Sudanese Government Now Stealing People’s Blood?

A few weeks ago, Human Rights Watch reported that Sudanese government forces raided a dormitory of female university students in Khartoum, and beat and arrested a number of Darfuri students. Apparently, the raid was conducted in retaliation for the women’s refusal to vacate the dormitory, which the authorities viewed as evidence of “seditious intent“.

The arrested students were taken to the National Security and Intelligence Service (NISS) offices and interrogated about their association with rebel groups operating in Darfur. Several of them ended up in Omdurman women’s prison, and at least one was beaten badly enough to require medical attention. They were also subjected to sexual harassment and assault. According to a women’s rights group, the authorities “forced some women to undress in the dorms, photographed them, and threatened to use the photos against them.”

As if all that weren’t bad enough, one of the young women says that the Sudanese authorities gave her drugs and took her blood.

So, readers, I ask you this: What possible reason could the Sudanese government have for stealing the blood of suspected dissidents?

WTF Friday, 4/18/2014

This one’s not funny, but it does tangentially involve George Clooney:

Recent Satellite Sentinel Project imagery of the Nuba Mountains reveals a “significant mobilization of Sudanese armed forces”, including a “a Chinese-made multiple rocket launcher system“. This comes on the heels of Sudan’s Defense Minister’s recent announcement of the opening of the summer military campaign season (no word on whether a giant pair of scissors and a ribbon-cutting ceremony were involved). Even more worryingly, the director of the National Intelligence and Security Services said last week that extra Rapid Support Forces (i.e. janjaweed militias) are being sent to the region to fight against the SPLM-N rebels.

So basically: Add Nuba Mountains to your list of places to be desperately worried about civilians in conflict this week.

H/T: Stephanie Schwartz

NOT cool, Sudan

Sudan Radio Service reports that security forces invaded the home of Professor Mahdi Amin al-Toum last night and arrested him along with 8 other academics.

These arrests come amidst a month-long crackdown on media and civil society, following protests over the cessation of oil subsidies. Dozens of people have been killed in attacks on protesters, and hundreds have been arrested and detained.

The detained academics were meeting to discuss the present political crisis. Their number includes Abdel Mitaal Girshab, a dual UK citizen who directs the Center for the Training and Development of Civil Society, an organization whose aims include “promoting sustainable peace, expanding democracy and building a culture of constitutionalism and good governance.” All things, sadly, that Khartoum simply can’t abide.

In case it needs saying: This is a serious abuse of human rights. These individuals, along with the many others still detained after the wave of mass arrests, must be released immediately.

WTF Friday, 6/28/2013

And you thought Rick “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done” Perry was bad on women’s issues…

Sudanese MP Dafa’a Allah Hasab Al-Rasool is currently at odds with his fellow parliamentarians over his motion to ban women’s participation in athletics. When the rest of the subcomittee balked at including the motion in a report on the Youth and Sports Ministry, Dafa’a Allah told them “I made this motion to protect your daughters and wives.”

Because if there’s anything Sudanese women need protection from, it’s the dangers of exercise.

H/T: Stephanie Schwartz

WTF Friday, 3/15/2013

According to the Sudan Tribune, Sudan (original flavor) is having some problems.

Not only are Southern Sudanese people allegedly coming north in droves to drink alcohol and commit adultery, but the law enforcement system has hit a snag. Doctors at Khartoum Hospital have refused to carry out court-ordered amputations, citing their Hippocratic Oath obligation not to chop off anyone’s limbs without a very good reason.

In a statement earlier this week, deputy chief justice Abdul Rahman Sharfi announced that doctors will be prosecuted if they fail to perform Sharia law mandated punishments. And, just in case, Sudanese judges may receive “special training” in amputation technique, allowing them to fill in for the doctors if necessary. So at least they’ve got a plan.

H/T: Stephanie Schwartz, who reads the Sudan Tribune so I don’t have to.

