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?

WTF Friday, 3/25/11

Not cute. Ok kinda cute but wtf? Dad really does appear to be trying to nestle that thing under the kid’s arm. Or at least I hope that’s his dad. Well, part of me does and part of me doesn’t. Paradox.

At first I thought this said “dessert news.” Would have been appropriate. Jokes aside, let’s keep Utah in our hearts and prayers.

Another misunderstanding on my part, I thought for sure this was referring to a political party. Wrong again, it’s an actual party.

WTF Friday, 2/4/2011

Missed pun opportunity of the week: Demockracy. Am I the only one in journalism (erm…) trying anymore?

A U.S. appeals court has upheld the landmark September ruling that companies cannot be tried in U.S. courts for violations of international human rights laws. The suit, brought against Shell by families of seven Nigerians who were executed by a former military government for protesting oil exploration in the 1990s, may make its way to the Supreme Court. This is definitely one to pay attention to.

Are Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez trying to tell Evo Morales something? You knee one guy in the groin and all of a sudden it’s an international intervention…

PS, there’s also some other stuff going on.

WTF Friday, 1/21/11

Raise your hand if you thought this was about an actual volcano in Southern Sudan. Seriously though that’s a hot metaphor.

The title says it all: “Babies, the dead on voters roll.” People born in 1897 and lil babies born yesterday (well, 2007) are all ready to vote in Zimbabwe’s general election this year. This gives me an idea for a PSA, kind of a mix between Night of the Living Dead and Gummo warning about the dangers of voter fraud.
So apparently Baby Doc’s return to Haiti was more than just a nostalgic visit. He was actually trying to unlock a Swiss bank account worth $5.7 million. Guess he left his pin number on the nightstand? This gives me a good idea for Ocean’s Fourteen.