21 October 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


UK getting dangerously close to providing impunity for war crimes
The Strategist , 21 Oct 2020

When is a war crime not a war crime? When it is committed by a British soldier more than five years ago—or at least that will be the case if the UK parliament passes the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill. The bill has been voted through to the next stage in the House of Commons by a worrying 331 votes to 77. The government has framed the bill as protecting British heroes in the armed forces against activist lawyers and suggested that criticising it amounts to denigrating the armed forces. That approach has been largely successful in silencing opposition to the bill. If passed, the bill will create a presumption against prosecuting members of the UK’s armed forces accused of committing war crimes—including inhumane treatment, torture and murder—outside of a narrow, and arbitrary, five-year window. The attorney general will need to grant consent before any prosecution can proceed.

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Africa: Regional human rights bodies struggle to uphold rights amid political headwinds
Amnesty International , 21 Oct 2020

For a second consecutive year, Amnesty International has documented how African governments are grossly undermining regional human rights bodies by failing to comply with their decisions, ignoring their urgent appeals, neglecting to report to them on national human rights situations and starving them of resources they desperately need for operations. Governments also neglected the rights of people with disabilities and older persons by failing to ratify treaties relating to their protection.

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Fiancée Sues Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi Killing
The New York Times , 20 Oct 2020

The fiancée of the slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi accused Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in a lawsuit on Tuesday of murder and dismemberment in an attempt to silence Mr. Khashoggi’s criticism of the kingdom. The lawsuit also names more than two dozen other Saudis, including people now imprisoned for the killing as well as senior government officials who are close advisers to Prince Mohammed, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler.

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In Sudan, ICC prosecutor says al-Bashir must be tried over Darfur
Al Jazeera , 20 Oct 2020

Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and other suspects wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged war crimes and genocide in Darfur must face justice without further delay, the court’s chief prosecutor, currently on a visit to Khartoum, has said. Options for prosecuting them, including a trial in Sudan and a hybrid tribunal, were being discussed with Sudanese authorities, Fatou Bensouda told reporters on Tuesday.

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Assad’s Horrible War Crimes Are Finally Coming to Light Under Oath
Foreign Policy , 16 Oct 2020

The court has been revealing, one witness at a time—in the testimony of survivors of torture in Syrian prisons, of relatives of those who were killed, of experts, and of regime insiders—the extent of the Syrian government’s crimes against humanity. For the first time, it’s possible for outsiders to perceive how, under Assad’s leadership, atrocities became a routine way of life.

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