Thursday, April 25, 2013

John Kerry's History of Supporting International War Tribunals

Secretary of State John Kerry.  Photo Credit: US Department of State.

By Catherine Mullin

Secretary of State John Kerry has a long history of supporting international war tribunals.  He first expressed his acute awareness about atrocities during war when testifying to Congress concerning his time serving in the Vietnam War.  He continued this effort throughout his service in public office. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

The Ntaganda Case: Background and Updates on the Congolese Warlord

Mr. Bosco Ntaganda at his first hearing at the ICC. Photo Credit: ICC-CPI.

By Maryne Rondot and Catherine Mullin
On Monday, March 18, 2013, after six years of evading capture, Bosco Ntaganda walked into the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda and asked to be turned over to the International Criminal Court.  This came as a surprise to the Embassy, which was not expecting Ntaganda.  Recently Mr. Ntaganda was thought to have been living in luxury in Goma, a city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  According to Congolese government spokesman Lambert Mende, "Ntaganda had crossed into Rwanda on Saturday with help from the Rwandan army."  Ntaganda stayed at the US Embassy until a team from the ICC arrived in Kigali on the 20th to assist the US government with "logistical arrangements". He was finally transferred to The Hague on March 22nd.  The US government thanked the Rwandan, Dutch, and British government for assisting in Ntaganda´s transfer, but the specific nature of the involvement of each government has not been made public. 

Monday, April 08, 2013

Letter to the Editor of the Washington Post

RE: “Why is the International Criminal Court picking only on Africa?” By David Bosco, Op-Ed, March 29. The International Criminal Court’s (ICC) approach, in which initial situations are in fact chosen by the Prosecutor and not “the ICC”, follows a set of established phases.  There are currently preliminary examinations occurring in Afghanistan, Georgia, Guinea, Colombia, Honduras, the Republic of Korea and Nigeria. This Prosecutor has not disregarded these situations, but instead is now gathering evidence.  Cases are not chosen indiscriminately, but according to the Court’s strict standards of jurisdiction and admissibility. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Ambassador Rapp Announces Expansion of War Crimes Rewards Program to Include ICC Suspects

Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp. Photo Credit: State Department

By Catherine Mullin and Maryne Rondot

This afternoon Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, held a press conference to announce the expansion of the War Crimes Rewards Program (WCRP). Ambassador Rapp was accompanied by the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Don Yamamoto. Ambassador Rapp shared the news that Secretary of State, John Kerry, has approved the offer of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of: the top three leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA): Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen, as well as Sylvestre Mudacumurand, the military commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the nine fugitives from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) - Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, Augustin Bizimana, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Charles Ryandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo - who continue to elude justice.

The Rewards Program is managed by the Office for Global Criminal Justice (OGCJ). Previously the money in the Program was only approved for information regarding the tribunals in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Rwanda (ICTR), and Sierra Leone (SCSL). Fourteen payments were made in the past 2 years, bringing all of the 161 people sought in Yugoslavia to justice and all but nine of the 92 sought in Rwanda. As these tribunals draw to a close, the OGCJ, with the help of Rep. Royce (R-CA) and Secretary Kerry, advocated expanding and modernizing the Program so it wouldn’t become obsolete. In January 2013 President Obama signed into law the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012, S. 2318. This law allows the Secretary of State, after inter agency discussion and informing Congress, to provide monetary compensation for any information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of any foreign national accused by any foreign tribunal of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

Ambassador Rapp reiterated word’s from Secretary Kerry’s blog post in the Huffington Post today about how “impunity is the enemy of peace. Accountability is essential to preventing atrocities from taking place in the future.” He also mentioned the positive stabilizing force the expansion of the Rewards Program would have on both American, and global, security. This expansion directly supports the work of the International Criminal Court, which Ambassador Rapp praised during his remarks. The Court was noted for its assistance in the fight to end impunity and bring the worst criminals to justice, including many on the War Crimes Rewards Program list such as Joseph Kony.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

AMICC Releases New Advocacy Paper on the ICC's Investigation into Alleged War Crimes in Mali

By Maryne Rondot

On January 16, 2013 ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the opening of a formal investigation of war crimes in Mali since January 2012. The Prosecutor therefore started collecting evidence in areas where crimes have allegedly been committed and will start constructing cases. Thus, Mali became the eighth situation under investigation by the Court, all of them in Africa.

The aim of this paper is first to present a general background of the conflict, then to explain the first conclusions of the ICC that led to this decision to investigate and finally to analyze the first challenges that are likely to lie ahead for this new investigation:

The ICC's Investigation into Alleged War Crimes in Mali, by Maryne Rondot (April 2, 2013)

New UN Security Council Resolution Authorizes DRC Peacekeepers to Assist in ICC Arrests

Security Council Establishes “Intervention Brigade” for DRC
UN Security Council adopting Resolution 2098 on March 28. UN Photo: JC McIlwaine.

By Maryne Rondot

The UN recently passed historic resolution 2098, authorizing MONUSCO peacekeeping to go on the offensive and to assist the ICC in the arrest of the suspects. 

On Thursday, March 28, the UN Security Council has approved the creation of a special force within MONUSCO, the existing peacekeeping force in Congo. This intervention brigade will carry out "targeted offensive operations" against armed groups operating in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is an extraordinary step forward in the history of UN peacekeeping operations. They were initially created to protect civilians and ensure peace with no enforcement power. 

This resolution not only establishes an intervention brigade that can fight on the offensive, but also authorizes it to "support and work with the Government of the DRC to arrest and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country, including through cooperation with States of the region and the ICC."

The ICC and the UN have an agreement on their relationships. In it, the UN accepted a general “obligation of cooperation and coordination” with the Court. Since the ICC is dealing with ongoing conflicts, the peacekeeping forces have become crucial partners with the Court in the enforcement of its warrants and orders. Peacekeeping units were previously authorized to help the Court with arrests, but not with force or any enforcement power. The new resolution not only authorizes the new intervention brigade to provide information or to help collect evidence as was the case in the past. It also authorizes it to actually assist in the arrest of the suspects. This is crucial for the work of the Court.

The US supported the resolution with lobbying and its vote. This is another sign of the positive development of the US position towards the ICC. The Obama administration has shown growing cooperation with the Court on cases that serve US interests. Accordingly, the US has recently cooperated with Rwanda and the Netherlands in the transfer to the ICC of the Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda who is under an ICC arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He had surrendered himself to the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda on March 22, 2013.