05 April 2023 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Russian official sought by ICC for war crimes speaks at UN
Al Jazeera, 05 Apr 2023

Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights, who is being sought for war crimes, will brief a controversial United Nations meeting that Russia called to counter what it claims is disinformation about Ukrainian children taken to Russia. Russia’s UN Mission confirmed on Tuesday that Maria Lvova-Belova will be the lead speaker, by video link, to an informal meeting of the Security Council that has sparked opposition from Ukraine’s supporters. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants last month for her and President Vladimir Putin over their suspected involvement in the unlawful deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The United Kingdom said it has blocked outside broadcast of the meeting in protest and will not send an ambassador. The US mission said it will not send its ambassador, either. “The fact that they are inviting someone indicted by the ICC speaks for itself,” UK deputy ambassador James Kariuki said.

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NEWS ‘I Expect Acquittal’: Kosovo’s Thaci Launches War Crimes Defence
Balkan Insight, 04 Apr 2023

Former Kosovo President Hashim Thaci addressed the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague on Tuesday as defence lawyers began their opening statements in his trial, saying he anticipates that he will be cleared. “I expect to be acquitted,” Thaci told the court. Thaci and his three co-defendants, Kadri Veseli, Rexhep Selimi and Jakup Krasniqi – all former Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA leaders who later became senior politicians – are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between at least March 1998 and September 1999, during and just after the war with Serbian forces. They are accused of having individual and command responsibility for crimes that were mainly committed against prisoners who were held at a series of detention facilities set up by the KLA in Kosovo and neighbouring Albania, including 102 murders.

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New ICC Vetting Process Begins for Judicial Candidates
Human Rights Watch, 04 Apr 2023

Next December, member countries of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will elect six new judges to the court’s bench. Today, to assist that election, a confidential channel opened to receive allegations of misconduct against candidates. The channel is part of a “due diligence” process that ICC member states adopted in February, building on previous ad hoc processes for the election of the ICC’s deputy prosecutors in 2021 and the court’s registrar in 2022. The new process reflects an important next step by ICC members to strengthen the process for electing quality court officials, particularly to ensure their “high-moral character,” a requirement the ICC’s Rome Statute mandates for the court’s leadership positions. Like previous iterations, this “due diligence” process includes background checks, the aforementioned channel for receiving misconduct allegations, and a clear definition of “misconduct.”

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Africa: We Must Counter Hate Speech If We Want to Prevent Future Genocides
AllAfrica, 04 Apr 2023

Ahead of 7 April, the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Ms. Alice Wairimu Nderitu, spoke to Africa Renewal's Zipporah Musau on progress made in protecting communities and some of the red flags to look out for as a precursor to genocide. Here are the excerpts: "Words can be weapons and hate speech can lead to the most atrocious violence. Hate speech is always present during genocide, but also before and after". Twenty-nine years since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, where is the country now? What were the success & challenges along the way?

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Bulgaria makes first voluntary contribution to the Trust Fund for Victims
International Criminal Court, 03 Apr 2023

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) takes great pleasure in announcing that the Government of Bulgaria made its first ever voluntary contribution of €20,000 to the TFV. Bulgaria’s recognition of the TFV’s mandate and activities demonstrates its support and commitment to making reparative justice a significant reality for survivors of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC. Speaking on Bulgaria’s contribution to the Trust Fund, H.E. Mr Konstantin Dimitrov, Bulgaria’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands said: “Bulgaria’s contribution serves to underpin our continuous support for the work of the Trust Fund for Victims and our commitment to a truly restorative vision of justice that has been embodied in the Rome Statute. We remain committed to further support the activities of the Trust Fund for Victims as an important element of the architecture of the Rome Statute in the fulfilment of its important mandate by ensuring assistance and reparations to the victims and their families to provide justice for all."

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Africans should help bring Putin to the ICC
Al Jazeera, 03 Apr 2023

On March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and its Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the war crimes of illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The crimes were allegedly committed from at least February 24, 2023 – the day Russia embarked on an all-out invasion of Ukraine. Russian officials have since dismissed the ICC indictment and closed ranks around their accused leader. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the charges “outrageous and unacceptable”, as well as “null and void” because Russia – like China and the United States – does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ICC.

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