30 November 2022 - NPWJ News Digest on International Criminal Justice

Articles

Sri Lanka: Judges affirm the need to address unconscious bias and gender stereotypes in the administration of justice
ICJ, 29 Nov 2022

At a Judicial Dialogue on Access to Justice for Women conducted by the International Commission of Jurists in partnership with the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, participants agreed on the need to confront implicit biases and stereotypes that hamper substantive gender equality enhance women’s access to justice. Thirty-five (35) Magistrates and District Court judges from all over Sri Lanka participated in the second Judicial Dialogue in Colombo on 26 and 27 November and organized under an ICJ initiative on Enhancing Women’s Access to Justice project. Delivering the keynote address, ICJ Commissioner Mikiko Otani stressed that “it is necessary to focus on and obligate States to take concrete measures to eliminate discrimination against women existing in various forms and in various areas of women’s lives.” Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena, Director of the Sri Lanka Judges’ Institute, also observed that while historical values must be preserved, historical practices of discrimination should be ended. The Dialogue focused on the responsibility of judges to interpret domestic legislation in line with Sri Lanka’s international human rights obligations, including the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

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ICC President and Acting Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims visit Central African Republic to witness Court’s work on the ground
ICC, 28 Nov 2022

From 22 to 26 November 2022, the President of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “the Court”), Judge Piotr Hofmański, and the Acting Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the ICC, Ms. Franziska Eckelmans, paid an official visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) to witness first-hand the Court’s work on the ground, including the assistance programme of the TFV aimed at redressing harm suffered by victims of Rome Statute crimes in situations before the ICC as well as to engage with the authorities and stakeholders in the country. President Hofmański and his delegation met with the President of the Central African Republic, H.E. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and the Minister of Justice, Arnaud Djoubaye-Abazene, to thank them for the many important forms of assistance that CAR authorities have provided to the ICC in relation to the Court’s operations, and to discuss future collaboration in the fight against impunity. President Touadéra and Minister Djoubaye-Abazene assured President Hofmański of the CAR’s full commitment to cooperation with the Court.

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Iran denounces UN fact-finding mission
Al-Monitor, 28 Nov 2022

The spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry today denounced the decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council to launch a fact-finding mission regarding Iran’s latest protests. In response to the council's resolution to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate Iran over protests that began on Sept. 16, Nasser Kanani said at a press conference, “Hasty use of human rights mechanisms and the use as tools [of] such mechanisms against independent countries is rejected and condemned and will not progress human rights. The Islamic Republic of Iran will not have any cooperation with a political committee under the name of a fact-finding mission.” On Nov. 24, the UN Human Rights Council passed the resolution to investigate Iran over the use of deadly force to suppress protests that began after a young woman died in police custody after she was apprehended by the morality police. The protests quickly spread across the country, and so far nearly 400 people have been killed, a high number of them teenagers. 

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FIRST SELEKA TRIAL AT THE ICC, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Justice Info Net , 25 Nov 2022

For the first time, the International Criminal Court is dealing with crimes allegedly committed by the ‘Seleka’ rebel forces who pushed then president François Bozizé out of office and installed Michael Djotodia as president of the Central African Republic in 2013. Mahamat Said trial opened on September 26 and 12 prosecution witnesses have testified so far. 80% of them will be anonymous and the trial "opaque", points out the defense. In a new trial started in September before the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mahamat Said is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Central African national, handed over by his country in January 2021, is accused by prosecutor Karim Khan of having been “a senior Seleka colonel operating in [the capital] Bangui” and a “de facto head of the Central Office for the Repression of Banditry, the ‘OCRB’, effectively putting him in charge of this police unit, including all Seleka who were stationed there”. The document containing the charges argues that the opposition to president Bozizé formed a coalition of “several previously uncoordinated political factions” known as the Seleka and that it possessed “sufficient characteristics to establish that it was an organised armed group, including possessing an ability to carry out military operations, and to take whole territory, and having significant logistical capacity.”

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UN Experts: Taliban Curbs on Women Amount to Crime Against Humanity
VOA News, 25 Nov 2022

A group of independent experts at the United Nations has warned that Taliban restrictions on women’s rights and freedoms in Afghanistan could amount to a "crime against humanity." The experts demanded in a joint statement Friday that the Taliban treatment of women and girls “should be investigated as gender persecution” under international law. Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter promptly rejected the allegations as “disrespect to the sacred religion of Islam and against international rules.” Since returning to power in August 2021, the Taliban have ordered women to cover their faces in public and not undertake long road trips without a close male relative. They have instructed many female government staff members to stay at home. 

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Iran: Landmark UN fact-finding mission marks long-awaited turning point in tackling systematic impunity
Amnesty International, 24 Nov 2022

Responding to today’s announcement that the UN Human Rights Council has passed a landmark resolution to establish a fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022, especially with respect to women and children, Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said: “This important and long overdue step shows that the cries of people in Iran for justice have finally been heard. We hope the establishment of this fact-finding mission marks a fundamental shift in the international community’s approach to tackling the crisis of systematic impunity that has long fueled crimes under international law and other serious human rights violations in Iran. The resolution not only enhances international scrutiny of the dire situation in Iran, but also puts in place a process to collect, consolidate and preserve crucial evidence for future prosecutions."

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