Posts Tagged ‘Liberia’

BRD: Kindersoldaten und Waffenhandel

Montag, Juli 2nd, 2012

„Das G3 war sehr populär im Krieg in Sierra Leone“

Von Ralf Willinger, terre des hommes Deutschland

Rote Farbe auf die Hand, Hand aufs Papier, Name drunter, Botschaft drüber und dann ab an die Wäscheleine – so einfach funktioniert die Aktion Rote Hand, an der weltweit schon über 370.000 Menschen in über 50 Ländern teilgenommen haben (www.redhandday.org). Auch über 100 Abgeordnete aller Parteien und Regierungsmitglieder gaben am diesjährigen Red Hand Day im Bundestag ihren roten Handabdruck ab und versprachen damit, sich gegen den Einsatz von Kindern als Soldaten einzusetzen. Darunter waren Familienministerin Kristina Schröder ebenso wie der Wehrbeauftragte Hellmut Königshaus oder die Fraktionsvorsitzende der Grünen, Renate Künast. Die Aktion war von der Kinderkommission des Bundestages, Schülern aus Wedel, Berlin und Osnabrück und dem Deutschen Bündnis Kindersoldaten, einem Netzwerk von Kinder- und Menschenrechtsorganisationen, organisiert worden. Der Red Hand Day am 12. Februar ist ein internationaler Gedenktag an das Schicksal von schätzungsweise 250.000 Kindersoldaten, Mädchen und Jungen, weltweit.

Auch Deutschland habe beim Thema Kindersoldaten eine Verantwortung, sagten bei der Pressekonferenz zum Red Hand Day 2012 in Berlin der Vorsitzende des Menschenrechtsausschusses des Bundestages, Tom Koenigs, Vertreter der Kinderrechtsorganisationen terre des hommes und Plan sowie Schülerinnen und Schüler. „Hierzulande verletzt die Bundesregierung ihre Fürsorgepflicht gegenüber traumatisierten ehemaligen Kindersoldaten. Da sie nicht als politisch Verfolgte angesehen werden, erhalten sie oft keine Asylberechtigung, oft droht ihnen Abschiebehaft“, sagte Tom Koenigs. Immer wieder flüchten Kindersoldaten bis nach Deutschland, beispielsweise aus Afghanistan, Somalia, dem Irak, dem Sudan oder aus Zentral- oder Westafrika.

Außerdem wurde von Koenigs und den Kinderrechtsorganisationen kritisiert, dass die Bundeswehr weiter jedes Jahr etwa 1000 17-jährige rekrutiert und bei Minderjährigen einseitig und damit völkerrechtswidrig für den Dienst an der Waffe wirbt. Ebenso wurde auf die problematische Rolle von Deutschland als Rüstungsexportnation Nr. 3 (hinter den USA und Russland) hingewiesen. Deutschland exportiere massenweise Kleinwaffen in Krisenregionen, die auch von Kindersoldaten genutzt werden.

Dies bestätigte auch Ismael Beah, ehemaliger Kindersoldat, UN-Botschafter und Buchautor, im Juni in Berlin im Gespräch mit Vertretern des Deutschen Bündnisses Kindersoldaten. „Das G3 [der deutschen Firma Heckler und Koch] war sehr populär im Krieg in Sierra Leone“, sagte er. Es gilt nach der russischen Kalaschnikow als das am meisten verbreitete Schnellfeuergewehr weltweit. Für Ismael Beah sind ein Stopp der massenweisen Verbreitung von Kleinwaffen und die Reintegration von Kindersoldaten in die Gesellschaft während und nach Kriegen die wichtigsten zu lösenden Probleme, um die Lage von Kindersoldaten weltweit zu verbessern.

Zwar gibt es wichtige Fortschritte beim Thema Kindersoldaten, beispielsweise die Verurteilung von zwei Verantwortlichen vor dem Internationalen Strafgerichtshof, Thomas Lubanga, ehemaliger Kommandeur aus dem Kongo, und Charles Taylor, ehemaliger Präsident Liberias. Aber gerade beim wichtigen Thema Waffenhandel wird die Lage immer dramatischer, die Konfliktgebiete werden überschwemmt mit billigen Kleinwaffen. Allein die deutschen Ausfuhren von Kleinwaffen und Munition haben sich von 1996 bis heute vervierfacht [Quelle: Rüstungsexportbericht 2011 der GKKE. www.gkke.org] – eine skandalöse Zahl, die verdeutlicht, dass die deutschen Rüstungsexportregeln von den zuständigen Behörden viel zu lasch interpretiert werden.

