22 Jan 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Netanyahu calls for sanctions over ICC war crimes investigation
By The Guardian, 21 Jan 2020

Benjamin Netanyahu has called for sanctions against the international criminal court and people who work for it, a month after its chief prosecutor announced she intended to investigate alleged Israeli war crimes. “I think that everybody should rise up against this,” the Israeli prime minister said in an interview with Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world’s largest Christian television network. “The US government under President Trump has spoken forcefully against the ICC for this travesty, and I urge all your viewers to do the same. To ask for concrete actions, sanctions, against the international court – its officials, its prosecutors, everyone.” Netanyahu’s calls come months after Washington used a similar tactic to block a separate potential ICC investigation into its troops’ conduct in Afghanistan. It announced in March that it would deny entry to ICC officials, and later revoked a visa held by the ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

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Myanmar finds war crimes but no genocide in Rohingya crackdown
By AlJazeera America, 20 Jan 2020

A commission set up to investigate the 2017 crackdown in Rakhine that led hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim Rohingya to flee Myanmar, has concluded that while some soldiers probably committed war crimes there was no genocide. The Independent Commission of Enquiry (ICOE) released the findings of its investigation, but not the full report, to the country's president on Monday, a few days before the United Nations' top court is set to rule on whether to impose urgent measures to stop the alleged continuing genocide in Myanmar. The ICOE conceded some security personnel had used disproportionate force and committed war crimes and serious human rights violations, including the "killing of innocent villagers and destruction of their homes". 

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Four Witnesses Conclude Testimony as Kwoyelo’s Trial is Adjourned to March 2020
By International Justice Monitor, 17 Jan 2020

 The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), resumed this week before the International Crimes Division (ICD) sitting at the High Court of Uganda in Gulu. Over the course of three days, the court heard testimony from four prosecution witnesses, who all testified in closed sessions. The trial was presided over by a panel of four judges: Duncan Gaswaga, Jane Kiggundu, Michael Elabu, and Stephen Mubiru. Kwoyelo is facing 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.

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The Future of Accountability Efforts in Guatemala in the Balance as New Hard-Line Government Takes Office
By International Justice Monitor, 15 Jan 2020

Advocates of accountability for grave crimes and corruption are deeply concerned that under Guatemala’s new presidential administration and Congress, hard-won gains in the battle against corruption and impunity will give way to new forms of criminal activity, cooptation of the state, and attacks against human rights defenders. President Alejandro Giammattei, who took office on January 14, is alleged to have close ties to the old networks that formed the heart of the “hidden powers” known as Illegal Clandestine Security Apparatuses (Cuerpos Ilegales y Aparatos Clandestinos de Seguridad (CIACS)). He is allegedly close to the retired military officials who make up the Association of Military Veterans of Guatemala (AVEMILGUA). AVEMILGUA arose from opposition to the peace process and went on to steadfastly oppose the work of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) and the anti-corruption and anti-impunity efforts it helped put in place. 

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Why the Gambia’s plea for the Rohingya matters for international justice
By The Conversation, 14 Jan 2020

In early December, the International Court of Justice heard arguments filed by the Gambia against Myanmar for violations of the Genocide Convention. This included a request for “provisional measures”, asking that the UN court immediately order Myanmar to cease genocidal activities and to report to it within four months. Under the 1948 Genocide Convention any member state can bring a claim against any other and be heard by the International Court of Justice. This is in keeping with the principle that the act of genocide harms all of humanity, not just those directly involved in it. Yet the case against Myanmar is only the third invocation of the Genocide Convention before the UN court. It is the first case ever to consider acts and actors of non-contiguous, non-warring countries.

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