Detail of Battle Between Herero Warriors and German Colonials, February 1904.
Descendants of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia have sued Germany for damages in the United States for a campaign of genocide by German colonial troops in the early 1900s, which led to more than 100,000 deaths.
According to the complaint filed with a US District Court on Thursday, Germany has excluded the plaintiffs from talks with Namibia over possible reparation payments, which are expected to be completed before June 2017. Germany would furthermore have publicly said that any settlement will not include reparations to victims, even if compensation is awarded to Namibia itself.
Colonial Germany ruled Namibia from 1884 to 1915. Between 1904 and 1907 the Herero and Nama people rebelled against the colonial rule, which led to a campaign of racial extermination and collective punishment. Thousands died of thirst and starvation and many others were sent to concentration camps.
The complaint was filed under the US Alien Tort Statute which allows victims of serious human rights abuses committed abroad to sue those responsible in US courts. The law’s reach was narrowed by the US Supreme Court in 2013 when it decided in the case of Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co that the law did not cover foreign conduct unless claims sufficiently “touch and concern” the territory of the United States. Lawyers for the plaintiffs argue that this and later rulings left open the possibility of US courts asserting jurisdiction in genocide cases.
John Kerry delivering his statement on IS on 17 March 2016
United States Secretary of State John Kerry today officially determined the Islamic State group (IS) is committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Christians, Yazidis and Shiite groups in Iraq and Syria. His statement meets a congressional deadline for a decision that was long expected. Though the declaration is not related to any obligation of the United States (US) to take further action against IS or to any prosecution against members of this group.
On 14 March, the US House of Representatives passed by 393 to 0 a non-binding resolution that declared that “the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” Continue reading
Judge Sang-Hyun Song, President of the International Criminal Court
On the 10th of December 2014, one day after the release of the US Senate Intelligence Committees report on torture, President Sang-Hyun Song of the International Criminal Court (ICC) called on the US to ratify the Rome Statute in order to help furthering the promotion of accountability for human rights violations through effective and efficient litigation of international crimes.
Judge Sang-Hyun Song, elected as president of the ICC in 2009, noted that, although the ICC is not a human rights court in the strict sense, it was created to help protect core human rights and values. With its mandate to fight impunity for the most serious crimes under international law [
] one could say that the ICC is a criminal court with a strong human rights perspective.
Mr Sang-Hyun Song acknowledged that the ICC will never be able to stop impunity on its own. Which has also never been the intention. He added that it is primarily the job of States themselves to investigate and prosecute serious international crimes.
He emphasised that the ICC is a court of last resort and that it can investigate and prosecute only when national jurisdictions in question are unwilling or incapable of doing so. In the case of the US torture claims, it seems that the US is indeed unwilling to prosecute the US officials responsible for the torture committed against suspects after the 9/11 attacks. Continue reading