Man muss es leider so deutlich sagen: Durch die massiven deutschen Rüstungsexporte ist Deutschland mitverantwortlich für das Leid unzähliger Kinder in Kriegsgebieten. Es ist gut, dass Deutschland sich beispielsweise als Vorsitzender in einer Arbeitsgruppe des UN-Sicherheitsrates für einen besseren Schutz von Kindern in bewaffneten Konflikten einsetzt. So lange aber deutsche Firmen mit dem Segen der Behörden weiter massenweise am Leid von Kindern verdienen, muss sich die Bundesregierung die Frage gefallen lassen, wie dies zusammenpasst. Diese Frage wird nicht nur von ehemaligen Kindersoldaten wie Ismael Beah und nationalen und internationalen Menschenrechtsorganisationen immer wieder gestellt, sondern auch von anderen Ländern und UN-Gremien wie dem UN-Ausschuss für die Rechte des Kindes. Die Antwort kann eigentlich nur heißen: Das Wohl der Menschen und speziell der Kinder muss künftig vorgehen vor Wirtschafts- und strategischen Interessen – wie es im Völkerrecht (z. B. der UN-Kinderrechtskonvention) festgelegt ist. Leider wird dies von den Regierenden in Deutschland und anderen Ländern oft vergessen, gerade beim Thema Waffenexporte. Begünstigt wird dies durch Geheimhaltung und mangelnde Transparenz bei Rüstungsgeschäften.

Bessere Transparenz, restriktive Gesetze und Druck von der Bevölkerung sind zentral, um den krebsartig wuchernden Waffenhandel endlich einzudämmen. Gerade wer sich für eine Verbesserung der Lage von Kindersoldaten einsetzen will, sollte auch gegen den boomenden deutschen und internationalen Waffenhandel und für die friedliche Lösung von Konflikten aktiv werden. Kinder werden heute massiv in bewaffnete Konflikte und Kriege reingezogen, gerade auch in Kriegen, an denen westliche Länder mehr oder weniger direkt beteiligt sind, wie in Afghanistan, dem Irak, Somalia, dem israelisch-palästinensischen Konflikt, Syrien oder Libyen. Sie werden in vielen Ländern als menschliche Schutzschilde, Minenerkunder oder Kindersoldaten ausgebeutet, Wohngebiete, Schulen und Krankenhäuser werden angegriffen, unzählige Kinder sterben dabei täglich. (www.kindersoldaten.de)

„Glauben Sie, dass eine Welt ohne Kindersoldaten möglich ist?“ fragten die Schülerinnen und Schüler am Red Hand Day die Teilnehmer an der Aktion Rote Hand. Auch wenn es immer wieder Fortschritte gibt, ist es bis dahin sicher noch ein langer Weg. Kindersoldaten, verletzte, getötete, gefolterte und traumatisierte Kinder wird es geben, so lange es Kriege und massenweise Waffen vor Ort gibt. Umgekehrt gilt: Weniger Waffen in Krisengebieten und die friedliche Beilegung von drohenden bewaffneten Konflikten können das Leben von Kindern und erwachsenen Zivilisten retten.

Dafür kann sich jeder Einzelne einsetzen: über kreativen Protest wie die Aktion Rote Hand oder die Aktion Aufschrei – Stoppt den Waffenhandel, mit Protestbriefen an die Verantwortlichen, mit Geldern für Friedens- und Menschenrechtsinitiativen oder durch den Einsatz für mehr Friedenserziehung an Schulen. Und hier sind auch die deutschen Politiker gefragt – insbesondere die, die mit ihrem roten Handabdruck versprochen haben, sich gegen den Missbrauch von Kindersoldaten einzusetzen. Schülerinnen und Schüler, Aktivistinnen und Aktivisten und Kinderrechts- und Menschenrechtsorganisationen aller Kulturen und Nationalitäten müssen hier weiter Druck machen – in Deutschland und weltweit.”

 

(Quelle: Rüstungs-Informations-Büro – RIB e.V..)

Liberia: Gleiches Recht für alle?

