Public Letter: How Canada Can Reclaim Its Reputation for International Justice

As scholars and observers of international criminal justice, the easiest thing for us to do is to point out the project’s shortcomings and flaws. It is easy to criticize states that don’t support the Court when they should, to condemn countries that don’t meet their obligations when we believe they must. This is, of course, important work. But we too seldom think through what states could do to repair their impact on international justice beyond complying with international law.

It is safe to say that Canadians have been particularly frustrated with Canada’s diminished role and interest in international criminal justice. In particular, the country’s relationship with the International Criminal Court (ICC) has soured in recent years. All too often in the halls of The Hague, you can hear “what happened?” or even “let’s not go there” when Canada’s engagement with the ICC is brought up. But Canada is now in the midst of an election, one that holds out the promise that a newly elected government could re-visit its relationship with international justice and would dedicate energy to rescuing its reputation in the field.

To this end, last spring I drafted an article focused on the policies that a new Canadian government could adopt to improve its global image and impact on issues of global justice. Over the last few weeks, these issues have been the subject of an ongoing discussion with the undersigned scholars and experts. The result of this collaborative effort is the following public letter, signed by twenty Canadian academics and civil society leaders in international criminal justice. The letter, which has also been published at Huffington Post and which will be published in French in Le Devoir and La Presse next week, can be found below.

We would love your thoughts on the letter and, if you agree, to have you share it.

Thanks for reading!

(Photo: Piotr Drabik / Flickr)

(Photo: Piotr Drabik / Flickr)

This election’s debates on Canada’s role in the world have been refreshing for those of us concerned about Canada’s foreign policy record. One crucial issue, however, has not been mentioned during the campaign: Canada’s commitment to international justice.

As Canadian scholars and practitioners committed to strengthening access to justice for victims and survivors of international crimes, we urge whichever party forms the next government to commit to making global justice a priority and to return Canada as a leading voice in the fight against impunity.

Canada has historically been a leading voice for international accountability. Because of its efforts, as well as those of like-minded states, there is an increasing expectation around the world that the perpetration of international crimes will be met with efforts to achieve justice.

Mass violence and mass atrocities being committed in Syria, Ukraine, the Central African Republic and North Korea suggest that states are falling short of their obligations. Expectations are not being met. Canada can and should resuscitate its leadership on this front.

But the recent record is grim. Despite calls by dozens of states and the United Nations Secretary General, Canada was the last Western state to lend its support to a UN Security Council referral of the crisis in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The government has led calls to punish Palestinians with “consequences” for joining the ICC. In 2014, Canada was the only state party of the ICC to oppose the consensus on expanding the ICC’s budget. We hope that the next government will take the opportunity to rescue Canada’s impact and reputation on international justice.

Changing the Rhetoric

Changing Ottawa’s tone and attitude towards international justice is the easiest and most obvious shift that a new government could make. But it is also the most important.

A change in rhetoric could be spearheaded by a celebration of the remarkable role Canadians have played and are playing in shaping the project of international criminal justice. Louise Arbour was the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and remains amongst the most influential international legal minds in the world. Philippe Kirsch, a former ICC Judge, was the court’s first-ever president, serving until 2009. Since 2012, James Stewart has been the Deputy Prosecutor of the ICC. In addition, Canada has spawned some of the leading practitioners in international courts the world over and played an indispensable role at the 1998 Rome Conference which established the ICC.

The contributions of all of these figures should be openly and widely celebrated. The tone of the new government’s rhetoric should be propelled by a desire to take pride in Canada’s role in pushing the project of international justice forward.

Make Justice a Diplomatic Priority

To walk the walk as well as talk the talk, Canada could appoint an International Justice Ambassador to take up the task of representing Canada’s positions abroad on matters relating to international accountability. Here, Canada can look to the U.S. for inspiration.

