Thursday, June 30, 2011

Obama Discusses the ICC Findings on Libya's Gaddafi in June 29 News Conference

From The New York Times:

President Obama: "And I just want to point out -- I know it's something you know -- the International Criminal Court identified Qaddafi as having violated international law, having committed war crimes. What we’ve seen is reports of troops engaging in horrible acts, including potentially using rape as a weapon of war. And so when you have somebody like that in charge of large numbers of troops, I think it would be hard for us to feel confident that the Libyan people are going to be protected unless he steps down."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A New Angle to US Policy Toward the ICC: Opposing Travel by ICC Indictees

In a State Department press conference on June 27, Spokesperson Victoria Nuland underscored US support for the ICC's investigation in Libya and went on to reveal a previously unknown element of US policy:

QUESTION: Well, on that, since you spoke so glowingly of the Chinese hosting the TNC, what do you think of the Chinese hosting President Bashir? And is any vote that they participate in that relates to the ICC, does it have any meaning at all? I mean, if they’re willing to – I don’t know if he was supposed to arrive late tonight after the delay, but certainly they’re – what they’re doing flies in the face of any kind of cooperation with the ICC.

MS. NULAND: We continue to oppose invitations, facilitations, support for travel by ICC indictees. We have a longstanding policy of strongly urging other nations to do the same. We have urged China to join the international community in its call for Sudan to cooperate fully with the ICC as required by UNSC 1593.

AMICC Convener John Washburn on "Hearing Women's Voices Loud and Clear in The Hague"

From The InterDependent:

At International Criminal Court events, more women than men show up. Why?

A new and striking reminder of the importance of the International Criminal Court for women and their special support for it has emerged in the last few months. Fatou Bensouda, a lawyer from Gambia, has become a leading candidate to be elected the court’s prosecutor in December, when Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s term ends...

Read more

Monday, June 27, 2011

AMICC Urges US Cooperation to Execute ICC Arrest Warrants for Col. Gaddafi and Others


Today Pre-Trial Chamber I of the ICC issued arrest warrants for three individuals – Col. Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Sanousi, the Head of the Military Intelligence – for the crimes against humanity of murder and persecution in Libya since February 15, 2011. The warrants come just over one month after the ICC Prosecutor’s application for them on May 16. The application resulted from an investigation initiated in early March following a unanimous referral of the situation in Libya to the ICC by the UN Security Council. The decision marks the second time the ICC has issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state; the first was for Omar Al Bashir of Sudan in March 2009.


This challenge to the international community could prove an important opportunity for US leadership and support to the Court. The arrest warrants issued today provide a new and concrete opportunity to advance US national interests and to support international justice. For this reason and since July 17 is International Justice Day, AMICC has created an International Justice Day alert action which we hope you will use in your advocacy and share with others. It urges President Obama to help fulfill the mandate of Resolution 1970 which the US strongly supported by helping to carry out the arrest warrants issued today. Please share widely!

ICC in the Media, Update #33

Friday, June 24, 2011

Upcoming ICC Judicial Elections and the Independent Panel

Photo courtesy ICC-CPI

Later this year the ICC’s governing body will elect six new judges to take office in March 2012 and a new Prosecutor to take office in June 2012. This will result in a major change in ICC officials which will impact the future of the Court. The nomination period for both the judicial and prosecutor elections is now open through September 2 and the elections will be held in December at the regular Assembly of States Parties (ASP) session in New York. Information about both elections is available on the ASP website. The statements and curricula vitae of the judicial candidates will also be posted to this website soon after they are submitted.

The judicial elections are regularly held every three years to replace the six judges whose staggered nine-year terms are to expire. As in previous elections, there are certain criteria which guide the States Parties in the nomination and election procedures, including the requirements of Article 36 of the Rome Statute. This demands that judicial candidates possess certain experience and competence in criminal law or international law, among other requirements such as gender and geographic representation.