Freitag, April 27th, 2012

“One man, two wars, one guilty verdict

Charles Taylor judgment reveals selective international justice

On the eve of Sierra Leone’s Independence Day, former Liberian President Charles Taylor was found guilty of war crimes committed during that country’s civil war. But does the verdict represent a major victory for Sierra Leoneans beyond its symbolic value?

Much has changed since I covered the first day of Charles Taylor’s trial for Pambazuka News on June 4, 2007. That day, he failed to show up to court, calling the case against him a “farce.” Today, he was in full view, stoic, resolute and somber. As I sat in the public gallery of the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone at The Hague, peering at the man portrayed as the most notorious African warlord in contemporary history, Taylor’s fate was solidified by one word: “GUILTY.”

After nearly nine years in limbo, Taylor was convicted today on all 11 counts of crimes against humanity and violation of international and Sierra Leonean law in that country’s civil war spanning November 1996 to January 2002. Taylor is the first head of state — and the first African — to be convicted by an international tribunal since the Nuremburg trials of 1946. The UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) was mandated in 2002 to try those who bear the greatest responsibility for the war that destabilised much of West Africa and stunted economic/political activity. Taylor’s trial is the last one.

Sierra Leone and Liberia have both been touted as post-conflict success stories, following what some would argue is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ externally imposed system of state-building. But while Sierra Leone and Liberia have attempted to emerge from the ashes of civil war, the specter of Charles Taylor has always hung over their fates like an ominous cloud, forever linking the two neighbours beyond their peculiarly similar historical trajectories. Taylor may have wreaked havoc in both countries, but he has languished in a Hague prison for the past five years, facing the full weight of international law for only aiding and abetting rebel factions in Sierra Leone’s civil crisis, privately providing arms and ammunition to the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) while publicly promoting peace as a standing head of state in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

It is clear, however, that the decision to convict him was not unanimous. After Taylor’s verdict was announced, Judge Malick Sow disagreed with the judgment openly while being rebuffed by colleagues, who stormed out of the court: “I disagree with the findings and conclusions of the other judges…the guilt of the accused from the evidence provided in this trial is not proved beyond a reasonable doubt by the prosecution.” Sow, like others before him, had argued that Taylor did not make or break the war in Sierra Leone.

In the concluding chapter of ‘When the State Fails: Studies on Intervention in the Sierra Leone Civil War’, [1] Tunde Zack-Williams, editor of the book, argues that Taylor simply tipped over an already bubbling pot: “…it is doubtful if Taylor’s intervention would have been so successful without other underlying long-term factors including: the marginalization of youth, patrimonialism and bad governance, deterioration of the economy and the general crisis of peripheral capitalism in Sierra Leone. By the time Taylor decided to show ‘fraternal revolutionary solidarity’ with Sankoh, Sierra Leone was a failing state, with crumbling social and physical infrastructure, a regime that could provide neither social citizenship, nor security for its people, with an alienated youthful population and an electorate that was at its wit’s end with their tormentors” (Zack-Williams, 2012: 247).

Regardless of the dissenting judge, Taylor’s sentence will be announced on May 30, two weeks after the prosecution and defense have given their oral arguments in a hearing. He will be transferred thereafter to a British prison to serve whatever sentence he is given. Again, another non-African prison will hold Taylor for crimes committed in Africa. Lest we have selective amnesia, Taylor walked out of a Plymouth prison in Massachusetts while undergoing extradition charges to Liberia in 1985. That was the beginning of Liberia’s tragic epic. Presumably it was also the beginning of Sierra Leone’s.

Brenda Hollis, chief prosecutor in Taylor’s trial, said: “Today is for the people of Sierra Leone who suffered horribly at the hands of Charles Taylor and his proxy forces. This [guilty] judgment brings some measure of justice to the many thousands of victims who paid a terrible price for Mr. Taylor’s crimes.” It may be coincidental that Sierra Leone will be celebrating its 51st Independence Day tomorrow, April 27, but I question whether this verdict represents a major victory beyond its symbolic value. Although the verdict is certainly relevant, clearly sending shockwaves across Africa, I’m not convinced that it has far enough reach to impact the lives of Sierra Leoneans who still suffer from the consequences of the reign of terror wreaked on them for 11 years. Nor does it bring back the deceased in Liberia, where justice still remains elusive.

