International Criminal Court says no to suspension of reparations process in Jean-Pierre Bemba Case

Convicted Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo received a huge setback recently when the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court on May 5, 2017 rejected his appeal which urged the Court not to continue with reparation proceedings till his pending appeal was decided.  In the case of the Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, decision on the defence’s request to suspend the reparations proceedings, the Court observed that Article 75 of the Rome Statute gives the Chamber the power to make a reparations order against any convicted person.

Post the conviction and the order on sentence, in July 2016 the Chamber made an order requesting submissions relevant to reparations and in October 2016 the Prosecution, Defence, Legal Representative of Victims (LRV), Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV), Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) and the Registry filed their observations on reparations. Finally in February 2017, the Chamber issued an order inviting submissions on experts to assist the Chamber in its determinations on reparations.

The defence team of Bemba Gombo urged the Chamber to refrain from instructing expert witnesses and to suspend the reparations process at the latest after the selection of any expert(s) and the finalisation of any letter of instruction as it argued that it was inconsistent with the rights of the accused as it operated as an effective presumption of guilt and also placed a heavy burden on the defence’s resources. It argued that even in the Katanga case, the reparation proceedings started only after the withdrawal of the appeals when the LRVs asked the Chamber to set a schedule for filing observations on the principles for reparations in August 2014, two months after the parties had withdrawn their appeal.

It further argued that as reparation orders were intrinsically linked to the individual whose criminal responsibility was established in a conviction and whose culpability for these criminal acts was determined in a sentence and that an accused should not have to remedy harms that are not the result of the crimes for which he was convicted, continuing with the reparations process whilst there was an extant live appeal against conviction was inappropriate.

But the Chamber refused holding that the Appeals Chamber in Prosecutor v Lubanga (Judgment on the appeals against the “Decision establishing the principles and procedures to be applied to reparations”) had identified five constitutive elements, which, at a minimum, must be contained in an order for reparations: 1) it must be directed against the convicted person; 2) it must establish and inform the convicted person of his or her liability with respect to the reparations awarded in the order; 3) it must specify, and provide reasons for, the type of reparations ordered, either collective, individual or both; 4) it must define the harm caused to direct and indirect victims as a result of the crimes for which the person was convicted, as well as identify the modalities of reparations that the Trial Chamber considers appropriate based on the circumstances of the specific case before it; and 5) it must identify the victims eligible to benefit from the awards for reparations or set out the criteria of eligibility based on the link between the harm suffered by the victims and the crimes for which the person was convicted. For addressing these elements the Chamber needed to take a number of preparatory steps. Also the legal texts of the Court contemplated that reparation proceedings may commence in parallel to a pending appeal. Referring to the established practice that preparatory steps to facilitate and expedite the reparations proceedings are launched following a conviction, it held that the issuance of a reparations order is not prejudicial to the rights of the convicted person irrespective of whether there is an appeal against the conviction decision.

The Chamber further observed that in the present proceedings reparations were only at a preliminary stage. Finally Article 64(3)(a) of the Rome Statute gave the Trial Chamber the power to suspend the proceedings if this was necessary to facilitate the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings. But suspending the reparations case would in fact be fatal to the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings.  It held that the suspension of all reparations proceedings until after the Appeals Chamber had rendered its decision would substantially impact the victims’ interests to access reparations in a timely manner. Thus the Court disallowed the relief sought by Bemba Gombo.

“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer” – Donald Trump sweeps to power in shock election win, revives hope for achhe din for aam Americans.

Donald Trump has won the US presidential election in a surprise victory that has shocked the poll pundits around the world. Trump’s populist, protectionist rhetoric has helped him win the presidency. The agony of the white working middle class has finally led to Trump’s way to the Oval office. The blue-collared whites have seen squeezing living standards and rising inequalities. Globalisation resulted in massive movements of capital around the world, but in the process created a majority of Americans being relegated to a stricken middle class. Trump has been successful in consolidating this massive chunk of voters, finally culminating in his win.