The international NGO Coalition for the ICC (CICC) in cooperation with AMICC, has established the Independent Panel on ICC Judicial Elections. The purpose of the Panel is to raise awareness about the qualifications required of candidates and to encourage States Parties to nominate the most highly-qualified candidates. It will do so by assessing candidates based on the publicly available nomination materials as “Qualified” or “Not Qualified” according to the Rome Statute requirements. More information about the Panel, including its Terms of Reference, is available here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

TAKE ACTION! Celebrate International Justice Day on July 17

July 17 is International Justice Day, the birthday of the International Criminal Court. It is an opportunity to celebrate the successes of the ICC and your community’s commitment to a progressively stronger US engagement in international justice. It is also an opportunity to remind our communities and US elected officials that the Court serves the interests of the American people.

Please let us know how we can assist you in your preparations and please let us know what you are planning so we can let others know about it through our social media and on the calendar page of the AMICC website where you can check back to find events in your area.


- Organize a panel discussion, rally, teach-in, film screening, happy hour or community picnic on or around July 17
- Bring together local organizations from the faith, legal, academic and human rights communities to collaborate on an event
- Since July 17 falls on a Sunday this year, encourage churches and other groups meeting on Sunday to recognize July in their worship or other activities
- Visit your Senator or Member of Congress to voice your support for the ICC
- Ask your Mayor, City Council or an appropriate organization for a July 17th proclamation


- Write an Op-Ed or letter to the editor for your local newspaper
- Meet with editorial boards to explain the importance of July 17
- Appear on a local radio or TV show to speak about the ICC
- Distribute flyers in support of the Court at community events, spaces and celebrations


- Follow AMICC on Twitter, and tell your followers about International Justice Day
- Join the AMICC Facebook fanpage


AMICC’s July 17 Organizing Guide
Sample Mayoral Proclamation
Factsheet on President Obama’s Evolving Policy on the ICC

Sunday, June 19, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #32

This week the news coverage of the ICC has spanned a range of topics. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, wanted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, announced that he will not attend an economic conference in Malaysia next week. Sources have reported that his failure to attend is unconnected to the warrants for his arrest, however, human rights groups (including Amnesty International) have called for his arrest should he choose to attend. Bashir is also scheduled to visit China next week after receiving an invitation from President Hu Jintao. The visit is reported to include talks to ensure peace in Sudan, but amidst reports that state-imposed violence in on the rise in Sudan NGOs and IGOs have called for China to withdraw its invitation and arrest Bashir. Last week the President of the Ivory Coast announced that the ICC is investigating crimes committed following their post-election crisis that claimed approximately 3,000 lives. The Office of the Prosecutor is currently collecting evidence that he will submit to the ICC judges to request the opening of a formal investigation. Victims of election violence have been given a deadline of 30 days to submit testimony to the Prosecutor in support of opening an investigation. Last week ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II's Presiding Judge Trendafilova endorsed a compromise to have the ICC trials held within Kenya. However, the "Kenya Six" are widely expected to object to this plan in favor of locally-administered trials, despite the fact that international experts believe that such proceedings will not be fully fair and independent. In other news, some files relating to the ICC's Libya investigation have been released. The files reportedly reveal a high-level government policy of bombarding and starving populations in Libya. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton publicly condemned Libya's policy of rape that the Office of the Prosecutor released a report on last week. The Jean-Pierre Bemba trial is continuing at the ICC with the Prosecutor bringing forward its twenty-third witness. In other news, government officials have reportedly said that the U.S. is gathering evidence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a possible referral to the ICC. Photo Credit: CNN.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

