Monday, August 23, 2010

ICC in the Media, Update #1

This post is the first in a series of weekly updates of ICC media coverage. This past week there have been a variety of ICC developments in the media, including:

1) On August 18, 2010 Saint Lucia ratified the Rome Statute and joined the International Criminal Court. The Rome Statute will enter into force on November 1 for the nation, making it the 113th member state of the ICC.

2) The U.K.'s recent announcement of increasing trade with Sudan, despite Bashir's indictment by the ICC for atrocity crimes and in defiance of US sanctions, has generated significant backlash. Africa Minister Henry Bellingham has stated that such a policy will undermine international efforts to protect human rights and bring those responsible for the atrocities in Darfur to justice.

3) In the wake of the African Union's decision not to support the ICC's arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, opponents of the Court have revived claims of anti-African discrimination by the ICC. However, this argument lacks force because, although all five situations are situated in Africa, three were referred by the countries themselves, one was referred by the UN Security Council, and one was opened by the Prosecutor with the support of the relevant member state. Regardless, some argue that opening a case outside the continent of Africa will be necessary to rebut this argument, but will be politically very challenging for the ICC to do without "stepping on the toes" of its member states.

4) Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the midst of the trial appealing his release at the International Criminal Court. The appeals judges recently decided to allow victims of Lubanga's crimes to provide testimonials to the Court, even though they did not share their experiences in the original trial. The victims' submissions are to be presented to the Court today.

5) The Lord's Resistance Army attacks in Uganda, south Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue. Since January, approximately 25,000 individuals have been forced from their homes by the LRA. Their leader, Joseph Kony is wanted by the ICC on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. National efforts backed by legislation, such as the US bill passed in May, are said to be important to apprehending Kony bringing him to justice.

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