 

This Week in Advocacy Videos We’re Kind of Wigged out by

A tipster just sent us this link to the Enough Project’s latest SPLA propaganda video George-Clooney-in-Sudan video (embedded below). For those unable to watch, highlights include:

  • Graphic images of two maimed children, including a young boy whose hands had been blown off “less than an hour ago”
  • The line “for the first time since the Stone Age, people are living in caves”
  • The reduction of the conflict to “blacks who have been on this land since creation” vs. “invading Arabs who want to take their land.”
  • Hagiographic descriptions of the SPLA – er, sorry, we mean “brave Nuba rebels fighting for freedom.”

We don’t have the energy to go through this yet again, so if you’re wondering why we’re horrified by this, please refer to this excellent Dart Center tip sheet on working with victims and survivors.

OMG, WTF, ICC Part II: Kevin Heller Responds

At the end of our post on the ICC’s apparent investigation of non-Darfur atrocities in Sudan, we asked our friend Obi-Wan Heller for help.  Happily, he answered the call almost immediately:

“My best guess is — as they suggest — that the OTP has received assurances from the new South Sudanese government that it will either (1) ratify the Rome Statute and accept the Court’s jurisdiction retroactively, or (2) file a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute accepting jurisdiction on an hoc basis over the crimes the OTP is investigating. Either way, the issue would be how far back in time South Sudan could accept the Court’s jurisdiction. Kate and Amanda suggest that the relevant date would be 9 July 2011, South Sudan’s chosen independence day. That makes sense, but the issue is murky — as it always is when it comes to state formation and recognition. So I can imagine two arguments for more expansive retroactive jurisdiction. To begin with, South Sudan could argue that, for purposes of acceptance of jurisdiction, the relevant date is 7 February 2011, when the results of the independence referendum were formally published by the referendum commission. That would be enough to justify the OTP’s investigation, because the Time article notes that the investigation is focusing on crimes committed in late May 2011.

A second argument, however, is much more interesting. South Sudan could invoke the Eichmann “precedent” and argue that a state should have the right to give the Court retroactive jurisdiction over any and all crimes committed against its citizens, even if the state did not formally exist at the time of their commission. Both the District Court of Jerusalem and the Israeli Supreme Court accepted a similar argument (involving domestic jurisdiction) with regard to Eichmann’s crimes against the Jews during World War II, which obviously predated Israel’s formal existence as a state. Would the Court buy an argument based on Eichmann? I have no idea — but I don’t think it’s frivolous.”

The Eichmann precedent is an interesting idea. I agree that it’s not frivolous – I’m not sure I’d call it a mainstream legal theory, but that’s partly because the formation of new states is a relatively rare occurrence, so it hasn’t had a chance to come up. And Kevin is right that it is a good fit in some ways for the situation at issue here – new country, pre-independence atrocities against its citizens, etc.

On the other hand, the jurisdictional issues of Eichmann were different from those at issue here, in some pretty important ways. As Kevin says, Eichmann can be read broadly to stand for the rule that a state doesn’t violate international law by exercising jurisdiction retroactively over crimes committed against its citizens before the state formally existed. However, that is passive personality jurisdiction (a fancy lawyer term for “jurisdiction over crimes in which your citizens were victims”), which the ICC pretty clearly doesn’t have.

Rather, the Court borrows its member states’ active personality jurisdiction (fancy lawyer for “jurisdiction over crimes committed by your nationals”), and territorial jurisdiction (just what it sounds like – jurisdiction over crimes committed within the state’s territory.)  It seems to me that it’s particularly a stretch to make territorial jurisdiction retroactive, because, unlike other bases for jurisdiction, territory belongs to one state at a time. Until independence, South Sudan’s territory was part of Sudan, and under its territorial jurisdiction. If territorial jurisdiction were made retroactive here for the ICC’s purposes, would that also retroactively deprive Sudan of jurisdiction over that territory? Would Sudan and South Sudan be considered to have concurrently held jurisdiction over the territory during the pre-independence period?  Either way, that is a much, much bigger can of worms than Eichmann was.