Since 1997, Washington has had an ambassador-at-large for war crimes Issues. The Canadian government could create a similar position, establishing a public, political and legal office to represent the country in international fora and to carry the baton of Canada’s commitment to international justice. Continue reading

Posted in Canada, International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Justice | 1 Comment

The Curious Timing of Announcements at the ICC

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at a media availability (Photo: Nation File)

ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda at a media availability (Photo: Nation File)

International institutions, political parties and big companies. Something all of these have in common is their interest in sharing good news when the world is paying attention and bad news when it isn’t. The logic is simple: the sharing of ‘wins’ should be planned to coincide with the most advantageous moment in the news cycle, when they will get the most coverage; ‘losses’, on the contrary, should be shared when global scrutiny is lowest – at the end of the week, weekends, or when bigger news items, like the Super Bowl or a presidential election, will dominate the headlines. This doesn’t always work out in pretty ways.

As a young student, I will never forget the a story told by Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian general who bravely attempted but ultimately failed to ensure that the United Nations intervened to end the slaughter of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Dallaire recounted the story of a humanitarian evacuation organised by the French government. The authorities in Paris requested Dallaire to choose appropriate candidates to be taken, by plane, out of Rwanda. It must have been disturbingly difficult to identify those who were most vulnerable and also those who were likely to be able to survive the long trip from Kigali to Paris. In the end, a few dozen mostly children were loaded onto the plane. The aircraft made a pit-stop somewhere on the African continent (I don’t recall where, exactly). But instead of simply landing, refueling and carrying on its journey, the plane stayed there for hours. During that time, a number of children died. To a stunned crowd, Dallaire explained that the decision to keep the plane grounded was made by French government officials who did not want the plane to arrive at Charles de Gaulle airport in the middle of the night. Instead, they wanted their humanitarian act to be witnessed by journalists and cameramen who, they surmised, would only come to the airport once the sun was up.

Of course, few, if any, public relations decisions are quite as distasteful, nefarious or inhumane. Dallaire’s story is an extreme example of a sick – and sickeningly costly – attempt by a government to take advantage of the media cycle in order to reap political rewards. But seeking to manipulate the news cycle to their benefit is, for better or worse, what all organizations with institutional interests do. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is no different.

Take, for example, the day that prosecutors at the ICC withdrew their case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Even the Court’s proponents admitted that it represented an awful day in the life of the Court, one which threw the institution into “crisis” and exposed its severe limitations in the fight against impunity.

Since at least 2011, prosecutors had insisted that Kenyatta was among those most responsible for the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Soon thereafter, a string of controversial yet remarkable developments besieged the trial: the prosecution’s poor construction of the case against Kenyatta; his election in March 2013 as president of Kenya; the intimidation and murder of dozens of witnesses who testified against him. In the end, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda “decided to withdraw the charges against Mr. Kenyatta after carefully considering all the evidence available”, calling her move “a dark day for international criminal justice”. Her words – and decision – came on a ‘bad news Friday’, when the news cycle was just about retiring for the week.

Now, if institutional ‘losses’ and ‘bad days’ should be dumped onto the media at the end of the work week, surely it holds that ‘wins’ should be shared when the news-cycle is full swing. But a recent ‘win’ by the ICC seems to be at odds with this trend.

Less than two weeks ago, the ICC announced that Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi had been transferred into the Court’s custody from Niger. Al Faqi is alleged to have played a lead role in the destruction of UNESCO-protected religious shrines in Timbuktu. He also represented a number of important firsts for the ICC: the first suspect from Mali to be surrendered to The Hague; the first member of a radical Islamic group, Ansar Dine, to face prosecution at the ICC;  the first person charged with the war crime of destroying cultural monuments to end up at the Court. Just as it is hard to argue that the collapse of the Kenyatta case wasn’t a loss for the ICC, it is nearly impossible to deny that the surrender of Al Faqi wasn’t a ‘win’. Continue reading

Posted in Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi (Abou Tourab), International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Justice, Justice, Kenya, Kenya and the ICC, Mali | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How the Canadian Government’s Pursuit of ‘Justice’ Makes Canadians and the World Less Secure

The scene on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, following a gunman's attack in December 2014 (Photo: Reuters: Chris Wattie)

The scene on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, following a gunman’s attack in December 2014 (Photo: Reuters: Chris Wattie)

Canada currently finds itself in the midst of a historically long election. Perhaps more so than any other campaign in recent memory, the world is paying attention. Will Canadians re-elect a government that has tarnished the country’s global reputation on everything from climate change to human rights? Or will they elect a government dedicated to resuscitating the country’s reputation and impact in the international arena? As of now, it’s anyone’s guess who will get the keys to the Prime Minister’s residence at 24 Sussex. But one issue that deserves greater scrutiny is how the current Conservative government’s policies of justice and accountability have come at the expense of domestic and international security.

Wait a second… Isn’t Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who came into power following the so-called “sponsorship scandal” that decimated the Liberal Party, all about accountability? Isn’t his pitch to Canadians that he is the only leader with a steady hand in uncertain times, the only political leader willing to make the tough decisions to keep Canadians safe from extremism at home and terrorism abroad? That is certainly how Harper wants his track-record and platform to be consumed by Canadians. But it could not be further from the truth.

In the lead-up and during this election, observers have pointed out that the Harper government has implemented policies which essentially establish a form of two-tier citizenship. The Conservative’s most recent effort on this front, Bill C-24, permits the government to withdraw the citizenship of Canadians convicted of terrorism and who have dual-nationality. According to the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association,

As a result of this new law, dual citizens and people who have immigrated to Canada can have their citizenship taken away while other Canadians cannot. The government’s press release last week tried to justify this discriminatory law by raising the threat of “jihadi terrorism”…

Under this law, the only Canadians who can never lose their citizenship are those born in Canada who do not have another nationality (and are not eligible to apply for another nationality). No matter what crimes they may be accused of, these first-class citizens can never have their citizenship taken away. On the other hand, Canadians with another nationality (and those who are eligible to obtain another nationality) now have second-class status, even if they were born in Canada: under Bill C-24, their citizenship can be stripped.

This is undoubtedly an affront to the very meaning of Canadian citizenship and to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Many have rightfully pointed to the moral corruption of the bill as well as the government’s general wrecking-ball approach to balancing civil rights and national security. But what seems to be lost in this debate is how, in practice rather than just in principle, Harper’s approach to justice and accounability is deeply misguided. Indeed, the government’s policies make Canadians and the world less safe.

Consider this all-too plausible scenario. Let’s say that a dual-national is stripped of his citizenship after being convicted of terrorism and supporting ISIS terrorist activities in his birthplace of Syria. The terrorist is consequently stripped of his Canadian citizenship, leaving the individual with only Syrian citizenship. What happens next? Rather than prosecuting the terrorist and putting him in jail, the government would deport him. Where to? Back to Syria where, armed with an emboldened grudge against Canada, the likelihood of him engaging in the kind of terrorist activities that threaten Canadians and the world are enhanced.

How do we know this is true? Because of the government’s record.

In 2011, the government released a list of thirty alleged war criminals believed to be residing in Canada and whom it wanted to see deported – or as the Immigration Minister so primitively put it at the time, “rounded up and kicked out of Canada”. The government relied on Canadians believing that simply getting rid of war criminal was a good in itself. In essence, it was a preposterous and political game of “if we can’t see the problem, it doesn’t exist.” Continue reading

Posted in Canada, Human Rights, International Law, Justice, Terrorism, War crimes | Tagged | 3 Comments

An Agenda for ‘Peace’ in the ‘Peace versus Justice’ Debate

screen-shot-2011-07-09-at-10-19-03As many readers will know, over the past six years, my academic work has focused on the so-called “peace versus justice” debate. The idea behind my research was to re-think how we assess the impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on peace processes and conflict resolution. Last year, these efforts culminated in a PhD thesis entitled ‘Justice in Conflict: The ICC in Libya and Northern Uganda’.

I could not be more thrilled that this work will be published by Oxford University Press next year (hopefully in the Spring). In the meantime, I wanted to share with readers and anyone interested, the analytical framework that forms the core of my research. In rejecting the rather stale and recycled claims within the ‘peace versus justice’ debate, the central aim of this framework is to interrogate and re-define the questions that we ask when we investigate the ICC’s impacts on the conflicts in which it intervenes. In subsequent chapters, I use the framework to guide my empirical research into the Court’s effects in Libya and northern Uganda.

Below is the introduction to the paper. The chapter can be accessed and downloaded in its entirety (for free!) here.

