Tag Archives: ICC

Alive and Well: Piracy

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Continuing decline in the number of reported incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery against ships has been revealed in the second quarter piracy report of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB), published today. According to the report, the first half of 2017 saw a total of 87 incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre compared with 97 for the same period in 2016…

[I]n the first six-months of 2017, 63 vessels were boarded, 12 fired upon, four were hijacked and attacks were attempted on another eight vessels. A total of 63 crew have been taken hostage so far, this year while 41 have been kidnapped from their vessels, three injured and two killed.

The encouraging downward trend has been marred however by the hijacking of a small Thai product tanker en route from Singapore to Songkhla, Thailand. The hijacking, at the end of June 2017, was conducted by six heavily armed pirates who transferred 1,500 MT of gas oil to another vessel. The incident followed a similar pattern to a series of product tanker hijackings in the region which occurred approximately every two weeks between April 2014 and August 2015….

Cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines has been recognised as the fundamental reason for the overall decline in the number of reported incidents in and around the Philippines…

Somali pirates still retain the skills and capacity to attack merchant ships far from coastal waters. Pirates in Nigeria continue to dominate when it comes to reports of kidnappings

Excerpts from Second quarter report reveals 87 incidents of maritime piracy in first half of year,  ICC Commercial Crime Services, Press Release, July 4, 2017.

Drugs War and Human Rights: the International Criminal Court

A petition signed by more than 18,000 people also asks the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Mexico’s most-wanted drugs lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.  The Mexican government has denied the accusations of crimes against humanity.  It says its security policy cannot constitute an international crime.  Human rights lawyer Netzai Sandoval filed a complaint with the ICC in the Hague, asking it to investigate the deaths of hundreds of civilians at the hands of the security forces and drugs gangs, as well as alleged torture and rape.

“The violence in Mexico is bigger than the violence in Afghanistan, and bigger than the violence in Colombia,” Mr Sandoval told Reuters news agency.  “We want the prosecutor to tell us if war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Mexico, and if the president and other top officials are responsible”.  The office of the prosecutor said it had received the request and would study it and make a decision in due course.

The Mexican government responded to the complaint when the petition was launched in October.  “The federal government categorically rejects that security policy could be considered an international crime,” the foreign ministry said in a statement. “In our country society is not victim of an authoritarian government or of systematic abuses by the armed forces,” it added. “Mexico has a rule of law under which crime and impunity are fought without exceptions”. The government also stressed its commitment to human rights and responsibility to protect its citizens from criminal violence.

Mexico is a signatory to the 2002 Statute of Rome that established the ICC as the world’s first permanent international war crimes court.  The ICC investigates and tries cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity in countries that are unwilling or unable to prosecute them on their own.  Most of its cases are initiated after referral by the country involved or the UN Security Council, but the prosecutor’s office can also start investigations on its own initiative on the basis of information received from individuals or organisations.  So far, all its cases have been in Africa, but the prosecutor’s office has begun preliminary examinations in other countries including Afghanistan, Colombia, Honduras and Korea.  Correspondents say any decision to begin an investigation into alleged crimes in Mexico could take months or even years to reach.

More than 40,000 Mexicans have died in drug-related violence since December 2006, when President Calderon began using the military to combat the drug cartels. Many of the dead are thought to be members of the gangs, killed by the security forces or in clashes with rival groups, but there have also been a growing number of civilian casualties.  Last month a report by Human Rights Watch found evidence that the Mexican police and military were involved in 24 killings and 39 disappearances in five states, as well as systematic torture.  It said few of the cases it documented were properly investigated, in part because Mexican soldiers are subject only to military courts.

Mexico activists seek ICC investigation of drugs war, BBC News, Nov. 25, 2011

International Criminal Court Track Record: targeting Africa’s Dictatators

The International Criminal Court in The Hague is about to open a formal investigation into post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire at the request of the country’s new president, Alassane Ouattara… In Libya Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, Africa’s longest-serving leader, is wondering whether he may face the same fate, after the ICC’s chief prosecutor announced that he was seeking three arrest warrants (with names so far undisclosed) for those deemed most responsible for the killing of hundreds of unarmed people since pro-democracy protests began in February….  In The Hague a verdict is expected within months at the trial of Charles Taylor, Liberia’s former president, before a special court dealing with Sierra Leone. In Sudan President Omar al-Bashir is still wary of falling into the ICC’s net, three years after being charged with genocide in his country’s western province of Darfur.

The court’s statutes let it prosecute people for suspected genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in any member state when that state is “unwilling or unable” to do so…[1]This has usually been done at the request of the state itself, as in Uganda, the Central African Republic (CAR) and Congo. [2]But it can also investigate atrocities in non-member states at the request of the UN Security Council, if deemed to threaten regional or international peace and security. This is what happened with Darfur, where the Security Council first drew the court’s attention to the atrocities. Now the council has also referred Libya to the court.

This has been a tricky route. Three of the Security Council’s five permanent members—America, Russia and China—did not sign up to the ICC. A threatened veto by just one of them is enough to block a mooted referral. But with Darfur, international alarm over the spreading rape and bloodshed persuaded America and China to abstain rather than oppose Sudan’s referral in 2005. Since then the UN Security Council has sent only one other such case to the court. But the court’s boosters have taken heart from the unanimous vote against Libya in February, arguing that it may mark a milestone in the nine-year-old outfit’s struggle for worldwide acceptance.  Most of the Arab world refuses to accept a court that much of the poor world still sees as a Western-dominated tribunal, intent on holding the have-nots to account while giving impunity to the rich and powerful. Jordan is the ICC’s only Arab member.

These days the ICC’s biggest opponents are in Africa, which provides the court with its biggest group of members (31 out of 114) and is the scene of all the cases currently being investigated or prosecuted: in the CAR, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Uganda. Accusing the court of unfairly targeting African countries, the 53-member African Union (AU) is again calling for “African solutions to African problems”. It particularly dislikes the court’s increasing willingness to go after sitting presidents. At its summit next month it plans to extend the authority of its African Court of Justice and Human Rights to cover criminal as well as civil cases. …It may not work. The reason so many African cases are before the court is not because of bias; all the ICC’s cases have been referred to it either by the UN Security Council or by the countries themselves. It is because the standards of justice in Africa are often poor… The ICC was set up as a court of last resort. It may not take on cases if the country concerned has a competent, independent justice system ready to prosecute alleged perpetrators and give them a fair trial. Its statutes say nothing about having to defer to regional courts. Many autocratic African leaders appear ready to protect their erring colleagues from the law in case they may one day need the favour returned…

The ICC’s big weakness, apart from its astronomical cost and drawn-out procedures, is its dependence on others to help arrest suspects. But even this may be changing. South Africa and Botswana have said Mr Bashir is not welcome. Congo has handed over three of its suspects to the court and France a fourth, while Belgium has handed over Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese vice-president, for alleged atrocities in the CAR. America is actively supporting the hunt for four rebel leaders of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, which continues to wreak havoc in the region. Some suspects, including three Darfuri rebel leaders and six Kenyans, have appeared voluntarily before the court. Five others are in custody, including four on trial. So the court, though still widely regarded in Africa with suspicion and sometimes even derision, may yet prove to have teeth.

Excerpts, International justice in Africa: The International Criminal Court bares its teeth, Economist, May 14, 2011, at 57