Trump has been very aggressive in his policies. He wants to brand China a currency manipulator which can even trigger a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies. He has also promised to renegotiate NAFTA. Trump has openly criticised the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has not yet been ratified. He wants to negotiate fair trade deals so as to create American jobs, increase wages, and reduce the trade deficit. He has consistently attacked Hillary Clinton as the person who supported NAFTA. He has also opposed Hillary’s support to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, and allowing China to run up $1 trillion in cumulative trade deficits with the United States.

Trump has promised to prioritize the jobs, wages, security of the American people and establish new immigration controls to boost wages and to ensure that open jobs are offered to American workers first. He has even declared to protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living in the States by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions. He professes to introduce an ‘America’s Infrastructure First’ policy.  Investments in transportation, clean water, a modern and reliable electricity grid, telecommunications, security infrastructure, and others will be his top priority. Trump has promised to create millions of new jobs in construction, steel manufacturing, and other sectors. Highlighting on the need of infrastructure investment, he has argued that such investment will make America more competitive, create jobs, increase wages for American workers, and will reduce the costs of goods and services for American consumers.

On eliminating terrorism, Trump promises to pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expand intelligence sharing, and cyber warfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. On the issue of indicting Clinton, Trump has alleged that Clinton lied to the Americans regarding the use of her private email server set up in the basement of her home while serving as Secretary of State. She had allegedly sent classified information jeopardizing the national security of America by allowing her emails to be hacked by foreign intelligence services. FBI Director James Comey’s statement that Clinton was extremely careless in handling very sensitive, highly classified information but was not criminally liable has also been criticised by the Trump camp. He has continuously targeted Hillary as the one who has been responsible for sending American jobs overseas which has led to rebuilding of foreign countries at America’s expense.

Trump rightly exhorted in his victory speech “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential.” A gargantuan challenge lies ahead for Trump.

The last internecine guerrilla carnage in Latin America: Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos joins a long list of Kissinger, Roosevelt, Chamberlain, Arafat, Sadat, Ramos-Horta.

The Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for pursuing a deal to end 52 years of conflict with the FARC, even though the peace deal was shockingly voted down in a referendum. The FARC is the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which is a left rebel group that since 1964 has continuously waged a war against the Colombian government. This war has claimed over 220,000 lives and internally displaced more than 6 million people. The deal came after four years of negotiations in Cuba between government and rebel negotiators. The historic signing was from a pen made from a bullet to sign the peace deal. Dignitaries attending the ceremony included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Cuban President Raul Castro and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Santos and the leader of the FARC, Rodrigo Londoño, also known as Timochenko, were both considered contenders for the prize after signing the peace deal last month to end 52 years of war. Santos beat competition from various organizations and individuals including the Syrian White Helmets, whistle-blower Edward Snowden, Angela Merkel, Pope Francis and doctor Denis Mukwege.

The Nobel Committee has always recognised the contributions of leaders who have put serious efforts to bring peace through negotiated settlements. For the efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese war, President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906. Again Sir Austen Chamberlain, Aristide Briand, Gustav Stresemann and Charles Dawes were awarded the Nobel Prize for the Locarno peace deal between France and Germany. African American Ralph Johnson Bunche was honoured with the award in 1950 for successful negotiation which bought an end to the Arab-Israeli war. For the Oslo Peace Accords Shimon Peres, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin won the prize in 1994. Le Duc Tho and American diplomat Henry Kissinger won the award in 1973 for the ceasefire agreement between United States of America and Vietnamese Democratic Republic. Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat won the prize in 1978 for the Camp David Accord to bring peace between Egypt and Israel. In 1996, the Nobel Prize was awarded to Carlos Belo and Jose Ramos-Horta for bringing a peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor. John Hume and David Trimble won the prize in 1998 for the Good Friday Agreement to find a peaceful solution to the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Colombia has been dealing with insurgency for a long time. Reasons are not hard to fathom. The absence of state authority in rural areas, poverty, inequitable land distribution and widespread lawlessness have resulted in such an disturbed state of affairs. Under the now rejected 297-page peace agreement, the FARC’s fighters would have disarmed, handing over weapons to United Nations inspectors, and become a legal political party with ten guaranteed seats in the country’s Congress. But former President Alvaro Uribe who after coming to power in 2002 cracked down on the FARC is now leading the opposition to the peace deal. He is widely credited with having achieved the military gains that forced the FARC to the negotiating table. Uribe suggests that getting amnesty breaks the rule of law.

