading