Pretoria: The Government of the Republic of South Africa condemns the sentencing of the 25 Saharawi human rights activists on 17 February 2013 by a Moroccan military tribunal following 27 months of detention. The activists had participated in a protest camp in the Western Sahara town of Gdeim Izik in November 2010 against the continued systematic repression of the Saharawi people by the Moroccan regime. This protest camp was brutally dismantled by the Moroccan security forces resulting in the deaths of several Saharawi people and leaving scores injured. In terms of international law, a Moroccan military court does not have the jurisdiction to prosecute acts and events taking place in Western Sahara, which is regarded as a non-self governing territory by the United Nations.
Johannesburg: On 16 March Zimbabweans will vote either “yes” or “no” in a referendum that may usher in the country’s new constitution and with it Zimbabwe’s much anticipated general election. “Free and fair” and “elections” have hardly been synonymous in Zimbabwe with public processes in the past being marred by intimidation, violence and a lack of accountability and transparency. This has rendered some politically tainted wrongs non-justiciable in Zimbabwe and has seen South African courts in some circumstances weighing in – not as an alternative to the Zimbabwean justice system, but as a constitutional imperative.
Nairobi: One week before the elections in Kenya, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, called on the Kenyan Government and the international community to significantly scale up efforts to prevent internal displacement in preparation for the elections due on Monday 4 March. “Instances of localized violence likely to result in the arbitrary displacement of persons in Kenya have steadily increased in the run up to the elections, although intervention by Government has helped to improve the situation,” Mr. Beyani said, recalling that internal displacement in the country has historically followed each election cycle since 1991/1992.
Johannesburg: This week, international advocacy organisation AIDS Free World announced that South Africa had agreed to address allegations of crimes against humanity perpetrated in Zimbabwe in 2008. “This month, South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) formally agreed to open an investigation into widespread rape perpetrated in the lead-up to Zimbabwe’s 2008 presidential elections,” the organisation said in a statement.
Justice and reconciliation are antidotes to impunity, the condition where powerful individuals and institutions act as they desire without fear of reprisals, reproach, retribution, or recrimination. Impunity inheres where there is a deficit of democratic structures of accountability, fairness, and impartiality. Egregious crimes against humanity are in part the result of perceptions of impunity, hence the momentous global efforts against impunity and its manifestations. Justice, peace, good governance, and reconciliation, on the other hand, thrive where sturdy and stable democratic values and impulses prevail, and where there is a culture of constitutionalism to constrain arbitrariness and abuse of power. Africa has contributed significantly to global ideas and norms that have informed international practices to end impunity and promote justice and reconciliation. Africa has also witnessed efforts to incorporate these norms and ideals into national, regional, and continental structures, but there is a need for more efforts to domesticate, monitor, and implement them.
Goma: M23 rebels and Congolese army soldiers raped scores of women and committed other war crimes during the rebels’ occupation of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in late 2012. Ongoing talks among parties to the conflict, countries in the region, and the United Nations should ensure that any agreements include holding those responsible for war crimes to account and that rebel commanders with abusive records do not serve in the Congolese army, Human Rights Watch said.
Addis Ababa: The Executive Council, takes note of the Report and its recommendations and commends the African Court for the efforts invested in 2012 to strengthen its operations; underscores the need to accelerate procedures and processes towards extending the competence of the Court to judge crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, on the African continent;
Prescriptions for the International Community: The transition from revolution to rights-respecting democracy is foremost a task for the people of the country undergoing change. But the international community can and should exert significant influence to ensure its success. Too often, however, global powers sell their influence short - or settle for less than they should - because of competing priorities. For example, the US and European governments, as noted, in their eagerness to wrest Burma from China’s influence have been tempted to embrace the new government before genuine reforms are adopted. A similar temptation exists for Washington to downplay domestic threats to rights in Egypt so long as Cairo supports US policy toward Israel. A more constructive international response would include the following:
Dakar: TrustAfrica is pleased to announce a new project, "The Fund to Advance International Criminal Justice in Africa." The project is a follow-up to a series of meetings on International Criminal Justice, the most recent of which took place in Nairobi, Kenya at the end of 2011. The $1.5 million, multi-donor effort seeks to ensure greater collaboration and accountability among African states to transform the field of international criminal justice in Africa. The fund has three main goals, namely: