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Archive for June 22nd, 2013

International Criminal Court’s sex scandals

Posted by African Press International on June 22, 2013

ICC commissions an independent external review of the allegations of sexual assault

The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has commissioned an independent external review of the allegations of sexual assault of four individuals under the ICC92s protection programme by a former staff member working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This decision follows the completion of an initial internal inquiry that was announced on 12 April 2013. The ICC is determined to address the serious allegations concerned with great rigor and transparency.

The results of the initial internal inquiry confirmed the seriousness of the= allegations and the need for more detailed investigation of the surrounding circumstances. Furthermore the incident highlighted operational and organizational issues that require more in-depth review. The Court is already in th= e process of implementing operational changes pending the outcome of the ind= ependent review.

Composed of four highly-qualified specialists with extensive experience at a national and international level in the relevant areas the Review team is m= andated to establish all facts and circumstances surrounding the allegations= of sexual crimes against the four individuals and to identify all responsib= le persons, including those responsible for exercising managerial oversight= over the suspected perpetrator. It will also provide an analysis of the nature and sufficiency of the Court=92s response to the allegations. Finally,= the independent Review team will provide an analysis of and recommendations= for the Court 92s victim and witness protection systems.

The results of the external review will be submitted to the ICC Registrar. A public version, giving due consideration to the requirement to ensure prote= ction of all victims and witnesses of the Court, will be provided to the Pre= sident of the Assembly of the States Parties, Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, an= d will be publicised.

President Intelmann welcomed the announcement by the Registrar of the establishment of the Independent Review Team with a broad and comprehensive mandat= e. Furthermore, she expressed the hope that the outcome of the external review would include tangible steps to ensure that the Court92s policy of zero tolerance of any type of misconduct of such nature is strictly enforced.

 

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source ICC

 

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Talking peace for DRC: M23 Kampala talks set to resume

Posted by African Press International on June 22, 2013

The M23 rebellion has displaced hundreds of thousands in North Kivu

KAMPALA,  – Delegates representing the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the rebel M23 are back in Kampala, Uganda, for a fresh round of peace talks, but analysts say that unless both sides are fully committed to the negotiations, a political solution to the crisis in the DRC’s North Kivu Province is unlikely.

The talks, which kicked off in December 2012 under the auspices of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), broke down in April; M23 representatives walked out following a decision by the UN to deploy an intervention brigade to neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations says the 3,069-strong force, comprising troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania, should be fully operational by mid-July. The force has been given a more forceful mandate than any previous military contingent with a UN peacekeeping mission.

“The representatives of both delegations are back here in Kampala. The talks will be resuming any time. We hope there will be commitment by both teams this time round,” Crispus Kiyonga, the chief mediator and Uganda‘s Minister of Defence, told IRIN. “We shall be working towards the signing of the peace agreement. But how soon it will be reached depends on the progress and commitment of both parties. The fact that both parties keep coming and going back shows some commitment.”

On a recent visit to DRC, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon and his special envoy to the region, former Irish President Mary Robinson, urged both parties to remain committed to the Kampala-mediated talks.

An estimated 900,000 people are displaced in North Kivu, more than half of them by the M23 rebellion; tens of thousands more have fled across the DRC’s borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Humanitarians continue to flag the issue of civilian protection even as the DRC national army (FARDC) and M23 engage in intermittent battles in and around the provincial capital Goma, where fighting over the past year has displaced more than 100,000.

In May, four days of fighting between the government and the rebels saw thousands flee their homes for overcrowded camps on the outskirts of the city.

Commitment

Some regional analysts are suspicious of M23’s return to negotiations.

“The M23’s return to the negotiation table should be seen first and foremost as a PR [public relations] manoeuvre. The movement wants to show that it is seeking peace by all means,” said Michel Thill, Great Lakes Region programme manager at Rift Valley Institute (RVI). “Its demands, however, are well beyond what Kinshasa would agree to negotiate with what they consider terrorists – the M23 knows that.

“The tensions are mounting between the M23, the FARDC and the civil population in North Kivu, in the face of repetitive claims by UN senior officials and the Secretary-General himself that the international brigade will be deployed in mid-July,” he added. “The renewed fighting in late May just before Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Goma proves this.”

Other analysts see it differently: “The return from M23 to the negotiation table is a sign from M23 and its external support they want to solve the crisis politically. M23 does not receive the same support as in November 2012 and is no longer in a position to take Goma or conduct an aggressive war,” said Marc-Andre Lagrange, DRC senior analyst for the think tank International Crisis Group (ICG). “Another question is how strong the M23 really is at the moment. There are rumours that Sultani Makenga [M23’s military leader] is seriously ill and weak… It remains to be seen if the movement stands up to the current pressure.”

