13 May 2020 – NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Cambodia: Abusive “war on drugs”, rife with torture and corruption, must be overhauled
Amnesty International, 12 May 2020

The Cambodian government’s three-year long “war on drugs” campaign has fuelled a rising tide of human rights abuses, dangerously overfilled detention facilities and led to an alarming public health situation – even more so as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds – while failing in its stated objective of curbing drug use, a new investigative report by Amnesty International published today reveals. The new 78-page report, Substance abuses: The human cost of Cambodia’s anti-drug campaign, documents how the authorities prey on poor and marginalized people, arbitrarily carry out arrests, routinely subject suspects to torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and dispatch those who can’t buy their freedom to severely overcrowded prisons and pseudo “rehabilitation centres” in which detainees are denied healthcare and are subjected to severe abuse. 

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What you need to know about the ICC Investigation of war crimes in occupied Palestine
Middle East Monitor, 10 May 2020

Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has, once and for all, settled the doubts on the Court’s jurisdiction to investigate war crimes committed in occupied Palestine. On April 30, Bensouda released a 60-page document diligently laying down the legal bases for that decision, concluding that “the Prosecution has carefully considered the observations of the participants, and remains of the view that the Court has jurisdiction over the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” Bensouda’s legal explanation was itself a preemptive decision, dating back to December 2019, as the ICC Prosecutor must have anticipated an Israeli-orchestrated pushback against the investigation of war crimes committed in the Occupied Territories. 

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Australian government tells ICC it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine
The Guardian, 09 May 2020

The Australian government has told the International Criminal Court it should not investigate alleged war crimes in Palestine because Palestine is “not a state”, arguing the court prosecutor’s investigation into alleged attacks on civilians, torture, attacks on hospitals, and the use of human shields, should be halted on jurisdictional grounds. Australia was lobbied to make the submission to the court by Israel, which is not a party to the court. But the office of the prosecutor has rejected Australia’s argument, saying it had not formally challenged Palestine’s right to be a party to the court before. 

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Implications of the COVID-19 Crisis On the Accountability Agenda
International Justice Monitor, 07 May 2020

The outbreak of Sars-Cov-2 has deeply impacted every aspect of life. The virus' lethality and its wider toll on human wellbeing (particularly as a result of economic hardship) are the most apparent impacts. Dire human suffering is taking place and will continue to endure. There have been multiple significant changes to how we live, and, in the future, many other dimensions of human life will be altered. Most of us working on justice for atrocity crimes - whether nationally or internationally - have experienced a slowdown or halt of social and judicial processes linked to the struggle against impunity. In many parts of the world, the lockdown has translated into suspended hearings, but the passage of time can result in impediments that deal deadly blows to justice claims (e.g. as a result of the tolling of terms and statutes of limitations). 

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Nepal: Supreme Court’s Decision Reaffirms the Need to Amend Transitional Justice Law
Human Rights Watch, 01 May 2020

The decision by Nepal’s Supreme Court to reject a petition by the government asking that it reviews its 2015 ruling against amnesties for grave conflict-era crimes is an important step in securing truth, justice, and reparations for the thousands of victims of the country’s decade-long conflict, Amnesty International, TRIAL International, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and Human Rights Watch said today. The armed conflict between Maoist and government forces ended in 2006, but victims of serious abuses by both sides are still awaiting justice, accountability, and reparations. 

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