ICC in the Media, Update #31

On May 30, 2011 the ICC judges dismissed the request of the "Kenya six" for the cases to be tried locally. The court held that there was insufficient evidence of investigation and local proceedings taking place within Kenya to justify such a measure. Interestingly, even the previously dissenting Judge Kaul joined the opinion. However, the suspects have stated that they are going to appeal the decision, primarily on procedural grounds, arguing that the defense had a right to an oral hearing which they were unfairly denied, and that differing "universe[s]" of evidence between the parties created errors of fact. Also in the Kenya case, ICC judge Ekaterina Trendafilova recently ordered the Victims and Witnesses Unit to examine the Prosecutor's assessments of Kenya's witness protection status. Recently post-election violence suspects Ruto and Sang wrote to the ICC judges requesting that they sanction Prosecutor Ocampo for embarrassing the court by asking it to make "baseless assertions and allegations" in a recent evidence dispute. However, Ocampo reportedly replied by saying that the arguments lack merit, and if the attacks on his office continue, he in turn will seek sanctions against them. In other news, Ocampo reportedly told the Security Council that Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, is continuing to commit atrocity crimes within Sudan. Human Rights Watch has confirmed this statement, saying that there has been a surge in government-led attacks in the region since December 2010. Reportedly, the Office of the Prosecutor has received evidence that Gaddafi authorized a policy of "mass rape" and, to that end, issued troops with Viagra-type drugs. The Office is said to be further investigating the issue. In an ongoing case, the ICC has suspended the return of three witness to the Democratic Republic of the Congo pending further investigation into their safety if returned. Reportedly the three individuals are seeking political asylum in the Netherlands. Photo credit: The Guardian.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

LA Times Publishes Letter to the Editor by ICC Alliance Leader in Response to Op-Ed Urging the US to Join the ICC

The following, written by a leader of the International Criminal Court Alliance, an AMICC alliance in California, was published by the Los Angeles Times on June 1:

Re "Contempt of court," Opinion, May 26

Marine Lt. Col. Butch Bracknell correctly argues that joining the International Criminal Court is in the best interests of the U.S. diplomatically. In many parts of the world, the ICC is seen as the only real opportunity for justice to overcome impunity for national and political leaders who are complicit in atrocities, usually against their own citizens.

U.S. support for the ICC would help diplomatically, and it would also align the U.S. with our NATO allies on the side of the rule of law applied equally to national or political leaders for atrocity crimes.

It is another resource for international justice, stronger than sanctions but not as costly as the use of military force.

The U.S. must find ways to work more fully with the ICC.

Sean Butler

Los Angeles

The writer is treasurer of the International Criminal Court Alliance.

Response to Claims that the ICC Deters Gaddafi from Leaving Power

There appears to be an emerging argument about how the ICC is undermining peace and reconciliation in Libya. Two recent Op-Eds, excerpted below, address the ICC in different ways but present the basic premise that ICC justice is incompatible with the other actions being taken on Libya. In particular, they suggest that the threat of ICC arrest warrants deters those charged with atrocities from going into exile where they will no longer be able to commit crimes:

Jackson Diehl, After the dictators fall, Washington Post, June 5, 2011:

“The ICC prosecution means that if Gaddafi surrenders he will end up in a cell at The Hague, rather than a comfortable exile. The U.N. Security Council has the authority to suspend ICC proceedings and could perhaps do so in exchange for Gaddafi’s agreement to step down. But no one wants to admit that it was a mistake to refer Gaddafi’s case to the ICC in February, a few weeks before the Western military intervention.”

Juliette Kayyem, Too soon to indict Khadafy: Human rights cause best served by limiting his time in power, Boston Globe, June 6, 2011:

“The effort to get rid of Khadafy is a military and diplomatic one now; indeed, the Obama Administration’s silence on the indictments indicates just how complicated the ground game is. If the court’s indictments were merely symbolic, then they could be easily ignored. But, they are also risky and unnecessary. While the court certainly hopes that the indictments will make Khadafy’s allies turn on him and turn him in, they were issued in the midst of a tenuous military and complicated diplomatic effort. And they will surely complicate it further.”

These two Op-Eds, taken together, may signify an effort to undercut the ICC by presenting a false scenario. As you will recall, on February 26 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1970 which unanimously referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, thus granting the Court jurisdiction over alleged crimes there. The referral had the full support of the 15-member Council, including the United States. This was a clear call on the ICC to prosecute Gaddafi, which the Court understandably felt it could not refuse. The ICC Prosecutor announced in early March that he would open a formal investigation. On May 16, he filed an application for three arrest warrants alleging crimes against humanity by three Libyan leaders, including Col. Muammar Gaddafi. The Court has not yet acted on that application. Far from silent, to date the US and many other countries have continued to support the ICC’s actions, even in light of the NATO action taken pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The Op-Eds’ omission of the Security Council role in the referral and its unanimous and continuing support for it amounts to a self-serving sleight of hand.