What Charles Taylor’s verdict signifies for me is the need to reconfigure Africa’s domestic systems of justice, so that we don’t have to rely on the West to judge when, where, and under what circumstances we can punish for transgressions that we deem unacceptable. If a mob can stealthily executive an alleged rogue for stealing a loaf of bread from a local market anywhere on the continent, then surely we can channel that kind of misappropriated anger and violence to constructively tackle the most egregious criminals who break the public trust. Surely we can ensure that wielding money and power and influence cannot cloak a common criminal from facing the full weight of the law, no matter who s/he is.

Hollis’ rhetoric proves that she would theoretically agree with this position on an international level but I question her assertion that: “Today’s historic judgment reinforces the new reality, that Heads of State will be held to account for war crimes and other crimes…This judgment affirms that with leadership comes not just power and authority, but also responsibility and accountability. No person, no matter how powerful, is above the law.”

International justice is clearly blind to the atrocities committed by Western agents as well as non-Western countries that wield international clout or power. For instance, Russia, China and the U.S. never ratified the International Criminal Court because they were concerned that their nationals could be held accountable for crimes committed in other countries. And in May 2009, Sri Lanka successfully organised a counter resolution, backed by India, Russia and a majority of Asian, African and Latin American members, when a UN resolution was passed accusing the administration of war crimes. The administration argued that “human rights must not be regarded as a new version of the white man’s burden” in Sri Lanka. This just goes to show that it’s not enough for the likes of Taylor, Bashir, Kony and other Africans to be called before an international tribunal. All those who commit atrocities around the world deserve the same kind of justice, argues Taylor’s attorney, Courtenay Griffiths, from the former Prime Minister of the UK, Tony Blair, to former President of the United States, George Bush, for their participation in an illegitimate war in Iraq.

As radical as this view appears, Griffiths has made an important point. Until international justice can prove that it is blind to political maneuvering and power, it will always suffer from the virus of illegitimacy. As argued by Hochschild: “No international court can ever substitute for a working national justice system. Or for a society at peace. And I suspect it will be a long time indeed before three Africans in black robes sit in judgment of the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld for their endorsement of torture, or Vladimir Putin for his war in Chechnya, or Chinese officials for their actions in Tibet. But if we are serious about the idea that basic human rights belong to all people on Earth, no matter where they live—a principle enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights—then a justice system that can cross national boundaries is essential.” [2]

There has been a new, yet subdued, movement of people questioning the selective nature of international criminal justice, with Taylor’s attorney chiming the alarm bells with alacrity. According to Griffths, Taylor’s case has been politically motivated, “replicating blackness and criminality at the international level.” He is not the only one who questions the legitimacy of international justice. Paul Kagame of Rwanda argued that the over $1 billion spent in international donor money on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) — established in 1994 against the wishes of the Rwandan government, and modeled after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) — could be spent on building local justice systems in Rwanda, such as the gacaca village level systems or the Rwandan courts. He argued that the ICTR’s physical detachment from Rwanda prevented it from meaningfully engaging with the Rwandan people. The same argument could be made for the Taylor trial in The Hague. And further research shows that dissenting opinions are not just confined to the continent of Africa. Bosnians, for instance, have moved from an earlier support of the ICTY to a more recent position of skepticism that questions the political neutrality of ICTY judges, leading to the insistence that future cases involving Bosnian victims be tried in indigenous rather than international tribunals. [3]

The fact that hybrid tribunals such as the ICTY and the ICTR average an annual budget of US$100 million should be called into question when domestic judicial institutions in Africa and elsewhere must be strengthened. Domestic actors need to ‘own’ the process and international actors can only play a supportive role, if invited to do so. Assuming that no surviving structures of policing or justice worthy of international support undermines what may already exist in countries recovering from complex political emergencies is a dangerous fallacy. [4] What were the indigenous systems of justice in Africa used before the onset of colonialism? Why not return to those, borrowing what is relevant and discarding the rest as historical artifact? It seems to me that we cannot continue to rely on international justice systems to protect us from each other. We must do that ourselves.

Two days before the Taylor verdict, a press release was issued from the Government of Liberia, as a founding member of the UN, endorsing its faith in the international justice system. It is ironic that Liberia has yet to deal with its own confounding justice system, or with a set of recommendations from a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that endorsed prosecutions for those who bear the greatest responsibility for Liberia’s civil war. These recommendations have yet to be implemented, with some arguing that they are unconstitutional. It is ironic that Liberia has praised an international system that asymmetrically favors selective justice. It also is ironic that Taylor’s former allies continue to wield political and economic power in Liberia.

