The Peace and Justice Update is published by interns at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice. The views expressed in the Update are not necessarily those of the IPJ or of USD. To subscribe, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Subscribe" in the subject line. Click here for source information.
Judge Resigns in Kenya ICC Trials
International Criminal Court (ICC) Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert resigned April 27, 2013 from hearing the crimes-against-humanity cases against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy President William Ruto. The reason given for her resignation, an already heavy workload, contradicted speculation that Van den Wyngaert’s move was precipitated by the prosecution’s conduct in handling the Kenyan cases.
Judge Van den Wyngaert had criticized the prosecution for the introduction of post-confirmation witnesses and evidence. In an appeal to bring the trial back to pre-trial chambers, Kenyatta’s lawyers accused the prosecution for bringing up 26 new witnesses post-confirmation, after having dropped seven out of the 12 witnesses presented during the confirmation hearings.
This led to a statement by Judge Van den Wyngaert: “There are serious questions as to whether the prosecution conducted a full and thorough investigation of the case against the accused prior to confirmation. I believe that the facts show that the prosecution had not complied with its obligations at the time when it sought confirmation and that it was still not even remotely ready when the proceedings before this Chamber started.” In addition, Judge Van den Wyngaert denounced the prosecution’s failure to produce an affidavit to verify the credibility of Witness Four during the pre-confirmation hearings. Kenyatta’s lawyers have asked to have Kenyatta’s name dropped from the case, as was Francis Muthaura, one of the four originally charged by the ICC, based on inconsistencies in Witness Four’s testimony .
Despite the missing affidavit of Witness Four, Judge Van den Wyngaert and two other judges have ruled that it would not have impacted the confirmation decision on the charges against Kenyatta. The judges deemed that Kenyatta’s lawyers’ appeals and the new evidentiary developments presented by the prosecution were not sufficient to “invalidate the confirmation decision and render a fair trial impossible”.
While rejecting the defense’s attempts to have charges against Kenyatta dismissed, the judges also had a warning for the prosecution, stating "The appropriate remedy is for the chamber to reprimand the prosecution for its conduct and to require it to conduct a complete review of its case file and certify before this chamber that it has done so in order to ensure that no other materials in its possession that ought to have been disclosed to the Defense, are left undisclosed.”
Because of the volume of new evidence presented by the prosecution, the judges agreed to give more time for the defense to prepare for trial. The ICC has announced that Judge Robert Fremr will replace Judge Van den Wyngaert.
By Meliza Trimidal. Please send comments to email@example.com.
South Sudanese Rebels Surrender to the Government
In South Sudan's Unity state, government official Joseph Arop Malual announced that rebel groups, most notably the South Sudan Liberation Movement (SSLM), have surrendered and given up their arms to the government.
According to Reuters, approximately 3,000 rebels crossed the border from Sudan with about 100 vehicles, including 37 trucks mounted with machine guns and anti-craft guns, which they surrendered to the government. There are plans for the rebel leaders to meet with government officials in Khartoum and to integrate the SSLM fighters into the South Sudanese army.
Formed in the 1990's, the SSLM was one of the largest rebel groups in the region, switching sides several times during the conflict between north and south. In the conflict with South Sudan, the SSLM said they were fighting against corruption, underdevelopment, and the domination of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in government.
The mass surrender came after South Sudan's President Kiir re-announced on Friday April 26, 2013 that rebels would be granted amnesty if they gave up their weapons and surrendered. A self-identified spokesperson for the South Sudan Defense Forces (SSDF), a coalition of the SSLM and South Sudan Democratic Movement (SSDM), stated the reason for the surrender was "because South Sudan needs development, peace, and forgiveness."
Col. Peter Kobrin Konyi, a spokesperson for the SSDM, has clarified that only the SSLM have accepted amnesty. Konyi noted that past experiences with rebel leaders at the hands of the South Sudanese government illustrates why such promises of amnesty should be taken "with a grain of salt."
According to a South Sudanese army spokesperson, the surrender of rebels has been seen as a sign that real progress is being made in improved relations between Sudan and South Sudan. President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan visited Juba in South Sudan last month, promising to normalize relations between the two states.
Sudan and South Sudan have accused each other of supporting rebel groups in the other’s country. President Kiir, however, announced in March 2013 that the South Sudanese government would disengage with the SPLM-N, a rebel group in Sudan. Another sign of improved relations is the resumption of oil production and export through Sudan, starting in April 2013 after a 15-month halt in production over tensions about the border and pipeline transportation fees.
By Jennifer Pampolina. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Talks between Sudan and SPLM-N Rebels Begin
Talks began April 23, 2013 in Addis Ababa between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) about conflict in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. The talks took place under the auspices of the African Union's High Level of Implementation Panel (AUHIP), chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki. Negotiating teams on both sides held separate consultation meetings with the AU mediation team to prepare the agenda of negotiations for a political solution to the conflict in the two states.
The talks adjourned without much success in bridging the wide gap between the two sides. One of the main issues is the scope of the negotiations. The SPLM-N wants talks to set up a national framework as in the June 28, 2011 agreement which provides for a more inclusive constitutional process. The June 28, 2012 agreement was denounced by President Omar al- Bashir, however, under pressure from the army over the frameworks’ call to establish political partnerships with the rebels. Sudanese officials said they were willing to negotiate a solution for the conflict in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile but refused to include any national agendas in the talks.
The SPLM-N has stressed the desire for a comprehensive solution leading to democratic transformation and warned Khartoum that rejecting such an approach would further unite the opponents behind toppling the regime. The SPLM-N has been in an alliance with Darfur rebel movements under the name Sudan Revolutionary Force (SRF) since November 2011.
There is an agreement with rebel allies and opposition parties in the government to bring political change to Sudan in January of this year if an acceptable solution is not found. This commitment to bring about political change and topple the Bashir regime is outlined in the New Dawn Charter signed by the SRF in January 2013.
During the negotiations the two sides engaged directly with each other and exchanged views on their positions before being presented with a draft of Common Interests as a roadmap for resolution of the conflict. The parties also met bilaterally. Both parties have agreed to consult their parties and continue the talks in June 2013 in Addis Ababa.