Tag Archives: international criminal court

Observations of an Expat: Love, Hate and the International Criminal Court

America has a love-hate relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC). At the moment it is a virulent hate.

Ironically, Washington also claims to be the chief supporter of International law. “The United States does believe that international law matters,” said John Bellinger, the State Department’s chief Legal Adviser. “We help develop it, rely on it, abide by it.”

The problem is that you cannot cherry pick the law. To do so is to choose the road called hypocrisy which leads – eventually – to chaos.

It is the charge of hypocrisy that America risks in its relations with the ICC. It applauded seeing the world’s top criminal court send brutal African dictators to prison. It has celebrated the court’s warrants for the arrest of Vladimir Putin. But it has condemned as “outrageous” the decision of ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan to request warrants for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the Gaza War.

There are several reasons for American duplicity. Washington fears that the arrest warrants will only make the Israelis more intransigent. It also believes that it is important to be seen to be supporting an ally; and, finally there is the sovereignty issue. As a super power, Washington has difficulty with any international law or organisation which appears to supersede American law.  The US, for instance, has failed to ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and will almost certainly pull out of the climate change convention – again – if Donald Trump is elected.

Washington has had doubts about the ICC since before its founding by the Rome Statute in 1998. It refused to sign the treaty documents, although 123 other countries (including Britain) have. If a country is a signatory to the Rome Statute then they are obligated to detain and extradite anyone for whom the ICC has issued an arrest warrant. Being a non-signatory, does not protect a country’s citizens from investigation.

The problem for America was the activities of its soldiers and the CIA around the world. In August 2002 President George W. Bush signed the American Service Members Protection Act, aka “The Hague Invasion Act”. This gave the president the power to “use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release of any US or Allied personnel being detained, or imprisoned, on behalf of, or at the request of, the International Criminal Court.” Effectively this meant that any country that carried out an ICC arrest warrant against an American citizen risked the wrath of Washington.

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Why Putin’s arrest warrant matters

In May 2022 Putin issued a new decree to make it easier for Russians to adopt Ukrainian children. In addition, Russian officials announced it would extend government support to Russian families who adopt kidnapped Ukrainian children resulting in more than 16,000 being deported to Russia. The abducted children are forced to learn Russian, are denied contact with their families to “Russify” them by providing “patriotic education” and is considered an act of Genocide.

Although some children are being taken from orphanages, many have parents who were coerced into allowing their children to go and others were simply murdered. Daria Gerasimchuk, a Ukrainian government ombudswoman, told the Observer: “They kill the parents, for whatever reason, and kidnap the child. In other cases, they just grab the child directly from the family, perhaps to punish that family.” Such reports are similar to the Canadian Residential Schools and the Nazi Lebensborn program.

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Observations of an Expat: The Filipino Monster and Justice

Rodrigo Duterte steps down as President of the Philippines in June 2022. He will be 77 and is planning for a quiet, non-eventful retirement—unlikely.

Nipping at his heels are the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. They want Duterte to stand trial for the thousands of extra-judicial killings that took place first in the city of Davao while he was Mayor, and then across the Philippines during his presidential tenure. However, the ICC faces formidable hurdles in placing Duterte in the dock. But first why do they want him there?

Apart from being a foul-mouthed, rude, socially unacceptable, misogynistic, populist politician, Rodrigo Duterte is the man behind thousands of extra-judicial murders. First during his 22 years as Mayor of Davao and then as President. He does not deny the accusation. He revels in it.

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Opinion: Pressing Israel

Six months ago Israel was engaged in action which Nick Clegg described as ‘deliberately disproportionate’, killing over 2000 Palestinians – many of them women and children – and the lives of 70 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

During the war Nick said that nothing would be solved without talking.  And now’s a good time to remind Israel’s PM Benyamin Netanyahu about that, especially given events since then.

Like Britain, Israel will have elections, in March.  The parties are trying to outdo each other on security.  Recently the right-wing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said that “A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable.”  With views like that, the likelihood of negotiations being restarted – let alone a peace deal being achieved – is extremely remote.

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Good news from the International Criminal Court

A good justice system both dispenses justice and is seen to do so. That makes the appointment of Gambian Fatou Bensouda as the International Criminal Court’s new Chief Prosecutor particularly welcome.

Bensouda is the first African to hold the post of Chief Prosecutor, an important step in helping the ICC maintain the confidence of African countries given how often Africans are up before the ICC.

The ICC’s remit is not limited to Africa and nor are the atrocities it can investigate confined to one part of our globe, but in practice a very high proportion of the International Criminal Court’s high profile cases recently …

Posted in Europe / International and News | 2 Comments

In other news: court case starts over Kenyan violence, an intern pledge and a closed tax loophole

The trial of six Kenyans at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the deaths of 1,200 people following the country’s 2007 elections has started this week.

Ed Miliband has been notably silent over Nick Clegg’s proposals to open up internships to a wider social mix of people. Perhaps that’s because, as LabourList reports, he signed a pre-leadership election pledge that he’s now pretty much ignoring?

The Financial Times reports, “A loophole in the schemes used by wealthy earners to transfer pensions overseas was blocked on Wednesday in a move the Treasury said showed its determination to crack down …

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Opinion: Khartoum’s Omar Bashir should not be let off the hook

As people across North Africa and the Middle East rise up against their oppressive regimes, the international community is preparing to let Sudan’s dictator, Field Marshall Omar Bashir, off the hook for killing millions of his own citizens.

In 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted Bashir for genocide in Sudan’s remote western region of Darfur where his policy of ethnic cleansing led to the deaths of 300,000 people. For years Khartoum used the same tactic, arming poor Arab nomads to kill their black Africa neighbours to similar effect in South Sudan, where an estimated two million died. …

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Six senior Kenyans face charges over deaths of 1,200

In another important step for the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Wednesday its prosecutor announced charges against six high-profile Kenyans, including the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta. The charges all relate to the violence that killed 1,200 people after disputed elections in 2007:

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says in recent days there has been a degree of panic among some members of the usually untouchable political elite.

Most Kenyans feel these prosecutions are vital in order to undermine the deeply rooted culture of impunity, our correspondent says.

The key question now is whether those accused will hand

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War crimes trial starts for Jean-Pierre Bemba

During the week the trial for war crimes of former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba began in The Hague.

Any trial at the International Criminal Court is notable given the severity of the crimes that have to alleged to get before the court, but Bemba’s case has two particular features.

Bemba is the highest profile politician to have been brought before the court (Slobodan Milošević was being tried by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia when he died).

In addition, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial is the first before the ICC to centre on rape, with allegations of mass rapes leading …

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