Awarding of Nobel Prize to President Juan Manuel Santos has revived hopes for the agreement with the FARC. Now renewed negotiations are underway and eventually a tweaked agreement may pass the plebiscite finally ending the continuing agony of the unfortunate Colombians.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 4 of 4)

On the status of features in the South China Sea, the Tribunal concluded that the following features include, or in their natural condition did include, rocks or sand cays that remain above water at high tide and were, accordingly, high-tide features: (a) Scarborough Shoal, (b) Cuarteron Reef, (c) Fiery Cross Reef, (d) Johnson Reef, (e) McKennan Reef, and (f) Gaven Reef (North). Also the following features are, or in their natural condition were, exposed at low tide and submerged at high tide and are, accordingly low-tide elevations: (a) Hughes Reef, (b) Gaven Reef (South), (c) Subi Reef, (d) Mischief Reef, (e) Second Thomas Shoal.

Scarborough Shoal, Johnson Reef, Cuarteron Reef, and Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef (North) and McKennan Reef contain, within the meaning of Article 121(1) of the Convention, naturally formed areas of land, surrounded by water, which are above water at high tide. However, under Article 121(3) of the Convention, the high-tide features at Scarborough Shoal are rocks that cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own and accordingly shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

The Tribunal further concluded that Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal were both low-tide elevations that generate no maritime zones of their own. The Tribunal also concluded that none of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands were capable of sustaining human habitation or an economic life of their own within the meaning of those terms in Article 121(3). All of the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands were therefore legally rocks for purposes of Article 121(3) and did not generate entitlements to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Thus there was no possible entitlement by China to any maritime zone in the area of either Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal. Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal were held located within 200 nautical miles of the Philippines’ coast on the island of Palawan and were located in an area that was not overlapped by the entitlements generated by any maritime feature claimed by China. Thus as between the Philippines and China, Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal form part of the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.

Thus no maritime feature claimed by China within 200 nautical miles of Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal constituted a fully entitled island for the purposes of Article 121 of the Convention and therefore that no maritime feature claimed by China within 200 nautical miles of Mischief Reef or Second Thomas Shoal had the capacity to generate an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 3 of 4)

On the China’s claim of ‘nine-dash line’ to support its case, the tribunal observed that it first appeared on an official Chinese map in 1948 when the Ministry of the Interior of the then Republican Government of China published a “Map Showing the Location of the Various Islands in the South Sea”. A similar line had also appeared in privately produced cartography as early as 1933. In the original form, the map featured 11 dashes. The two dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin were removed in 1953, rendering it a ‘nine-dash line’, and the line appeared consistently in that nine-dash form in official Chinese cartography since that date. The length and precise placement of individual dashes, however, do not appear to be entirely consistent among different official depictions of the line.

Also in 2009, China sent two Notes Verbales to the UN Secretary-General in response to Malaysia and Vietnam’s Joint Submission of the preceding day to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) wherein China stated that it has indisputable sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, and enjoys sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the relevant waters as well as the seabed and subsoil thereof. The above position was consistently held by the Chinese Government, and is widely known by the international community. Appended to China’s notes was a map depicting the same ‘nine-dash line’.

The Tribunal held that on the basis of China’s conduct, China claims rights to the living and non-living resources within the ‘nine-dash line’, but (apart from the territorial sea  generated by any islands) does not consider that those waters form part of its territorial sea or internal waters.

Also as between the Philippines and China, the Convention defines the scope of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, which may not extend beyond the limits imposed therein. The Tribunal concluded that, as between the Philippines and China, China’s claims to historic rights, or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction, with respect to the maritime areas of the South China Sea encompassed by the relevant part of the ‘nine-dash line’ were held contrary to the Convention and without lawful effect to the extent that they exceed the geographic and substantive limits of China’s maritime entitlements under the Convention. The Tribunal concluded that the Convention superseded any historic rights or other sovereign rights or jurisdiction in excess of the limits imposed therein.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 2 of 4)

