Israel's supreme court has suspended a controversial government plan to deport tens of thousands of African migrants who entered the country illegally.It gave the state until 26 March to provide more information on the plan.In January, the migrants - mostly from Eritrea and Sudan - were offered $3,500 (£2,510) and a plane ticket to leave Israel voluntarily by the end of March.Otherwise, they faced detention and subsequent expulsion. The UN refugee agency criticised the plan.The Israeli court issued its ruling on Thursday, following a legal challenge by a group of migrants from Eritrea and Sudan.The government now cannot deport African migrants until the court receives additional information.Israeli authorities say there are currently more than 40,000 African migrants in Israel, describing them as "infiltrators".Most of them entered from Egypt several years ago, before a new fence was built along the desert border. This has almost ended illegal crossings.Only single young men are affected by the government plan.It exempts children, women, parents of dependent minors and victims of slavery and human trafficking.The authorities have said the migrants' return will be humane and "voluntary".Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that an unchecked influx of African migrants could threaten Israel's Jewish character.Source: BBC NEWSLEAGUE OF JUSTICE
Today, 11 March 2018, the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC), sitting in a plenary session, electedJudge Chile Eboe-Osuji (Nigeria) as President of the Court for a three-year term with immediate effect. Judge Robert Fremr (Czech Republic) was elected First Vice-President and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (France) Second Vice-President."I am deeply honoured to have been elected by my peers as President of the International Criminal Court. As I take up my duties, I feel encouraged that I am able to rely on the wide experience of the two Vice-Presidents, Judge Robert Fremr and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, both of whom I have closely worked with previously. I look forward to working together with them as well as with all the judges, all the Officials and the staff of the Court in a spirit of collegiality. I also look forward to collaborating with the Assembly of States Parties, civil society and the international community at large, acting together to strengthen and reinforce the Rome Statute system, the 20th anniversary of the adoption of which we celebrate this year", President Chile Eboe-Osuji stated following the election. "I am also grateful to the previous President, Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, and Vice-Presidents, Judges Joyce Aluoch and Kuniko Ozaki, for their work and leadership," he added.The Presidency – consisting of the President and the two Vice-Presidents – plays a key role in providing strategic leadership to the ICC as a whole. The Presidency coordinates with the other organs and seeks the concurrence of the Prosecutor on matters of mutual concern. In accordance with the Rome Statute, the ICC's governing treaty, the Presidency is responsible for the proper administration of the Court, with the exception of the Office of the Prosecutor. The Presidency oversees the activities of the Registry and provides input into a broad range of administrative policies affecting the Court's overall functioning. Furthermore it conducts judicial review of certain decisions of the Registrar and concludes Court-wide cooperation agreements with States and international organizations.League of Justice
GENEVA —U.N. investigators are calling for justice in light of separate reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council describing widespread and gross violations of human rights in South Sudan and Burundi.More than four years of fighting in South Sudan has left nearly six million people facing hunger, more than four million internally displaced and two million living as refugees in neighboring countries.The Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan describes a civilian population at the mercy of fighters and criminal gangs who commit atrocities with impunity.It says the warring parties must abide by the peace agreement they signed in 2015. The chair of the commission, Yasmin Sooka, told the council that the Hybrid Court for South Sudan, which was required under the agreement, should be set up right away."It is just one signature away — all it needs is for the government to sign the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding]," Sooka said. "If this does not happen, the African Union has the authority to set up a hybrid court — outside the country, if necessary — to try alleged perpetrators for South Sudan."Sooka says the hybrid court will not be able to deal with the staggering number of violations in South Sudan, but it can make perpetrators legally accountable for their crimes. She says witnesses are anxious to testify, and evidence for trials can be gathered both inside and outside the country."Our work so far has barely scratched the surface of the violations we believe have occurred," she said. "More worrying is that we did not have to search too hard for corroborated accounts of astounding cruelty, dehumanization and ethnic persecution. … We have, indeed, struggled to do justice to the scale and intensity of the horror we documented."The commission is collecting and preserving evidence to be shared with the hybrid court, as well as with a truth commission and a reparations body that are part of the peace agreement for South Sudan, according to Sooka.Paulino Wanawilla Unango, Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs of South Sudan, calls the report repetitious