Archives For human rights

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression (although it cannot currently exercise jurisdiction over the crime of aggression). It was set up in 2002.

The prosecutor of the ICC is Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the UN Security Council on May 4 that “crimes against humanity have been and continue to be committed in Libya,” but for now he is targeting just three people for arrest.

“I will request the judges to issue arrest warrants against three individuals who appear to bear the greatest criminal responsibility for crimes against humanity committed in the territory of Libya since February 15, 2011,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

It seems from media reports that he will issue arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif and the one other shortly.

It will be interesting to see whether the charges against Gaddafi will include the cluster bombing of Misrata.

We hope there will also be full investigation of any rebel, NATO or coalition war crimes.

To date, the ICC has only EVER charged people from Africa. What are the chances of anyone from the USA (Who do not accept its jurisdiction anyway) being charged?

Certain large human rights organisations, in particular Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, are wedded to this project so loathe to criticise it.

Nevertheless, Human Rights Investigations calls for

1) An end to the selective enforcement of human rights by the ICC which could be said to amount to institutional racism.

2) Human rights activists to organise themselves using the internet, blogs, twitter and all the other tools at our disposal to investigate and expose human rights abuses, especially the massive human rights abuses perpetrated by the richest and most powerful governments.

Update 19 July

The Associated Press reports the African Union has called on its members to disregard the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Moammar Gadhafi, an official confirmed 2 July 2011. The decision was passed by the African Union 1 July stating that the warrant against Gadhafi “seriously complicates” efforts by the organization to find a solution to the Libyan crisis.

Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union Jean Ping also told reporters that the ICC is “discriminatory” and only goes after crimes committed in Africa, while ignoring those he says were committed by Western powers in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Jean Ping - formerly Foreign Minister of Gabon and President of the General Assembly of the United Nations

“With this in mind, we recommend that the member states do not cooperate with the execution of this arrest warrant,” said the motion, which was shown to The Associated Press and whose passage was confirmed by Daniel Adugna, a spokesman in the AU commissioner’s office.

Osama Bin Laden and the radical islamic movement of which he was a part were trained and funded by intelligence forces of the US, as a way of undermining the Soviet Union for geo-strategic reasons and because that is the kind of thing intelligence services do. That is a matter of record.

Subsequently, Osama Bin Laden fell out with the his earlier mentors and launched attacks against western targets which killed and injured large numbers of civilians. That these attacks were purportedly in response to attacks on Moslem countries or to defend Moslem nations is, of course, no excuse.

Unfortunately, these attacks were used as excuses to launch wars of aggression and as justification by many governments, political forces and military organisations to attack human rights and to try to redefine them in their own interests.

The death of Bin Laden provides an appropriate occasion to condemn his crimes against human rights and pay respects to his innocent victims.

It is also an occasion for us to renew our faith in human rights and the creation of a better world with mutual respect between religions, tolerance and peace between nations.

The current events around the world, and particularly the success of the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia are testament to the efficacy of non-violent struggle and to the building of solidarity between people and the ineffectiveness of terrorism and war in building a better world.

Of course, the messages which leaders give out now over the next few days will be good indications of the key messages they are trying to put across, and unfortunately, strengthening human rights, the folly of proxy wars and violence, the winding down of the War on Terror or actual repect for the rights of muslims are unlikely to be among them.

On 15th April Human Rights Watch issued a statement asserting,

“Government forces loyal to the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have fired cluster munitions into residential areas in the western city of Misrata.”

Subsequent reports indicate a large number of civilians died in these attacks.

According to Fred Abrahams, Human Rights Watch assigned responsibility for these attacks to the loyalist forces on the basis that this munition was only fired from land-based mortars.

In fact, the MAT-120 is a specialised heavy cargo mortar system which is typically fired from a turret and which can be mounted on a small sea-based vessel.

The assignment of responsibility for these attacks to the Gaddafi forces is therefore, at best, premature.

Indeed, there is evidence these munitions are in the armoury of the coalition forces, the weapons systems needed to deliver them are in the coalition armoury and the coalition military leadership, including US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates regard the use of these weapons as effective and legitimate.

As the purported use of these munitions by Gaddafi’s forces has been an important factor in escalation of the Libyan conflict, it is a matter of urgency that Human Rights Watch correct their original report and ensure the world’s press are aware of the mistake made.

In addition, we would ask Human Rights Watch to provide a full explanation of

1) How this mistake was made, including from where the false information came from that these weapons could only be delivered by land-based weapons systems.

2) Why later investigation by HRW did not turn up this error.

Given the new information we have uncovered we would also expect Human Rights Watch

1) To issue a demand for full disclosure of coalition possession and use of cluster munitions in the Libyan conflict.

2) To issue a demand the coalition forces provide a full explanation of their operations, including special operations, off the coast of Misrata.

Update 23 June – No reply received – see later articles for updates on the HRI investigation.

HRI is focused on investigating human rights abuses which have not been brought to the public’s attention and also to act as a watchdog for other human rights organisations.

HRI is internationalist in outlook, focused on the human rights of the poorest people, dedicated to peaceful resolution of conflicts and not afraid to take on the rich and powerful.

HRI believes in empowering and giving a voice to the poor and oppressed and in working collaboratively with like-minded organisations and individuals.

HRI specialises in painstaking discovery procedures and dispassionate evaluation of information against a framework of international law.

What is the point? We aim to:

1) Identify perpetrators and protect victims
2) Establish the chain of accountability
3) Identify the vehicles to deliver justice and redress to the victims.
4) Influence positive change in laws and practice.
5) Draw attention to serious violations and accountability gaps,
6) Mobilize action nationally and internationally to grant justice to victims.

The ultimate goal of our work is preventing abuses or, at a minimum, mitigating and stopping violations when they do occur.