SOUTH AFRICA: CONTINENT WIDE OUTCRY AT ICC WITHDRAWAL
22 October 2016
South Africa publicly announced on October 21, 2016, that it has notified the United Nations secretary-general of its intent to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
South Africa’s announced withdrawal from the ICC is a slap in the face for victims of the most serious crimes and should be reconsidered, African groups and international organizations with a presence in Africa said. The groups urged other African countries to affirm their commitment to the ICC, the only court of last resort to which victims seeking justice for mass atrocities can turn.
“We call on the government of South Africa to reconsider taking this enormous backwards step in the struggle for justice and to restore its place as a leader in promoting accountability for the most serious crimes and human rights abuses,” said Arnold Tsunga, Director of ICJ’s Africa Regional Programme.
South Africa is the first country to notify the UN secretary-general of withdrawal from the ICC. South Africa’s announcement that it will withdraw from the ICC comes after the country’s court of appeal concluded the government violated its international and domestic legal obligations in not arresting ICC fugitive Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June 2015, when he visited South Africa. A government appeal was pending, but on October 21, 2016, the government indicated that it has withdrawn the appeal.
The full press release can be accessed here.
EGYPT: AUTHORITIES MUST END POLITICIZATION OF THE JUDICIARY AND ENSURE ITS INDEPENDENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
12 October 2016
The Egyptian authorities must end executive interference in judicial affairs and act to ensure that the judiciary is independent and that it serves to safeguard human rights and uphold the rule of law, the ICJ said.
The statement came as the ICJ released its new report Egypt’s Judiciary: a Tool of Repression. Lack of Effective Guarantees of Independence and Impartiality.
The report documents the many ways in which the judiciary has been used as a tool to silence those suspected of opposing the Military and Executive. This include prosecutors and judges initiating and continuing prosecutions on unfounded charges; adopting a presumption in favour of pre-trial detention; applying laws in violation of human rights standards and refusing to permit constitutional challenges to those laws; and failing to respect fundamental fair trial rights.
“Egypt’s military and executive have subordinated the judiciary to their political will, making it a docile tool in their on-going, sustained crackdown on human rights in Egypt,” said Said Benarbia, ICJ MENA Director. “In doing so, judges and prosecutors have abdicated their primary responsibility in upholding the rule of law. Rather than acting as a check on the arbitrary exercise of power, judges themselves have become complicit in violating the very rights they are mandated to protect,” he added.
The report contains 136 recommendations to the Egyptian authorities aimed at guaranteeing, in law and practice, the independence and accountability of the judiciary in Egypt.
The full press release and report (in English and Arabic) can be found here.
PROPOSALS FOR ELEMENTS OF A LEGALLY BINDING INSTRUMENT ON TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES
20 October 2016
In a paper published today, the ICJ recommends a series of substantive elements that it considers as key to an effective treaty on business and human rights.
The ICJ is publishing this paper as the second session of the open ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIWG) will be held next week (24-28 October).
The ICJ supports the objective of establishing an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises, with a focus on business accountability and access to effective remedies for human rights abuses by business enterprises.
There is a substantial international protection gap to be filled in this respect, on which the ICJ has previously commented extensively. It is with a view to closing this gap and ensuring that international human rights law can optimally fulfil its protective function that the ICJ is engaging in the present treaty process.
The full press release and briefing paper are accessible via the links.
THAILAND: ICJ WORKSHOP ON USE OF TELECOMMUNICATION EVIDENCE IN CRIMINAL CASES
16 October 2016
On 15-16 October 2016, the ICJ held a Workshop for justice sector actors in Thailand’s deep South on “the Use of Telecommunication Evidence in Criminal Cases” for police, special investigators, prosecutors and lawyers. The attendees included 30 public prosecutors, police and Department of Special Investigation officials, 15 defense lawyers, and observers from the Thailand Institute of Justice and the Asia Foundation.
The objective of the workshop, held in Hat Yai, was to discuss how telecommunication information may be used as part of an effective criminal investigation, and the ways in which prosecutors, lawyers and judges should consider approaching the use of this kind of information as evidence at trial.
Kingsley Abbott, ICJ Senior International Legal Adviser, opened by saying that the use of telecommunication evidence is one tool that can be used in an effective investigation of serious criminal and security related cases followed by fair trials. However, it is important to ensure that the acquisition and use of this information as evidence fully respects the right to privacy guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR) to which Thailand is a State Party. The ICJ firmly believes that respect for human rights and the rule of law must be the bedrock in countering terrorism and violent crime.
The Workshop observed a moment of silence for the passage of the late King Rama IX.
Further information about the workshop can be found here.
PRESS STATEMENTS, ADVOCACY AND INTERNET ARTICLES