and flawed. He says the human rights situation in his country has improved and rejects the commission's assertion that people commit crimes with impunity.In BurundiMeanwhile, the three-member Commission of Inquiry on Burundi finds no improvement in the political, security, economic, social and human rights situation in Burundi since its last report to the council in September.Commission member Francoise Hamson says many political opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza, as well as journalists and human rights defenders, remain in exile."Members of civil society organizations who are still present in Burundi are under constant pressure of facing arrest," Hamson said. "The commission received a great deal of information and testimonies to cases of harassment and violence committed by public officials and/or by members of the ruling party's youth league, [known as] the Imbonerakure, against individuals who may vote no or who refuse to enroll on voters' list for the referendum."Dozens of people have been arrested for supporting a "no" vote in an upcoming referendum that could allow the president to extend his term in office. Hamson says people remain under constant threat of abuse."These cases supplement other human rights violations, specifically arrests and arbitrary detention, torture and ill treatment, disappearance and violations of the right to an effective appeal and to a fair trial," Hamson said.Burundian Ambassador Renovat Tabu questioned the legitimacy of the commission and rejected the report, saying it lacked credibility as it was riddled with false allegations about the country's human rights situation.Source: VOALEAGUE OF JUSTICE
The U.N. Security Council is expected to adopt on Thursday a U.S.-drafted resolution that threatens to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against those blocking efforts to end one of Africa's worst wars.The strongly-worded text is aimed at piling pressure on South Sudan's warring sides as they head into a new round of peace talks in Ethiopia next month to end the four-year war.The council “expresses its intention to consider all measures, including an arms embargo, as appropriate, to deprive the parties of the means to continue fighting,” according to a final draft resolution.Demanding an end to the fighting, the council will “consider all appropriate measures ... against those who take actions that undermine the peace, stability, and security of South Sudan,” said the text seen by AFP on Wednesday.Peacekeeping missionThe draft resolution would also renew the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for a year and maintain a regional force in Juba that was deployed after fierce fighting broke out in the capital in July 2016.The United Nations has 12,500 troops and 1,500 police in its UNMISS mission, which is tasked with protecting civilians caught up in a brutal war between President Salva Kiir’s forces and rebels.Negotiations on the U.S.-drafted text began last week with Russia, China and Ethiopia raising objections to the threat of an arms embargo, diplomats said.That stance was in line with the African Union, which has backed sanctions as a way to pressure the parties but has not endorsed an arms embargo.The United States failed in late 2016 to garner enough support for a ban on weapons sales after eight countries including Russia, China, Angola, Egypt and Senegal abstained.Nine votes are required to adopt a resolution in the 15-member council.Despite the defeat, the United States has continued to call for an arms embargo, with the support of Britain and France.Time for action?Human Rights Watch's U.N. deputy director Akshaya Kumar said an arms embargo and sanctions are the “missing pieces of the puzzle” to shore up peace efforts in South Sudan.“It's good that the Security Council is threatening these steps but they have made these threats many times before, and what we are waiting for is action,” she said.The measure would push the council closer to action but another draft resolution would have to be approved for the actual arms embargo to be imposed.The war in the world’s youngest nation has killed tens of thousands of people, uprooted four million — roughly a third of the population — and raised the risk of famine.Critical backing from USSouth Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011, with critical backing from the United States, which remains Juba’s biggest aid donor.With the war now in its fifth year, Ethiopia is leading a regional peace effort, hosting talks between the government and rebel groups that have yet to produce a breakthrough.A ceasefire deal agreed to in December has not taken hold, even though the level of violence has decreased.The Ethiopia-led diplomatic effort has been billed as a last chance for peace as frustration grows over the ongoing war that has seen horrific levels of brutality.Extraordinary crueltyA U.N. rights commission last month said there was sufficient evidence to charge at least 41 senior officers and officials with war crimes and crimes against humanity.The commission’s report documented extraordinary cruelty. Some victims were beheaded, burned alive or had their throats cut, others had their eyes gouged out or were tortured.Addressing a recent African Union summit, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres dropped his usual reluctance to criticize leaders and bluntly said of South Sudan’s leaders that he “had never seen a political elite with so little interest in the well-being of its own people.”Source: VOA
March 15, 2018, 5:13 pm
today in history
GHANA INDEPENDENCE: 6TH OF MARCH 1957
The Gold Coast is the first British colony in Africa to gain independence, changing its name to Ghana.