The Arbitral Tribunal had earlier issued its unanimous award on the jurisdiction issue. According to Article 288(4) of the Convention, in the event of a dispute as to whether a court or tribunal has jurisdiction, the matter has to be settled by decision of that court or tribunal. Also Article 9 of Annex VII to the Convention requires that where a Party does not appear before the Tribunal, the arbitral tribunal must satisfy itself not only that it has jurisdiction over the dispute but also that the claim is well founded in fact as well as in law. It held that Philippines and China were parties to the Convention and that the provisions for the settlement of disputes, including through arbitration, formed an integral part of it.  Although the Convention specifies certain limitations and exceptions to the subject matter of the disputes that may be submitted to compulsory settlement, it does not permit other reservations, and a State may not except itself generally from the Convention’s mechanism for the resolution of disputes. The Tribunal also rejected the claim of China alleging abuse of the Convention holding that mere act of unilaterally initiating arbitration in itself cannot constitute an abuse of the Convention.

China contended that the Parties’ dispute is actually about sovereignty over the islands of the South China Sea and therefore not a matter concerning the Convention. It also contended that the Parties’ dispute was actually about the delimitation of the maritime boundary between them and therefore excluded from dispute settlement by an exception set out in the Convention that States may activate by declaration.  China contended that it had already activated the exception for disputes concerning sea boundary delimitations when it made a declaration in 2006.

The Tribunal observed that though there was a dispute between the Parties regarding sovereignty over islands, but yet the matters submitted to arbitration by the Philippines did not concern sovereignty. On the second issue the Tribunal observed that a dispute concerning whether a State possesses an entitlement to a maritime zone is a distinct matter from the delimitation of maritime zones in an area in which they overlap.  While a wide variety of issues are commonly considered in the course of delimiting a maritime boundary, it does not follow that a dispute over each of these issues is necessarily a dispute over boundary delimitation.  Accordingly, the Tribunal held that the claims presented by the Philippines do not concern sea boundary delimitation and are not, therefore, subject to the exception to the dispute settlement provisions of the Convention.

The Tribunal thus held that China’s non-appearance in the proceedings did not deprive the Tribunal of jurisdiction and Philippines’ act of initiating this arbitration did not constitute an abuse of process. It also found that the 2002 China–ASEAN Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea, the joint statements of the Parties, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, did not preclude recourse to the compulsory dispute settlement procedures available the Convention.

The curious case of Itu Aba and Spratly Islands: Epochal ruling by an International Court (Permanent Court of Arbitration) on South China Sea dispute under UNCLOS (Philippines v. China) (Part 1 of 4)

On July 12, a five-judge tribunal in Hague delivered a landmark award on maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. The arbitration concerned disputes between Philippines and China regarding the legal basis of maritime rights and entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of certain geographic features in the South China Sea, and the lawfulness of certain actions taken by China in the South China Sea.

Both Philippines and China are parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Convention or UNCLOS). It has even been ratified by 168 parties. The Convention was adopted in order to settle all issues relating to the law of the sea. But the Convention does not address the sovereignty of States over land territory. Also it does contain provisions concerning the delimitation of maritime boundaries. The Convention includes a system for the peaceful settlement of disputes which is set out in Part XV of the Convention, which provides for a variety of dispute settlement procedures, including compulsory arbitration in accordance with a procedure contained in Annex VII to the Convention. It was pursuant to Part XV of and Annex VII to the Convention that the Philippines commenced the arbitration against China in 2013. China had made a declaration in 2006 to exclude maritime boundary delimitation from its acceptance of compulsory dispute settlement, which the Convention expressly permitted for maritime boundaries. The Tribunal thus refrained from delimiting any maritime boundary between the Parties or involving any other State bordering on the South China Sea.

Primarily Philippines sought to resolve a dispute concerning the source of maritime rights and entitlements in the South China Sea. Philippines sought a declaration from the Tribunal that China’s rights and entitlements in the South China Sea must be based on the Convention and not on any claim to historic rights as claimed by China. It further sought a declaration that China’s claim to rights within the ‘nine-dash line’ marked on Chinese maps were without any lawful effect. It further asked the Tribunal to resolve a dispute concerning the entitlements to maritime zones that would be generated under the Convention by Scarborough Shoal and certain maritime features in the Spratly Islands that were claimed by both the Philippines and China. The Spratly Islands is a constellation of small islands and coral reefs in the southern portion of the South China Sea.  It is the site of longstanding territorial disputes among various of the littoral States of the South China Sea. Considered as a risk to navigation, it is identified on nautical charts as the “dangerous ground”!