Both the rebels and the government say a military solution is not feasible

M23 representatives deny that Makenga is unwell. They also accuse the DRC government of lacking the will to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis in North Kivu, and of preparing FARDC and its allies for further clashes in the region.

“We have to seize this opportunity of the international community’s commitment to end this rebellion through dialogue. The military option can’t end the conflict,” Rene Abandi, the head of M23’s Kampala delegation, told IRIN.

In a 13 June letter to Special Envoy Robinson, the rebels accused the government of refusing to negotiate at the Kampala peace talks and of preparing for further conflict in North Kivu, claims government officials have denied.

“Their allegations are baseless,” Jean Charles Okoto Lulakombe, DRC ambassador to Uganda, told IRIN. “Some members of the government delegation are already here, and some are coming. We are determined to end this conflict through dialogue. We believe it is only the talks that can end this conflict, not military [methods]. We can’t continue to allow our people to suffer and die because of this conflict.”

Beyond talks

But analysts agree that it will take more than peace talks – and even peace agreements – to solve the problems in eastern DRC.

“I think a return to Kampala without a genuine commitment from both sides to address the root causes of the conflict, reasons for continuity and failures of past talks is a waste of time and money. It’s simply a peace joke,” said Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at Uganda’s Makerere University’s Refugee Law Project.

“DRC needs more than just peace talks. There is need for a shift in how the state fulfils its obligation to citizens and how local resources are accessed and utilized locally, nationally and internationally,” he added.

“Anyone interested in returning peace to the DRC should focus on strengthening the Congolese government, not undermining it… There must be investment in ensuring that the government in Kinshasa is both legitimate and strong enough to have full control of its vast territory,” said Nicholas Opiyo, a Kampala-based legal and political analyst. “The internal governance framework of the DRC must be re-engineered to be both accommodative of the various interests in the DRC and meaningful to the majority – if not all – Congolese.”

“The solution for peace in the Kivus is not just political or only military. Economic cooperation has to be put in place between the countries of the Great Lakes,” said ICG’s Lagrange. “At the same time, minorities have to be protected and land issues solved. This can be achieved through politics.”

so/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.og

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Huge need for aid to Syrian refugees

Posted by African Press International on June 22, 2013

“The situation in Syria and its neighbouring countries is more acute than the worst forecasts predicted at the turn of the year. We are facing the most serious refugee crisis since the Second World War,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide during a visit to the border area between Jordan and Syria today.

“The pressure caused by the refugees and ethnic divides seen in the war in Syria are fuelling concerns that the conflict could spread to neighbouring countries,” Mr Eide said.

The humanitarian situation inside Syria is deteriorating steadily. After two years of civil war, public services have ceased to function in large parts of the country and much of the country’s infrastructure has been destroyed. According to the UN, more than 1.6 million people have fled Syria. If the current trend continues, the number of refugees could have risen to 3.5 million by the end of 2013. In addition there are now an estimated 4.25 million internally displaced persons inside Syria itself.

“International efforts to bring an end to the war in Syria must continue. Unfortunately there are few encouraging signs in the work being done to find a political solution to the conflict. This was emphasised in my talks with UN Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi. Nevertheless, our humanitarian efforts must continue unabated. The need for assistance is great both in and outside Syria,” Mr Eide said.

Foreign Minister Eide visited Jordan on Thursday together with UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, in connection with the celebration of World Refugee Day. During the visit, Mr Eide had talks with Prime Minister of Jordan Abdullah Ensour, among others. Mr Eide also visited refugees from Syria in the border area between Jordan and Syria.

“In my talks in Jordan today, I have praised the Jordanian authorities for the help they have provided to Syrian refugees. At the same time it is crucial that help reaches all refugees and not only those living in refugee camps. It is also vital that the Jordanian authorities, together with the UN and other aid organisations, ensure the necessary level of security,” Mr Eide said.

Due to the situation in and around Syria, the UN has launched its largest ever emergency appeal. The Government has decided to contribute NOK 150 million to the appeal. This total will be made up of the extraordinary allocation of NOK 100 million made in May and the entire reserve of NOK 50 million of the Foreign Ministry’s humanitarian budget.

“In our talks, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees emphasised just how extensive the refugee crisis is, and the huge need for aid that is still unmet. It is vital that the international community now assists Jordan and other neighbouring countries in dealing with the flow of refugees from Syria. The UN plays an important coordinating role here,” Mr Eide said.

Including this most recent contribution, Norway has allocated a total of NOK 360 million to the crisis in Syria in 2013, and a total of NOK 575 million since the conflict started in spring 2011. The Government allocated NOK 210 million to UN humanitarian appeals for Syria in the first half of 2013.

 

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