Friday, April 27, 2018

Al Hassan Case at the ICC - Gender Crimes

Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud ("Al Hassan"), a Malian national born on 19 September 1977, faced ICC charges of sexual and gender-based crimes. On 4 April 2018, he made his first appearance before the ICC after the Pre-trial Chamber issued the arrest warrant for him on 27 March 2018. The confirmation of charges hearing was scheduled provisionally for 24 September 2018. The case against AI Hassan was recorded under the ICC Mali situation, which was referred by the government of Mali to the ICC to investigate alleged crimes committed on the territory of Mali by its nationals since January 2012. This is also the second case in Mali situation after the case against Mr. AI Mahdi, who among a long list of charges was also declared guilty of the war crime of attacking religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, in June and July 2012, and was sentenced 9 years’ of imprisonment for his commission of crime.  

According to the arrest warrant, Mr. Al Hassan is alleged to have been involved in the activities of armed groups AI-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb ("AQIM") and Ansar Eddine which took control of the city of Timbuktu. He is alleged to have committed crimes and religious and gender-based persecution against the civilian population in Timbuktu. Specifically, the Pre-Trial Chamber has concluded that the evidence submitted by the Office of the Prosecutor is sufficient enough to provide reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. AI Hassan has committed crimes against humanity (torture, rape and sexual slavery; persecution of the inhabitants of Timbuktu on religious and gender grounds; and other inhumane acts) and war crimes (rape and sexual slavery; violence to person and outrages upon personal dignity; and attacks intentionally directed against buildings dedicated to religion and historic monument in Timbuktu, Mali, between 2012 and 2013. He is further charged with arbitrary punishment of civilians without trial in Timbuktu who broke the rules and prohibitions imposed by those armed groups. These requirements affect all areas of public life.

In particular, the case against Mr. AI Hassan shows ICC’s commitment to prosecute sexual and gender-based violence and to protect the interests of victims and witnesses of such crimes, which is a very important subject to many Americans who feel deeply about it. The Rome Statute is the first international treaty permanently enforcing international law about various forms of sexual and gender-based crimes, including rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and other forms of sexual violence. Recognizing the enormous obstacles and challenges to the effective investigation and prosecution of these crimes, the Prosecutor has included this issue as strategic goals in her Strategic Plan 2012-2015. In addition, The Office of the Prosecutor Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes launched in June 2014 affirms the commitment of the Office to paying special attention to sexual and gender-based crimes in line with statutory provisions and provides clear and comprehensive guidance on issues regarding with sexual and gender-based crimes in all aspects of operations.

Written by Yixuan Ouyang

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