New York: United Nations independent experts have voiced serious concern over reports that Chinese activists have been intimidated and prevented from taking part in a major assessment of the human rights situation in the country. “Intimidating civil society members who seek to contribute to such an important international dialogue is completely unacceptable,” said the Geneva-based experts in a news release. “Ensuring the free participation of civil society actors, including human rights defenders, and other national stakeholders, in this process is crucial.”
New York: The ideal of a world where accountability was the expectation, and not the exception, had become a reality, despite challenges of arresting fugitives and staff retention, the General Assembly heard today as the Presidents of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for Former Yugoslavia presented their annual reports. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) “will leave behind it a world transformed,” said Theodor Meron, President of the Tribunal and of the Mechanism, “a world in which expectations of principled accountability for those who stand accused of atrocities will remain the norm, and the rule of law will continue to prevail.”
Nairobi: A clash between French-speaking and English-speaking African countries sunk a move to withdraw Africa from the International Criminal Court in Addis Ababa at the weekend. A combination of factors - including a division between Anglophone and Francophone countries and endless conflicts in the continent - put paid to efforts by some countries to have the African Union announce its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court. They instead issued five demands to the ICC and its guarantor, the United Nations Security Council, to meet and pave the way for new relations with the court on crimes against humanity and high level impunity.
Addis Ababa: Chair of the African Union, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn, Chair of the Commission of the African Union, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Colleagues Head of State and Government, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen. It gives me special pleasure to join your Excellencies at this Special Summit, where we have assembled to reflect on very significant matters relating to the welfare and destiny of our nations and peoples. I thank you for the honour of addressing you today, because as it happens, I crave my brother and sister Excellencies' views on some issues.
African leaders behind the move to extract the continent from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court are effectively seeking a licence to kill, maim and oppress their people without consequences. They are saying that African leaders should not allow the interests of the people to get in the way of their personal ambitions. Being held to account interferes with their ability to act with impunity to achieve their objectives. Those who get in their way – their victims – should remain faceless and voiceless.
We, the undersigned 130 African civil society organizations and international organizations with representatives in 34 African countries, write to urge your government to affirm its support for the ICC and the court’s treaty, the Rome Statute, during the extraordinary AU summit on the ICC scheduled for October 11-12, 2013. As you know, the relationship between the ICC and some African governments has faced renewed challenges as the ICC’s cases for crimes committed during Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007-08 have progressed. This has led to the scheduling of the AU extraordinary summit and questions over whether some African ICC states may be considering withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
New York: “Not a week goes by without my Office receiving reports of brutal violence and intimidation, police harassment and widespread discriminatory treatment affecting LGBT people around the world. Those who speak out in defence of the rights of LGBT people risk persecution and assault and even, in some countries, legal sanctions”, said UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay. Pillay was speaking at a ground-breaking ministerial level UN meeting in New York on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. The event marked the first time the issue had been discussed at ministerial level at the United Nations.
Addis Ababa: Members of the UN Security Council held their seventh annual consultative meeting with members of the AU Peace and Security Council (8 October) at AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa. Council members also met with AU Chair Nkoszana Dlamini Zuma and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The consultative meeting with the AU PSC went smoothly as did the adoption of a joint communiqué. The communiqué underscored the partnership between the two organs, particularly in conflict areas of Africa such as in the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Sahel region. The mood was quite different than it was in 2011, the last time the consultative meeting was held in Addis Ababa. In 2011 the meeting had been very fractious due to the Council-authorised intervention in Libya and unhappiness from the AU that its preferred diplomatic approach to the situation had been largely sidelined by the Security Council.
New York: The International Criminal Court (ICC) has had the busiest year on record, the body said in a report to the United Nations General Assembly, in which it also called for greater support from the UN Security Council. “UN Security Council referrals to the ICC – such as Libya and Darfur – risk becoming ‘futile’ without the necessary support to enforce the Court’s decisions,” the ICC said releasing its 2012-2013 report to the General Assembly.
Cape Town: On 28 June 2013, 51 countries lined up in Marrakesh, Morocco, to sign an historic treaty aimed at making more books available for blind and visually impaired people. South Africa was not one of them. Three weeks ago, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a draft intellectual property policy for South Africa. The policy makes no mention of the Marrakesh treaty nor the kind of copyright limitations and exceptions that the treaty envisages.