12 May 2021 - NPWJ News Digest on international criminal justice

NPWJ press release

Demonstrations in Colombia: NPWJ calls for an urgent response to human rights violations
NPWJ Press Release, 11 May 2021

No Peace Without Justice notes with concern the reports from local and international NGOs and bodies of unlawful killings, sexual violence, other gross human rights violations, and excessive use of force by the police during peaceful demonstrations in Colombia. Between 28 April and 10 May 2021, the Colombian NGO Temblores registered 1,876 cases of police brutality. According to these reports, 39 people have been killed by the police, and there have been 963 arbitrary detentions and 12 victims of sexual violence. Local civil society organisations and national, regional and international bodies, including the Truth Commission in Colombia (Comisión para el Esclarecimiento de la Verdad, la Convivencia y la No Repetición), the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, and the UN have denounced the human rights abuses and called on the State to uphold the rights of Colombian people to peaceful protest and to open investigations for the human rights violations.

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Myanmar coup: ‘No sign’ of end to brutal crackdown on all fronts
UN News, 11 May 2021

One hundred days since the Myanmar military seized power, the "brutal" repression of protesters has continued, despite all international efforts to end the violence, the UN rights office (OHCHR) said on Tuesday. According to credible reports, as of 10 May, at least 782 people have been killed as security forces used unnecessary, disproportionate and lethal force, to suppress demonstrations and other forms of public participation, since the military coup on 1 February.

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ISIL committed genocide against Yazidis: UN investigation
Al Jazeera, 11 May 2021

A United Nations team investigating atrocities in Iraq found “clear and compelling evidence” that ISIL (ISIS) “committed” genocide against the Yazidi minority in 2014, its head has said, adding that the armed group successfully developed chemical weapons and used mustard gas. In a report to the UN Security Council on Monday, Karim Khan said the team had also concluded that ISIL committed war crimes against predominantly Shia unarmed cadets and personnel from the Tikrit Air Academy who were captured, tortured and subjected to mass killings in June 2014.

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How Israeli raid on al-Aqsa Mosque could constitute a war crime
Middle East Eye, 10 May 2021

If attacks by Israeli security forces on al-Aqsa Mosque continue, international attention may begin to focus on the question of whether they would constitute a war crime. Attacks on cultural sites during armed conflicts are considered to be a war crime under a number of international laws and treaties. The Rome Statute of 1998, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague, declared that anyone "intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes [or] historic monuments" was committing a war crime.

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Martial Law in Eastern Congo No Pretext for Abuse
Human Rights Watch, 07 May 2021

Martial law went into force yesterday in two conflict-ridden provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo to “swiftly end the insecurity which is killing our fellow citizens on a daily basis,” a government spokesman said. This means the military has taken over from civilian authorities in North Kivu and Ituri for an initial period of 30 days. Under the martial law orders, military authorities are now able to search people’s homes day and night, ban publications and meetings deemed against public order, restrict people’s movements, and arrest anyone for disrupting public order. Civilians will be prosecuted – contrary to regional standards – before military courts.

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Dominic Ongwen sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment
ICC, 06 May 2021

Today, 6 May 2021, Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court ("ICC" or "Court") sentenced Dominic Ongwen to 25 years of imprisonment following the Trial Judgement in which the Chamber found him guilty for a total of 61 crimes comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005. The period of his detention between 4 January 2015 and 6 May 2021, will be deducted from the total time of imprisonment imposed on him. The sentence may be appealed before the ICC Appeals Chamber by either party to the proceedings.

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