The Convention provide that submerged banks and low-tide elevations are incapable on their own of generating any entitlements to maritime areas and that rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own do not generate an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles or even to a continental shelf. Philippines sought a declaration that all of the features claimed by China in the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, fall within one or the other of these categories and that none of these features generates an entitlement to an exclusive economic zone or to a continental shelf.

Though China did not participate in the proceedings, yet in its Position Paper China argued that the Tribunal lacked jurisdiction because the essence of the subject-matter of the arbitration is the territorial sovereignty over the relevant maritime features in the South China Sea and China and the Philippines had agreed, through bilateral instruments and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to settle their relevant disputes through negotiations. It further stated that the disputes submitted by the Philippines would constitute an integral part of maritime delimitation between the two countries.  In the international sphere, China has taken the position that it has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and the adjacent waters. China’s sovereignty and relevant rights in the South China Sea, formed in the long historical course have been reaffirmed by China’s domestic laws on many occasions and protected under international law including the Convention. China has further taken the stand that in the issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests it will never accept any solution imposed on it or any unilateral resort to a third-party dispute settlement since as a sovereign state and a State Party to the Convention it is entitled to choose the means and procedures of dispute settlement of its own will. As per China, since the 1990s China and Philippines have repeatedly reaffirmed in bilateral documents that they shall resolve relevant disputes through negotiations and consultations. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea explicitly states that the sovereign states directly concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means through friendly consultations and negotiations.

‘Universal Jurisdiction’ enters African continent: The landmark verdict of the Extraordinary African Chambers (Senegal) in the Hissène Habré “Africa’s Pinochet” case.

After a long and tortuous wait for more than 25 long years, justice has been finally delivered to tens of thousands of victims of Hissène Habré. The case moved from domestic to regional to International Court of Justice and was finally decided by an African court formed specially for this trial, the Extraordinary African Chambers, with its seat in Dakar, the capital city of Senegal on May 30, 2016. Hissène Habré was President of the Republic of Chad from 1982 to 1990 when he was deposed by Idriss Déby Itno. Habré has been living in exile in Senegal ever since. Habré was first indicted by a Senegalese judge in 2000 when a group of Chadian victims filed a complaint against Habré in Senegal. But the appellate courts dismissed the case on the ground that Senegalese courts lacked competence to try crimes committed abroad.

Some Habré victims who were Belgian citizens of Chadian origin, then filed a case against Habré in Belgium in 2000. The Belgian authorities investigated the case for four years and in 2005 the Belgian investigating judge issued an international warrant in absentia for the arrest of Habré, indicted as the perpetrator or co-perpetrator, of serious violations of international humanitarian law, torture, genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, on the basis of which Belgium requested the extradition of Habré from Senegal. But in November 2005, the Chambre d’accusation of the Dakar Court of Appeal ruled against Belgium’s extradition request, holding that as a court of ordinary law it could not extend its jurisdiction to matters relating to the investigation or prosecution of a Head of State for acts allegedly committed in the exercise of his functions.

In July 2006, the African Union called on Senegal to prosecute Habré on behalf of Africa before its own courts. Senegalese law was amended to give the country’s courts explicit universal jurisdiction over international crimes, including torture and crimes against humanity. Then the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ruled that Habré should be tried before a “special ad hoc procedure of an international character.” But Senegal again withdrew from the negotiations.

Then Belgium bought the matter before the International Court of Justice which found that the Republic of Senegal, by failing to make immediately a preliminary inquiry into the facts relating to the crimes allegedly committed by Habré and also by failing to submit the case of Habré to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, had breached its obligation under the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It thus held that the Republic of Senegal must, without further delay, submit the case of Habré to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution, if it does not extradite him. The new Senegalese government of Macky Sall (after the ouster of the Abdoulaye Wade who was considered as shielding  Habré from prosecution) reacted quickly to the ICJ judgment and negotiations resumed between Senegal and the AU which lead to an agreement to create the Extraordinary African Chambers to conduct proceedings within the Senegalese judicial system. The Extraordinary Chambers were then instituted in Dakar.