Despite a raft of sophisticated arguments regarding the potential positive and negative impacts of the International Criminal Court on the conflicts in which it intervenes, the gamut of arguments within peace-justice debate have proven insufficient in elucidating a clear and rigorous framework for how to study the Court’s effects. Again, there is no doubt that the ICC has complicated conflict resolution. This is not in dispute. But the arguments within the peace-justice debate, as currently conceived, have not provided a sufficient means to identify and analyze how conflicts are shaped by interventions by the Court and what impact this has on potential peace, justice and conflict processes. As a result, despite a desire to move beyond the rigid and dichotomous nature of the debate, a way to do so remains elusive.

Given the amount of time and energy spent on the ‘peace versus justice’ debate, why has a more rigorous research agenda on the effects of international criminal justice on peace processes not emerged? Part of the reason is that the key issues, phases and dynamics that affect and constitute a potential peace process have been neglected. This chapter seeks to fill this lacuna by offering an analytical framework with which to assess and analyze the effects of ICC interventions on ongoing and active conflicts.

Peace in the “Peace versus Justice” Debate   

In assessments of the effects of international criminal justice on peace, peace has generally been held as a constant, defined in its negative variant – the cessation of large-scale, direct forms of physical violence (see, e.g., Lie et al 2006). This is unsurprising. As a concise variable, the reliance on negative peace is “understandable given methodological concerns.” (Höglund and Kovacs 2010, 369). In this context, in order for the ICC to have a positive effect on peace, the work of the Court must be associated with a decrease in, or cessation of, direct, physical violence. Conversely, the effects of the ICC on peace are negative if the Court’s intervention precipitates or is associated with continued conflict or intensified violence. A recent example of this approach is a study conducted by Courtney Hillebrecht (2011), who has measured changes in the incidence of conflict interactions (violence) in Libya against key moments in the ICC’s intervention in Libya.

Peace can also be considered in its positive variant, implying something ‘greater’ than negative peace – social justice and the lack of structural violence (see Galtung 1969, 167-191). Here, the effects of the ICC would be positive if they contributed to the achievement of ‘reconciliation’, and social cohesion in the states in which the Court intervened. The ICC would have negative effects if it prevented such goals from being achieved by, for example, contributing to the entrenchment of social divisions.

Both approaches are problematic. While any finding that the ICC leads actors to respond violently would be important, focusing on negative peace requires the attribution of causality to the ICC for changes in levels of violence. However, by assuming that there is a clear correlation between patterns in violence and the decision-making of the Court, analyses like Hillebrecht’s risk decontextualizing political violence, attributing responsibility for increases and decreases in violence to the ICC without adequately considering other factors which also contribute to levels of violence. They also do not tell us why particular actors may respond to the ICC’s activities with increased or decreased levels of violence. Moreover, an approach focused myopically on violence neglects empirical findings that increases in violence may, however counterintuitively, have positive effects on the potential resolution of a given conflict (see Greig and Diehl 2012, 108-112). In short, such studies cannot adequately demonstrate the complexity of issues and dynamics which affect levels of violent behaviour.

Focusing on positive peace is even more problematic. The achievement of positive peace is undoubtedly a noble and worthy aspiration. However, it is a distant, long-term and sometimes conceptually ‘fuzzy’ goal whose ultimate achievability is unclear. It may be the distant end to which societies aspire but never reach. Moreover, it isn’t clear how the ICC, as a judicial institution, could or should contribute to a society’s pursuit of social justice or the eradication structural violence.

Continue reading

Posted in Academic Articles / Books, International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Justice | 1 Comment

What We Know about the First Islamic Extremist at the ICC

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at his first hearing at the ICC (Photo: International Criminal Court)

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi at his first hearing at the ICC (Photo: International Criminal Court)

From the instant that news emerged that Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi had been surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on allegations that he was responsible for the war crime of destroying shrines in Timbuktu, Mali, the circumstances around how Al Faqi got to the ICC have been shrouded in mystery. The Office of the Prosecutor’s press release, issued at an ungodly hour last Saturday, was rather short on details. But more and more is becoming clear. Here is what we know about the first-ever Islamic extremist to be shipped off to The Hague to face war crimes charges.