A perfect international justice system is one that doesn’t have any trials, as former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Ocampo, once argued. But are we anywhere near making the ICC or other international justice bodies unnecessary? Durable peace in post-conflict countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia require domestic institution building of justice systems, not an expensive, internationally funded legal apparatus. In the Thomas Lubanga ICC trial alone, one man was convicted in one decade, costing the international community US$1 billion. In the case of the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), under whose jurisdiction Taylor’s verdict was rendered, it was originally projected that the SCSL would cost US$35 million total. To date, lead donors such as the UK, U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, and Nigeria have helped to raise much more than that. Although the UK has funded judicial capacity in Sierra Leone considerably, clearly more needs to be done, and the investments must come from the Sierra Leone national budget. The fact that the vast majority of Liberians and Sierra Leoneans do not access formal court systems is a telltale sign that we must not be doing something right, that domestic justice systems, just as their international counterparts, are not blind, but rather selective.

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* Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Robtel Neajai Pailey is currently pursuing a doctorate in Development Studies at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), as a Mo Ibrahim Foundation scholar.

* Please send comments to editor[at]pambazuka[dot]org or comment online at Pambazuka News.”

 

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

BRD / Afrika: Selbst schuld?

Dienstag, April 17th, 2012

“Bundesregierung lehnt Exportbeschränkungen für Altkleider ab

Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung/Antwort – 02.04.2012

Berlin: (hib/AHE) Der Bundesregierung liegen keine Erkenntnisse vor, dass Altkleiderexporte aus Deutschland „einen der wesentlichen Hinderungsgründe für den Aufbau einer eigenen, wettbewerbsfähigen Textilindustrie in Entwicklungsländern“ darstellen. Wie es in einer Antwort (17/8690) auf eine Kleine Anfrage der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (17/8528) weiter heißt, sei der Rückgang der lokalen Produktion zum Teil auch auf „wirtschaftliche und handelspolitische Probleme des jeweiligen Entwicklungslandes“ zurückzuführen. Dazu zählten unter anderem „mangelnde Produktivität von Betrieben“, staatliche Eingriffe und Wettbewerbsverzerrungen durch Importzölle.

Die Bundesregierung weist in diesem Zusammenhang darauf hin, dass den betroffenen Ländern „geeignete außenhandelspolitische Instrumente“ zur Steuerung von Altkleiderimporten zur Verfügung stünden. Eine Exportbeschränkung für Altkleider lehnt die Bundesregierung ab. Wie sie in der Antwort weiter ausführt, würden Länder wie Kenia, Kamerun, Tansania, Malawi, Uganda und Liberia nach Schätzungen des International Trade Centre (ITC) 60 bis 80 Prozent des Kleidungsbedarfs durch Altkleider decken.”

 

(Quelle: Deutscher Bundestag.)

Siehe auch:

Das Kilo für 1,20 Dollar. Das große Geschäft mit den Kleiderspenden aus Deutschland
“Das Gefühl für den Wert der Kleidung verloren”
Gebrauchtkleiderexporte im Blickpunkt

Global: Konstante Zahlen – Binnenvertriebene…

Mittwoch, Juli 21st, 2010
 


Photo: UN

Das Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) des Norwegian Refugee Councils hat eine tabellarische Übersicht über die geschätzte Zahl der Binnenvertriebenen in den vergangenen zehn Jahren in allen Ländern, die sie überwacht, zusammengestellt.

Die Zahlen aus den Jahren 2001 bis 2009 zeigen, wie viele Menschen intern durch Konflikte, allgemeine Gewalt oder Menschenrechtsverletzungen vertrieben wurden.

Die entsprechende Übersicht finden Sie hier.

USA: Wie hält’s Du es mit dem Internationalen Strafgerichtshof?

Donnerstag, Juli 1st, 2010

U.S. Hijacks ICC conference

By Francis Njubi Nesbitt

The United States managed to foil the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) adoption of the crime of aggression as part of its mandate during the just-concluded review conference in Kampala, Uganda. Despite the fact that the United States is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC, and thus did not have a vote at the conference, U.S. negotiators cajoled a majority of the state parties to delay the definition and adoption of the crime of aggression for another seven years. Where the Bush administration used threats and tried to intimidate, the Obama team offered sweet-talk and enticements to get states to delay the amendment expanding ICC jurisdiction to include the crime of aggression. It also managed to water down the definition of aggression and to exempt U.S. personnel from prosecution. The latter was a goal of the previous administration and the reason for U.S. hostility toward the ICC.   

