Botswana hits out at lack of African co-operation with ICC

Botswana’s President Ian Khama spoke out against African leaders who have refused to fully co-operate with the International Criminal Court, calling it a “betrayal of the innocent and helpless victims”. In a keynote speech delivered at the ICC’s annual meeting, Khama objected directly to the African Union’s decision earlier this year, to oppose the arrest warrants issued for late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and other wanted heads of state. He told the meeting, "I specifically note with regret that at a recent summit held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, in June, 2011, the African Union formally decided not to cooperate with the ICC over the indictments and arrest warrants against some leaders," "This decision is a serious setback in the battle against impunity in Africa and undermines efforts to confront war crimes and crimes against humanity which are committed by some leaders on the continent." "Such a move also places Africa on the wrong side of history. It is a betrayal of the innocent and helpless victims of such crimes." "We need to have the political will and the moral courage to hold accountable, without fear or favour, anyone in authority -- including a sitting head of state -- when he or she is suspected of having committed crimes against innocent people." He spoke as the ICC announced that Fatou Bensouda, the current deputy prosecutor of the ICC and a former justice minister of Gambia, is set to become the new Chief Prosecutor from June 2012.

Malawi referred to UN Security Council over refusal to arrest Bashir

The International Criminal Court announced on Monday, it was referring Malawi to the UN Security Council for its failure to arrest Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir who is wanted for his part in the Darfur genocide. The ICC's pre-trial chamber concluded that "the Republic of Malawi failed to cooperate with the court by not arresting and surrendering Omar Al Bashir to the court during his visit to Malawi" and "decided to refer the matter to both the United Nations Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute." Rejecting Malawian President's assertion that African...

Seeking redemption 30 years on

The government of El Salvador has apologised for the "blindness of state violence" that resulted in the massacre of over 1000 civilians in the town of El Mozote, in 1981. Soldiers, of the now criminalised Atlacatl battalion executed civilians, almost half of whom were children. The victims were accused of working with left-wing guerrilla groups. Speaking at a remembrance event held on Sunday in El Mozote, El Salvador's Foreign Minister, Hugo Martinez, said, "This event seeks to honour the memory of hundreds of innocent people who were murdered 30 years ago here in El Mozote and in nearby...

Celebrating Human Rights Day - Hillary Clinton

In a statement released on International Human Rights Day 2011, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton reflected on the on-going repression of " people exercising their universal rights " and asserted that it is an " obligation of every government to guarantee the rights of all citizens ". See full statement here , extracts reproduced below: "On December 10, 1948, world leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly and pledged to uphold and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people . This promise, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognized that...

Dutch apology for Indonesia massacre in 1947

The Dutch government has issued a formal apology for the massacre of villagers in Java in 1947. On the 64th anniversary of the killings, Dutch Ambassador to Indonesia, Tjeerd de Zwaan, attended a memorial event at the Heroe’s Cemetery in Rawagede, the site of the massacre. "In this context and on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologise for the tragedy that took place in Rawagede on the 9th of December, 1947," de Zwaan said. According to local community groups, 431 men and boys were dragged out of their homes and executed in front of villagers during the country’s war of independence from...

French parliament committee passes bill criminalising Armenian Genocide denial

The committee on constitutional law of the French National Assembly has passed a bill which will make denial of the killings of over 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 by Turkey as genocide a crime. The bill, which will now be sent to the National Assembly, will make genocide denial a criminal offence and carries a fine of 45,000 euros and a one year prison sentence for those found guilty. It was proposed by parliamentarian Valerie Boyer and co-signed by 40 parliament members of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) and the New Center parties. Boyer commented , “I hope that we will go to the end...

Nobel Peace Prize winner calls for Arab spring support

The first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize has called on the international community to support the pro-democracy protests that have swept across the Arab world this year. Speaking at the ceremony, Yemeni journalist Tawakkul Karman, who shares the prize with Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and rights activist Leymah Gbowee, called on the international community to intensify support for the wave of protests in the Middle East. " The democratic world , which has told us a lot about the virtues of democracy and good governance, should not be indifferent to what is happening in...

Taliban in peace talks with Pakistan

The Taliban’s deputy leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammad has announced they are in talks with the government of Pakistan. The announcement is likely to exacerbate tensions between the US and Pakistan, already at a critical point after the recent deaths of Pakistani troops in a NATO attack.

British Police allowed into Libya to investigate Lockerbie

The Libyan government has given British police the go-ahead to conduct inquiries into the Lockerbie bombing and the killing of PC Yvonne Fletcher. Scottish detectives will travel to Libya to interview Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was convicted for involvement in th Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Al-Megrahi was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds due to his ill-health. At the time he was only expected to live another 2 months. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC said: "If media reports are correct I am pleased that the Transitional Government of Libya has agreed to allow officers from Dumfries...

EU decision on Serbia’s membership may be postponed

A draft conclusion of the EU heads of government summit currently being held, may delay a decision on Serbia’s accession into the EU until March 2012, according to the Wall Street Journal . Stipulating conditions that Serbia had to fulfil, it concluded, "With a view to granting Serbia the status of candidate country by March 2012, the European Council tasks the Council to examine and confirm that Serbia has continued to show credible commitment and achieved further progress" The report follows speculation of a postponement in the decision after Germany and other countries expressed concern...

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