Al Faqi, also known by his nom de guerre Abou Tourab is, by his own admission, approximately 40 years old. Allegedly a member of the radical Islamic group Ansar Dine, he is well educated and, in fact, perhaps once of the most clever individuals ever to come into the custody of the ICC. According to some, only Callixte Mbarushimana may have been more intelligent. In an op-ed in The Guardian, one of Al Mahdi’s teachers described her former pupil as a decent student but as “the wrong man” for the ICC to target in the grand scheme of injustice in Mali:

He gained a passable mark because he did his homework and he learned. He was courteous and respectful, but he had sly eyes and the same beard he must now wear in the corridors of the Dutch court…

…So the masters student was in fact a fundamentalist who was quickly radicalised when the jihadists arrived. But is this man who was handed over to the ICC by the authorities in Niger deserving of the role in which he is being cast – as a major player in the occupation? No, there are many more deserving of justice…

Al Faqi is just a little fish. But in Mali it is the little fish who are caught.

But the observation that Al Faqi is a “little fish” may not be as relevant as first meets the eye. The most recent prosecutorial strategy report from the Office of the Prosecutor has stated that prosecutors will seek, where appropriate, to go after lower- and mid-level perpetrators – and not just those “most responsible” like heads of states or rebel leaders. Moreover, in the coming days and weeks, as suggested below, we may find that Al Faqi was more involved in the perpetration of atrocities than has been suggested to date.

Still, it begs asking: how was this “little fish” caught and brought to The Hague in the first place?

Continue reading

Posted in Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi (Abou Tourab), ICC Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Justice, Mali | 6 Comments

The ICC Nabs a Perpetrator of Cultural Crimes in Mali

The partially destroyed Alpha Moya mausoleum in Timbuktu in 2013 (Photo: World Monuments Fund)

The partially destroyed Alpha Moya mausoleum in Timbuktu in 2013 (Photo: World Monuments Fund)

It is a fool’s game to predict what will happen next at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Today, the world woke up to news that the ICC had gained custody of Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, a member of the Ansar Dine group allegedly responsible for the brazen destruction of shrines in Timbuktu, Mali.

It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote that the Court had gone virtually silent with regards to its intervention in Mali. In response to that post, a number of sources with intimate knowledge of the investigation insisted that Mali was not a blindspot for the Court and that there would be important developments announced in the near future. It is never easy deciphering when such claims are sincere but in this case they certainly have been – and how.

In its public statement, rather oddly released in the early hours of Saturday morning when public and media attention is low, the Office of the Prosecutor went to great lengths to emphasize that it considered cultural crimes to be as serious as acts of direct physical violence:

Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, also known as “Abou Tourab”, is accused of allegedly committing the war crime of intentionally directing attacks against ten buildings dedicated to religion and historic monuments in the ancient city of Timbuktu, Mali.  A zealous member of an armed group, self-proclaimed “Ansar Dine”, he played a predominant and active role in the functioning of the local structure put in place during the group’s occupation of Timbuktu in 2012, as detailed in my Office’s application for the warrant of arrest which led to his surrender.

The people of Mali deserve justice for the attacks against their cities, their beliefs and their communities.  Let there be no mistake: the charges we have brought against Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi involve most serious crimes; they are about the destruction of irreplaceable historic monuments, and they are about a callous assault on the dignity and identity of entire populations, and their religious and historical roots.  The inhabitants of Northern Mali, the main victims of these attacks, deserve to see justice done…

…It is rightly said that “cultural heritage is the mirror of humanity.” Such attacks affect humanity as a whole. We must stand up to the destruction and defacing of our common heritage.

In addition to never having prosecuted a member of an extremist Islamic group, the Court, as it noted in its statement, has never prosecuted cultural crimes. But with the destruction of fifteen revered shrines in Timbuktu and the incessant war against cultural sites by the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, attacks on such historical monuments have gained unprecedented international attention. The Prosecutor is clearly interested in meeting at least some of growing international demand that those responsible for the wanton destruction of monuments of cultural and historical relevance be held to account. There should thus be no doubt that the Court’s prosecution of Al Mahdi is a test case for future prosecutions of cultural crimes and will expand how the Prosecutor views her mandate.

The arrest and surrender of Al Mahdi also appears to be a pinnacle moment for ICC-state cooperation. It is no secret that the ICC struggles to gain cooperation from relevant states and that, even when it does, states often seek to instrumentals and manipulate the Court for their own benefit. The surrender of Al Mahdi, however, seems to hint at an altogether a different story.