Crowing with satisfaction, the State Department reported on June 16 that the agreement had ensured “total protection for our Armed Forces and other U.S. nationals going forward.” This indemnity was achieved by a series of amendments that exempted non-state parties from prosecution and gave the U.N. Security Council the power to determine if a crime of aggression has occurred. If the Security Council finds that aggression has not occurred, then the prosecutor would have to seek a majority vote of pre-trail judges and even then, the Security Council would still have the power to thwart the process with a binding Chapter 7 resolution disapproving the action. Even if the United States becomes a state party to the ICC at some point, it could still opt out of having U.S. citizens prosecuted for aggression. 

The Carrot Approach

The success in promoting U.S. interests was achieved by offering inducements, such as “generous” support for national legal systems in state parties through information sharing and support in arresting suspects. The focus on national legal remedies for war crimes and crimes against humanity has been touted as the alternative to international justice. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda — which I am currently visiting — and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in particular have been criticized for spending hundreds of millions of dollars with little to show for it. Critics such as President Paul Kagame of Rwanda argue that the local Gacaca courts, based on indigenous norms, are faster and more relevant to ordinary Rwandans than distant international tribunals. Both the international tribunals and the local courts, however, suffer from the malady; both tend to prosecute the “losers” and ignore crimes that may have been perpetrated by the victors. The only exception is the Special Court for Sierra Leone which prosecuted both sides of the civil war. 

Another incentive offered to mitigate U.S. meddling is “cooperation,” such as information sharing and support in the location and arrest of suspects. ICC officials argued before the conference that the United States could provide critical counterintelligence support in the search for, and arrest of, indicted war criminals such as Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The ICC charged Kony with individual criminal responsibility on 33 counts of crimes against humanity including, murder, mutilation, rape, mass burnings, and enslavement. It issued an arrest warrant for him on July 7, 2005. The United States has also designated Kony a “specially designated terrorist” (SDT), a designation that allows the United States to block his assets and criminalize any association with the said individual or group.  Other SDTs include Osama bin Laden and Hamas. 

A Renewed U.S. Role

Despite its success in delaying the ICC’s jurisdiction over aggression, the United States failed in its main objective to defeat the amendment altogether. Instead, the United States tried to politicize the ICC by enhancing the role of the Security Council and therefore giving permanent members the power to subvert the process. Ironically, this is the very issue, politicization, that the United States claimed was the problem with the ICC in the first place.

This renewed engagement with the ICC suggests that the Obama administration is interested in shaping international law while remaining immune to prosecution under the very laws it helps develop. In the case of the ICC, the cover story is that the United States is concerned that its troops engaged in peacekeeping around the world may be subject to malicious prosecution.    

Critics of the ICC argue that it is a toothless watchdog because it relies on member states to arrest suspects. They point to Omar al-Bashir of Sudan who continues to thumb his nose at the ICC, despite an arrest warrant issued in 2009 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. The counter argument is that international war crimes tribunals have successfully prosecuted heads of state including former Prime Minister John Kambanda of Rwanda, and former presidents Slobodan Milošević of Serbia and Charles Taylor of Liberia.

The latter case is particularly instructive as the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which prosecuted Taylor for his role in the civil war, is a hybrid of national and international justice, bringing together both local and international prosecutors and judges. Such hybrid processes have also worked in the case of Cambodia where a U.N.-backed tribunal is trying senior members of the Khmer Rouge for violations of international humanitarian law. Locating the tribunals in the countries where the crimes were committed both enhances the capacity of national judicial systems and involves the local communities in the process. In some cases, however, powerful individuals are able to thwart efforts to establish local tribunals. In such cases, for example the recent experience in Kenya, it may be necessary to resort to international courts.    

Although critics are furious at the role of the United States in shaping the agenda of the review conference, this reengagement with international institutions is a positive step. The United States can play a role in the international arena by supporting efforts to bring suspects such as Kony to justice and putting pressure on sitting presidents such as Omar al-Bashir. Meanwhile, expanding the jurisdiction of the ICC to include aggression will be revisited in 2017, giving activists and other interested parties another opportunity to advocate for the increasing role of the ICC in international law.