The process before the Extraordinary African Chambers was governed by its own Statute and the Senegalese Code of Criminal Procedure. The chambers have four levels. It consists of an Investigative Chamber with four Senegalese investigative judges, an Indicting Chamber of three Senegalese judges, a Trial Chamber, and an Appeals Chamber. The Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber each have two Senegalese judges and a president from another African Union member state.

On 16 February 2015, the Court charged Habré with the crimes of torture, homicide, executions, illegal detention, breach of physical integrity, torture, and abduction of civilians. There were various allegations including the repression of political opponents, the population in the the south, the Hagarai, and the Zagawa. After Habré took power, he began to undertake mass arrests. Initially, these were carried out against political opponents but later any Chadian citizen suspected of being part of the opposition was arrested. A 1992 Chadian Truth Commission accused Habré’s government of systematic torture and said that 40,000 people died during his rule. Most abuses were carried out by his political police, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS). This included extrajudicial arrests and interrogations conducted by the DDS and the BSIR, followed by incarceration in N’Djamena in DDS prisons where systematic torture was undertaken.

The Court held that there were attacks against the civil population in Chad constituting the crime of torture and crimes against humanity. Also women were forced to have sexual relationships with the DDS officers, prisons authorities, and soldiers of the BSIR which amounted to torture, rape, and crimes against humanity. There were also crimes against humanity for sexual slavery regarding the offenses in the camps. The Court thus found Habré guilty of the crimes against humanity of rape, forced slavery, murder, mass executions, kidnapping and disapearing, torture and the autonomous crime of torture. It further found him guilty of war crimes of murder, torture, inhuman treatments and illegal detention. He has been awarded life imprisonment. It is for the first time that an African Union backed court had tried and convicted a former ruler for human rights abuses.

Trump’s “Trumpism” trumps: The GOP nominee!

Donald Trump has edged out others and is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for President of the United States in the 2016 election. His political positions on various issues like illegal immigration, free trade agreements, H-1B visas, tax laws, rising crime and poverty have raised many eyebrows.

On illegal immigration from Mexico, Trump alleges that Mexico’s leaders have been taking advantage of the United States by using illegal immigration to export the crime and poverty in their own country. This has resulted in loss of hundreds of billions in healthcare costs, housing costs, education costs, welfare costs. He has proposed making a boundary wall and also Mexico should pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States should, among other things impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages, increase fees on all temporary visas issued to Mexican CEOs and diplomats, increase fees on all border crossing cards, increase fees on all NAFTA worker visas from Mexico and further increase fees at ports of entry to the United States from Mexico.

He has also heavily come against the Schumer-Rubio immigration bill as he sees it as nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run the political parties. Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first and not wealthy globetrotting donors. Those who come to the United States on temporary visas but refuse to leave will have to subjected to penalties as such people are threat to national security. Individuals who refuse to leave at the time their visa expires should be subject to criminal penalties as this will also help give local jurisdictions the power to hold visa overstays until federal authorities arrive. Alleging disastrous consequences of failed government policies, he rues that nearly 40% of black teenagers and nearly 30% of Hispanic teenagers are unemployed. For black Americans without high school diplomas, the bottom has fallen out as more than 70% were employed in 1960, compared to less than 40% in 2000.

Commenting on the unabated influx of foreign workers, he has criticised it as it holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans, including immigrants themselves and their children, to earn a middle class wage. Nearly half of all immigrants and their US-born children currently live in or near poverty, including more than 60 percent of Hispanic immigrants. Thus there is need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.

On the issue of H-1B visas, more than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. Again this will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.

Trump had supported the Project Exile where if a violent felon used a gun to commit a crime, he was prosecuted in federal court and was imprisoned for five years with no parole or early release. Trump has also criticised the Obama Administration decision of releasing 76,000 aliens from its custody with criminal convictions since 2013. He suggests that all criminal aliens must be returned to their home countries, a process which can be aided by cancelling any visas to foreign countries which will not accept their own criminals, and making it a separate and additional crime to commit an offense while here illegally.