Continue reading

Posted in Cultural Crimes, ICC Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), International Criminal Justice, Mali, Niger | 3 Comments

Striking the Right Balance: Truth at the Heart of Transitional Justice in Colombia

Sophie Haspeslagh joins JiC for an analysis of the recent breakthrough on transitional justice in the Colombian peace process. Sophie is a PhD candidate at the London School of Economics where she is researching the engagement of armed groups and the effects of proscription on peace processes.

An awkward handshake but a remarkable breakthrough (Photo: AP)

An awkward handshake but a remarkable breakthrough (Photo: AP)

It wasn’t long ago that the peace process between the FARC and the Colombian government seemed stuck. Little if any progress was being made and the biggest barrier to a final accord – agreeing on how to achieve justice and accountability for past atrocities – was proving impossible to overcome. But just this week all of the parties agreed to a plan to achieve transitional justice. It was undoubtedly a remarkable development. But did Colombia and the FARC strike the right balance between peace and justice?

When I was interviewing the FARC on the peace negotiations in Havana earlier this year, the atmosphere was tense. The FARC, the rebel faction fighting the Colombian government since the early 1960s, responded to renewed military offensive by suspending their unilateral ceasefire. At that moment, reaching an agreement seemed like a distant prospect, despite the fact that the parties had already been negotiating for three years. Energy and stamina were at their lowest point and those closely involved in the negotiations confided that discussions had been at an impasse for over a year on the issue of justice. After having reached substantive agreements on the three previous agenda points (land reform, political participation, and the illegal drug trade), the talks had stalled on the age-old dilemma of peace versus justice.

Fast-forward to this week and President Juan Manuel Santos met with the leader of the FARC, Timoleón Jiménez (in itself an unprecedented event) in Havana, to sign an agreement on the issue of transitional justice and the establishment of the ‘Special jurisdiction for peace’. As the end of the negotiations approaches and the government announces that the final peace agreement will be signed by 23 March 2016, here are some thoughts on how we got to this point and whether the Colombians have succeeded in finding the right balance between peace and justice.

The Victim’s Delegations: An Innovative Scenario

One innovative development during the peace talks has been the efforts to ensure that victims had access to the negotiating table. This is a unique occurrence in peace negotiations across the globe. Five different delegations of victims travelled to Havana to meet and share their stories and recommendations with the negotiating parties. The sixty people who made up the five delegations were chosen based on the principle that they represented a particular category of victimization. They had suffered from all types of crimes (land mines, kidnapping, homicide, threats, extra-judicial execution etc.), from range of armed actors (the FARC, paramilitary and the Colombian army) and came from a diversity of Colombian communities (Afro-Colombian, indigenous, different social-economic classes, human rights defenders etc.).

Not only did these victim’s delegations put a human face on suffering of the 7.6 Million registered victims of Colombia’s conflict, they also had a profound impact on the negotiating parties. Speaking to the FARC in Havana, it was clear to me that they had been deeply moved by their interaction with these delegations. One central message the victim delegations effectively promoted was their demand that the government and the FARC remain at the table until they had an agreement. They also focused on the importance of truth telling so that their experiences and trauma would be recognised.

Indeed, the yearning for truth has been at the centre of the victims’ demands. As Virginia Bouvier points out, a third of the 24,000 proposals put forward by victims have focused on the importance of truth.

‘Special Jurisdiction for Peace’ – Restorative Not Punitive Justice

The FARC had long maintained that they would not allow any of their fighters go to prison. Indeed, why would a group that does not consider itself defeated readily agree to have its members shipped off to jail? Why would they negotiate their way into prison? This has been a central sticking point as a large part of Colombian society rightly expects to see justice achieved, especially for the most heinous crimes committed during the war. Unlike the previous negotiation with other left-wing insurgent groups in Colombia in the late 1990s that led to widespread amnesties, the fact that Colombia ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2002 has meant that a blanket amnesty is no longer an option. Continue reading

Posted in Colombia, FARC, Guest Posts, International Criminal Court (ICC), Transitional Justice | 3 Comments