The two Op-Eds also raise the question: Is exile realistic? There was some discussion of this when NATO actions began but Gaddafi has rejected it. News reports indicate that Gaddafi will most likely not leave, and the Security Council likely held this view in assessing the situation. Unlike the arrest warrants, an offer of exile does not necessarily have staying power and Gaddafi is unlikely to invoke it, regardless of whether the ICC ultimately issues an arrest warrant for him. The first Op-Ed correctly states that the Security Council may defer ICC proceedings under Article 16 of the Rome Statute. However, barring exceptional circumstances, this is very unlikely given that the Council requested the ICC action and knew well that the ICC Prosecutor would seek to indict Gaddafi. As we were reminded recently by the arrest of Ratko Mladic after over a decade on the run, it is not a question of if persons wanted by the ICC are arrested but when.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Ambassador Rapp Affirms US Support for the International Criminal Court

In a speech on May 10 in Makati, Philippines, the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen J. Rapp affirmed US support for the ICC:

The United States strongly supports the prosecution of those who are responsible for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Consistent with the ICC principle of complementarity, and as longstanding US policy, we support national efforts to achieve accountability. But when the most grave and serious crimes are committed and there is no will or capacity to prosecute at the national level, most of the countries in the world have decided, and the United States accepts, that this justice will be delivered in the International Criminal Court.

Ambassador Rapp also sought to clear up any misunderstandings about how the US views of other countries joining the ICC: "The United States respects the right of every country to join the ICC."

The Ambassador also answered questions from the audience and the press.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The US Support International Justice: US Ambassador Rapp on the ICC

(via International Justice Tribune):

The United States is lending increasing support to international tribunals, including the International Crimes Tribunal established by Bangladesh. While visiting courts in Europe, the US Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, Stephen Rapp, stopped off in The Hague and spoke to IJT.

By Geraldine Coughlan, The Hague

As Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes Issues, do you work in relation to the ICC even though the US has not ratified the Rome Statute?

That’s correct – we made that decision in this administration, to take up the role of observer in meetings of the ICC Assembly of States Parties and at the Review Conference in Kampala. As we announced at these meetings, beginning in 2009, the US government is supporting the ICC in all the cases where it has issued arrest warrants. We have been meeting with the ICC Prosecutor and Registrar and are working to furnish the greatest possible assistance that is permitted under our law for ICC investigations and prosecutions. This can include information sharing and help with witness protection and witness relocation. Also, we are providing diplomatic and political support for the arrest and transfer to the The Hague of all ICC fugitives. Basically we have made the determination that all these cases are appropriate and cry out for justice – and in the absence of genuine proceedings at the national level --they require effective international justice.


Read the whole interview here.

The Mladic Arrest: What Does It Mean for the ICC?

The delivery of Ratko Mladic to The Hague yesterday sends a chilling message to those suspects wanted by the ICC: you can run, you can hide, but you can’t escape justice. Mladic was wanted for allegedly masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in which 8,000 civilians were reported killed. He was indicted by the UN International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 1995.

The ICC and its ad hoc and hybrid predecessors rely on the cooperation of governments and international and regional organizations to carry out their orders, such as arrest warrants. Opponents to our advocacy claim that these courts are impractical and useless because governments will not provide this enforcement. But they do. The government of Serbia was under enormous pressure to arrest Mladic if it wanted to be considered for European Union membership. The Mladic arrest support the reality that that arrest warrants can be enforced through international and bilateral pressure on the target state.

Like Radovan Karadzic, his co-indictee, he evaded justice for over a decade and this loomed over the Tribunal as it began completing its mandate. The ICC will not face this kind of deadline. An important distinction of the ICC, compared to the ICTY and other tribunals like it, is its permanence. The ICC will not be shutting down anytime soon, and it will exist long after certain suspects have fallen from power or get pushed over the border from a nation no longer a safe haven.