Moreover, in Eichmann, Israeli law expressly granted Israeli courts retroactive, extraterritorial jurisdiction over the Nazis’ crimes. The international law issues were about absence of law: the Israeli high court found that international law did not explicitly bar retroactive criminal statutes, or the criminalization of conduct taking place outside a state’s borders but affecting its citizens. This new Sudanese investigation strikes me as almost exactly the opposite situation. There is no explicitly retroactive law for the ICC to rely on here. And rather than just having to prove an absence of an international law prohibition, the Court would have to find that the case fits within the narrow category of the Court’s jurisdiction under the Rome Statute, which, for the reasons in the preceding paragraph, I’m doubtful it can do.

And, as Kate points out in her comment to Kevin’s post, even if the Court were to Eichmann this all the way home, that would still only cover crimes that took place on the territory of what is now South Sudan. Which means that the investigations into what happened in Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Nuba Mountains would still require a Security Council resolution to go anywhere. Which brings us back to our original question

OMG, WTF ICC?

So this one really threw us for a loop.

TIME claims to have obtained an internal ICC memo showing that the Court is “compiling evidence of possible recent war crimes in southern Sudan, allegedly directed by Sudanese Defense Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein.” Apparently, in addition to the Prosecutor’s request for a warrant for Hussein in connection with attacks on civilians in Darfur, “the ICC is separately building a case that Hussein may be behind the killing of civilians over the past year in Kordofan, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile state and South Sudan.”

Internets, help us figure out what’s going on here. How can the ICC be investigating these events?

To review: There are three paths to an ICC case. The first is a referral of a situation by an involved state. The second is Security Council authorization. The third is that the Office of the Prosecutor can initiate its own investigation, but only into alleged events either (1) occurring on the territory of a state that’s accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction, or (2) perpetrated by a national of a state that’s accepted the ICC’s jurisdiction.

Sudan is not a member of the ICC, and President al-Bashir is not exactly besties with Moreno-Ocampo, so we think it’s unlikely Khartoum referred this situation to the Prosecutor.  The newly independent South Sudan has not signed up to the ICC yet, so they probably didn’t do it either. (Although there is a mechanism through which a non-signatory state can accept jurisdiction of the court over specific crimes occurring on its territory. In the case of South Sudan, this would likely only be possible for crimes occuring since July 9, 2011, when they assumed sovereign authority.)

The Security Council didn’t refer these events to the ICC either. While Security Council resolution 1593 expressly requested that the ICC take up the issue of Darfur, that referral was limited to events taking place in Darfur since 2002.  None of the new areas supposedly included in the memo are located in Darfur.  So, no jurisdiction there.

And as far as we can tell, the Prosecutor should also have been estopped from initiating his own investigation because of Sudan’s and South Sudan’s non-membership.

So, uh, what gives?  Did the TIME reporter get an Enough Project report and mistakenly conclude it was an internal ICC memo?  Or is there some other reason why the ICC, a court of limited jurisdiction and limited resources, would be spending the latter on an investigation that is clearly outside of the former?

Help us, Kevin Jon Heller, you’re our only hope!

WTF Friday, 5/27/2011

Can we please do away with the term “man crush”? Otherwise this article is gold. “In between discussions of tiger poaching, Ernest Hemingway and the fragility of human existence…avatar of manliness…You’re going to have to remind me who [Dmitry Medvedev] is…” Fucking gold, dude.

Some really insightful thoughts on North and South Sudanese relations from U.S. envoy, Princeton Lyman: “This is not a marriage made in heaven. The two may not kiss on the cheek but they do have to shake hands.” Ah, metaphors.
Hm. Re-ignition of protests against the female driving ban in Saudia Arabia occurs right around the same time as the re-ignition of a certain Summer blockbuster series. Will the history books cite the Arab Spring or Diesel Summer as inspiration?