[JURIST] Leading Wednesday's international brief, a spokesperson for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] has told the Ugandan paper Daily Monitor [media website] that the ICC would make no move to cooperate with demands by Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder] rebels wanting a cancellation of ICC indictments in exchange for surrendering to authorities. Since the demands on Tuesday, the ICC has come under pressure to permit the amnesty of the five LRA leaders, with many critics arguing that, while the indictments may serve justice, they are keeping peace from finally coming to the war-torn region. Christian Palme from the ICC Office of the Prosecutor [official website] said that the ICC would not heed calls by LRA second-in-command Vincent Otti [MIPT profile], who issued a statement that no LRA fighters would surrender until the indictments were lifted, and would only consider such a proposal after the successful completion of a peace agreement. The ICC is dependent upon local law enforcement to capture and extradite its indicted suspects, as it has no police force of its own. Uganda's Daily Monitor has local coverage.
In other international legal news …
- Lawyers for former South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma [party profile] told the court hearing his case today that the corruption charges brought against Zuma [JURIST report] were unconstitutional and should be dismissed. Zuma's defense team told the court that the decision of the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) [official website] to reopen investigation into and consideration of corruption charges against Zuma required that the agency contact Zuma and permit him to respond. According to the lawyers, the NPA's lack of contact and Zuma's lack of opportunity to respond represents a constitutional breach of Zuma's rights and that the case has thus been irretrievably biased against Zuma. The NPA and state prosecutor are asking for a postponement to handle the volume of material gathered during their investigation of Zuma, as well as to address issues raised by the appeal of Schabir Shaik, Zuma's former financial advisor, against his criminal conviction [JURIST report]. The Mail & Guardian Online has local coverage.
- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan [official profile] has warned the Sudanese government that it alone would bear the responsibility for the pending humanitarian crisis in the country's Darfur region [JURIST news archive] if they refuse to permit the African Union (AU) [official website] to hand over control of the current peacekeeping mission to a UN peacekeeping force approved by the Security Council [JURIST report]. Annan's warning was a response to Monday's declaration by Sudanese officials [JURIST report] that if the AU peacekeeping force remained committed to handing over control of the mission, Sudan would require the withdrawal of all AU forces from the region by the end of September. Critics of the Sudanese government allege that officials want time to finish off rebel forces before peacekeepers arrive and that certain Sudanese officials fear the possibility of being tracked down and arrested for prosecution before the International Criminal Court [official website] for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Sudan Tribune has local coverage.
- Amnesty International [advocacy website] has released a report [text] alleging the Turkish government [Ministry of Foreign Affairs website] has continued to apply its anti-terrorism laws in contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF], despite holdings by the European Court on Human Rights (ECHR)[official website] requiring retrials for several individuals in Turkish custody. The report cites continuing criminal cases against individuals arrested as long ago as 1993, as well as the use of evidence obtained through torture in Turkey's Heavy Penal Courts. The report also claims that judges are violating procedural protections meant to ensure a fair trial for defendants and are often sitting in judgment of the same case they presided over prior to the ECHR's ruling requiring new trials. The report comes at a crucial time when the Council of Europe is considering Turkey's human rights record in preparation for potential accession to the European Union. Read the official press release from Amnesty International.