Francis Njubi Nesbitt is a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor and teaches African politics and conflict resolution at San Diego State University. He is the author of Race for Sanctions (Indiana University Press, 2004) and is completing a book on peacemaking in the Horn of Africa.

Recommended Citation:

Francis Njubi Nesbitt, “U.S. Hijacks ICC conference” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, June 29, 2010)

 

(Quelle: FPIF.)

Demokratische Republik Kongo: Straffreiheit für Vergewaltiger

Dienstag, Juni 29th, 2010

“There Is Almost Total Impunity for Rape in Congo

Jennie Lorentsson interviews MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 28, 2010 (IPS) – Sexual violence against women has become part of modern warfare around the world. In some countries, women cannot even go out to draw water without fear of being attacked and raped.

On Apr. 1, Margot Wallström became the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Her job is to investigate abuses and make recommendations to the Security Council.

The appointment of Wallström, currently a vice president of the European Commission, comes amidst continued reports of gender violence, including rape and sexual abuse both locally and by humanitarian aid workers and U.N. peacekeepers, mostly in war zones and in post-conflict societies.

The incidents of sexual attacks, both on women and children, have come from several countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Haiti, Burundi, Guinea and Liberia.

One of Wallström’s first assignments was a trip to the DRC, a nation she calls “the rape capital” of the world. Excerpts from the interview with Wallström follow.

Q: Tell us about your trip.

A: Congo has attracted attention in the media [as a place that is suffering] systematic rape in war. One statistic quoted is 200,000 rapes since the beginning of the war 14 years ago, and it is certainly an underestimate.

When in Congo, I met government representatives and particularly women who had been raped and violated. It was interesting but also disappointing – nothing is getting better and more and more civilians are committing rapes.

But I should be fair and say that there has been progress, the government has introduced laws against rape, it has a national plan and there is political will. There is a lot to do to implement the legislation, but now there is an ambitious legal ground to stand on to be implemented by the police, judiciary and health care.

Q: What are the roots of the problem?

A: The sexual violence in Congo is the result of the war between the many armed groups. To put women in the front line has become a part of modern warfare.

Men often feel threatened in times of conflict and stay inside, but the women have to go out and get water and firewood and go to the fields to find food. In many cases they’ll be the first to be attacked. Especially if there is no paid national army that can protect civilians, rape is a part of the looting and crimes against the innocent. In addition, there is almost total impunity for rape in the Congo.

Q: The U.N. has its own force, MONUC, in Congo to protect civilians. What is being done to help women?

A: MONUC has had to adjust their operations after the conditions in the country. For example, MONUC has special patrols which escort women to health care clinics and markets.

Q: The U.N. and the Congolese government are discussing when the U.N. should leave the country. What would happen if the U.N. left the Congo now?

A: We have reason to be worried if the United Nations would leave the Congo. It is still unsettled in some parts of the country and the U.N. provides logistics for many of the NGOs operating in the country, and they rely in the U.N.

What is happening right now is that [the government] wants to show that it can protect the country itself – it’s a part of the debate on independence.

Q: How do feel when you hear about U.N. peacekeepers committing atrocities?

A: Just one example is too much. It destroys our confidence in the U.N.’s ability to do great things.

Q: There is criticism that the U.N. is a bureaucratic and inflexible organisation. Do you agree?

A: In every large organisation there is critisism like this. After 10 years in the European Commission, I can recognise such trends here, there is always. But basically, there are high hopes and great confidence in the U.N. and the energy and passion that exists for the U.N. is very useful.

Q: The Security Council has promised to focus even more on the issue of violence against women. Which countries should be focused on?

A: Congo is a given, also Darfur and a number of other countries in Africa. We will also focus on Liberia, where it is more a post-conflict society which has been brutalised and where rape is the most common offence. We cannot be in all countries with conflicts, we will comply with the Security Council agenda. This is a problem that not only exists in Africa.

Q: What can your staff do on site?

A: Our team of legal experts can help a country to establish a modern legislation. Impunity is the foundation of the problem, the women have to go with guilt and the men go free. We must try to understand how such a culture is created and how it can be a method of warfare. Then we can stop it.

(Quelle: IPS News.)