29 March 2023 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice


Ukraine Soviet-era famine recognised as ‘genocide’ by French MPs
Aljazeera, 29 Mar 2023

The French parliament has recognised as “genocide” the 1930s starvation of millions in Ukraine under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, a move welcomed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. In a resolution adopted by 168 votes to two, the legislators called on the French government to do the same as the current Russian invasion in Ukraine revives memories of the atrocity meted out on Ukraine in the 1930s by Stalin. The text adopted in Paris on Tuesday recognised “the genocidal nature of the forced and planned famine by the Soviet authorities against the Ukrainian population in 1932 and 1933”. The 1932-33 “Holodomor” — the Ukrainian word for “death by starvation” — is regarded by Kyiv as a deliberate act of genocide by Stalin’s regime with the intention of wiping out the peasantry. Stalin’s campaign of forced “collectivisation” seized grain and other foodstuffs and left millions to starve.

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Accountability in The Hague: Recent Developments in Dutch Core International Crimes Cases regarding the Syrian Civil War
EJIL: Talk!, 29 Mar 2023

A month ago, the Dutch War Crimes Unit announced big news: for the first time in the Netherlands, an individual will be prosecuted for a crime committed against the Yazidis. The recent focus of the Dutch Public Prosecutor on possible crimes committed during the Syrian Civil War has already resulted in four convictions and at least four additional suspects have been accused of a core international crime. These cases in the Netherlands are part of a larger European development towards the prosecution of core international crimes committed during the Syrian Civil War in national courts. Several countries have increased their efforts in prosecuting core international crimes, resulting in increased  interaction between domestic jurisprudence.

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Philippines’ Marcos to shut out ICC after losing drug-war appeal
Aljazeera, 28 Mar 2023

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has said he would cut off contact with the International Criminal Court (ICC) after it rejected an appeal asking it to stop investigating his predecessor’s lethal war on drugs. Thousands of Filipinos, mainly low-level dealers and users, were killed by police during previous president Rodrigo Duterte’s fierce crackdown on illicit drugs, with many more gunned down in mysterious circumstances. The ICC is investigating widespread allegations by human rights groups and victims of systematic executions and cover-ups by police, who say they killed suspects only in self-defence. “That ends all our involvement with the ICC,” Marcos told reporters when asked about the appeal, which was rejected this week. “At this point, we essentially are disengaging from any contact, any communication.”

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The ICC's selective approach to war crimes undermines its credibility
Middle East Monitor, 28 Mar 2023

On 1 January 2015, Palestine lodged a declaration at the ICC over alleged crimes committed by Israeli armed forces since 13 June 2014 in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem. The allegations include disproportionate attacks and wilful killings of civilians during the 2014 Gaza offensive when Israeli armoured forces swept into the heavily urbanised enclave. Despite the fact that Israeli attacks have continued and, more recently, increased in number rapidly, the ICC investigation has not progressed with any meaningful action. The ICC's initiative to investigate war crimes in Ukraine is great, but to promote respect for international law and its own credibility as an independent and impartial institution, the Court must ensure equal treatment by investigating all parties involved in armed conflicts so that no war crimes go unpunished. The ICC's selective approach to certain victims and apparent lack of willingness to investigate certain powerful and preferred perpetrators undermines its credibility and its objectives in the fight against impunity and the establishment of the rule of law.

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To renew the International Criminal Court, look to the regional rights institutions
OpenGlobalRights, 28 Mar 2023

This year marks twenty years since the International Criminal Court (ICC) began its work. As the ICC passes this milestone, two vital questions arise: Is it advancing its core purposes of preventing mass atrocity and ensuring that perpetrators are prosecuted when those crimes occur? And how could it improve? According to our research, recently published in the Yale Journal of International Law and ICC Forum, the short answers to these questions are that the ICC is not doing well enough and that it could do better by learning from regional human rights institutions, especially the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights. 

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UN mission accuses EU of aiding crimes against humanity in Libya
Aljazeera, 27 Mar 2023

United Nations investigators say there is evidence that crimes against humanity have been committed against Libyans and migrants stuck in Libya, including women being forced into sexual slavery. The investigators commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council also faulted the European Union for sending support to Libyan forces that they say contributed to crimes against migrants and Libyans. Investigators said they are deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in war-scarred Libya, noting there are grounds to believe a wide array of war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed by state security forces and armed militia groups. Their findings come in an extensive new report, based on interviews with hundreds of people, including migrants and witnesses, that wraps up a fact-finding mission created nearly three years ago to probe rights violations and abuses in the North African country.

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