13 Feb 2019 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


ICC Judge Schmitt Counsels Resilience to Preserve International Justice
Just Security, 13 Feb 2019

At a difficult time for the International Criminal Court (ICC)—criticism over recent rulings, resistance from current and prospective members, and threats from the United States to sanction and ban its judges and prosecutors—Judge Bertram Schmitt encourages a long view. The following is adapted from closing remarks he gave in October at the annual Nuremberg Forum conducted by the International Nuremberg Principles Academy in the legendary Courtroom 600, the site of the major war crimes trials of Nazi leaders after World War II in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice in Germany. This time, the conference marked the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute that created the ICC. Judge Schmitt, who serves as president of the Court’s Trial Division, offers a message of resilience and determination.

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Ogoni widows testify at The Hague over Shell's alleged complicity in killings
The Guardian, 12 Feb 2019

Four Nigerian women at the centre of a long-running legal battle against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell saw their historic case reach the Hague on Tuesday.
The company is accused of complicity in the state execution of nine Ogoni protesters and human right abuses dating back to 1993. The allegations concern the 1990s violent government crackdown in Ogoniland, in the oil-rich Niger delta region, where oil spills inflicted environmental damage on a huge scale.
The Netherlands court will decide whether a case can proceed after hearing arguments from both sides on Tuesday. 

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Convictions in criminal proceedings depend on prosecution’s evidence
Standard Digital, 08 Feb 2019

In adversarial systems, such as Kenya’s, the prosecution must place before a court evidence of such incontrovertible quality that satisfy specified thresholds regarding the commission of a crime. Only then would a court hand down a finding of guilt, convicting an accused of the crime in question.
Recently, when the International Criminal Court’s trial chamber handed down a not-guilty-verdict in the Gbagbo and Bemba cases, protests suggesting that the non-conviction of these high profile accused persons would sound a death knell to international criminal justice were voiced.
However, this is far from the truth if the authentic character of criminal justice system were to be considered. A criminal justice system is not voided by an unsuccessful attempt at prosecuting an individual. Rather, real jeopardy confronts the system when courts are harangued, cornered and pressured by interest groups to deliver a specific outcome.

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Building trust in Nigeria’s criminal justice system
Transparency International, 07 Feb 2019

According to a 2017 survey, Nigeria’s over 300,0000 police officers make up close to half of all public officials on the receiving end of bribery in the country.
The Nigerian Police Force (NPF) has been making some progress against this problem through a complaint channel called the Public Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU). Between November 2015 and November 2017, the PCRRU registered over 7000 complaints, over 80 per cent of which were resolved, leading to the sanctioning of 81 officers.
Set against the scale of the problem, however, those numbers still seem low. This might be due to a lack of awareness of the PCRRU’s mandate, and citizens’ low trust in the police.

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The right to reparation: laudable goal or empty promise?
Open Global Rights, 07 Feb 2019

While criminal justice is clearly an irreplaceable part of any transitional justice arrangement, reparation is at least equally important—but often forgotten. Criminal trials are generally ill-suited for awarding reparation, and criminal justice can, at best, facilitate awarding material compensation. On the other hand, when considering large scale atrocities—and the fact that individual perpetrators in these circumstances are often indigent—the prospect of victim compensation via criminal proceedings remain extremely limited.

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