On the tax front, Americans are now promised a simpler tax code with four brackets – 0%, 10%, 20% and 25%. The new tax code will eliminate the marriage penalty and the Alternative Minimum Tax while providing the lowest tax rate since before World War II. No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes. This lower rate will make corporate inversions unnecessary by making America’s tax rate one of the best in the world.

Trump alleges that America fully opened its markets to China but China did not reciprocate. Its Great Wall of Protectionism uses unlawful tariff and non-tariff barriers to keep American companies out of China and to tilt the playing field in their favour. Trump has threatened that America under his presidency will bring China to the bargaining table by immediately declaring it a currency manipulator. It will also protect American ingenuity and investment by forcing China to uphold intellectual property laws and stop their unfair and unlawful practice of forcing U.S. companies to share proprietary technology with Chinese competitors as a condition of entry to China’s market. It will also try to reclaim millions of American jobs and reviving American manufacturing by putting an end to China’s illegal export subsidies and lax labour and environmental standards.

Balkan route influx now to a trickle: EU-turkey deal paves way for visa free travel for Turks but raises concern in Europe.

New arrivals on the Greek islands now are down to less than a hundred than from an average 10,000 a day at the peak last October. Also the latest figures from Turkey’s Coast Guard show that the EU-Turkey deal is working, with the number of migrants intercepted at sea only 1,536 in April whereas 8,100 people were intercepted in March. This has led the European Commission to declare that Turkey has broadly met the criteria for early visa liberalization and would be asking EU governments and the European Parliament to approve the decision by the end of June. This will allow visa-free travel to Europe for millions of Turks, as a reward for having reduced a flood of refugees and migrants into Europe to a mere trickle.

On 18 March this year, following on from the EU-Turkey Joint Action Plan activated on 29 November 2015 and the 7 March EU-Turkey statement, the European Union and Turkey decided to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU. EU and Turkey have agreed that all new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey but in full accordance with EU and international law. The agreement stipulates that all such migrants will be protected in accordance with the relevant international standards and in respect of the principle of non-refoulement. As per the agreement, migrants arriving in the Greek islands will be duly registered and any application for asylum will be processed individually by the Greek authorities in accordance with the Asylum Procedures Directive, in cooperation with UNHCR but migrants not applying for asylum or whose application has been found unfounded or inadmissible in accordance with the said directive will be returned to Turkey. The agreement further stipulates that for every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria. A mechanism will be established, with the assistance of the Commission, EU agencies and other Member States, as well as the UNHCR, to ensure that this principle will be implemented as from the same day the returns start. Priority will be given to migrants who have not previously entered or tried to enter the EU irregularly.

As per the agreement, Turkey will take any necessary measures to prevent new sea or land routes for illegal migration opening from Turkey to the EU, and will cooperate with neighbouring states as well as the EU to this effect. Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU end or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated.

On the monetary aspect, the EU will further speed up the disbursement of the initially allocated three billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey and ensure funding of further projects for persons under temporary protection identified with swift input from Turkey before the end of March. A first list of concrete projects for refugees, notably in the field of health, education, infrastructure, food and other living costs, that can be swiftly financed from the Facility, will be jointly identified within a week. Once these resources are about to be used to the full, and provided the above commitments are met, the EU will mobilise additional funding for the Facility of an additional 3 billion euro up to the end of 2018. Also the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016. The EU and its Member States are further obligated to work with Turkey in joint endeavour to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria, in particular in certain areas near the Turkish border which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be more safe.

The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently warned that it would stop implementing the deal with the European Union on curbing the flow of refugees to Europe if the EU failed to fulfill its promises under the agreement. Now the EU hastily seems to fulfil its commitments under the deal so that Turkey does not renege from its commitments. But allowing of visa free travel to Turks have not gone down well with few European nations who are voicing their resentment quite openly. In the coming days it will be interesting to watch how the EU tackles the objections of the member states in fulfilling its commitments made to Turkey

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