FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 13, 2018
[New York] – The Global Justice Center (GJC) applauds the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the charging of Al-Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud for persecution on the grounds of gender. This potentially groundbreaking case could be the first time that the Court will consider the crime of gender-based persecution and has the potential to define the Court’s jurisprudence around gender.
In a statement following Al-Hassan’s arrest, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that, “Mr. Al-Hassan is allegedly responsible for the crimes against humanity of persecution on both religious and gender grounds; rape and sexual slavery committed in the context of forced marriages; torture and other inhuman acts intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” The inclusion of the crime of gender-based persecution in Al-Hassan’s case is a promising indication of Prosecutor Bensouda’s commitment to securing justice for sexual and gender-based crimes.
According to his arrest warrant, Al-Hassan was a member of Ansar Dine, one of several Islamic militant groups that seized control of Mali in 2012. As the de-facto chief of Islamic police in Timbuktu, Al-Hassan enforced a policy of forced marriages that “led to the repeated rapes and sexual enslavement of women and girls”. Under ICC pre-trial procedures, Al-Hassan will not be formally charged until a confirmation of charges hearing, which has been tentatively scheduled for September 24, 2018.
The ICC should continue this commitment to gender justice and open an investigation into the genocidal crimes Daesh is committing against Yazidi women and girls in Iraq and Syria. In December 2015, the Global Justice Center sent a brief to Prosecutor Bensouda calling on the ICC to investigate Daesh’s gender-based crimes including the systematic rape, torture, and enslavement of women and girls. As the international community begins the process of holding Daesh fighters accountable, it must provide justice for the victims targeted due to their gender.
The charges of persecution based on gender in the Al-Hassan case are an important first step in prosecuting the gender-based crimes that are a central tactic of extremist groups in conflicts around the world. “It is encouraging that the Court is looking beyond the narrow lens of counterterrorism to prosecute the real gendered crimes that often go hand in hand with violent extremism,” says Staff Attorney for the Global Justice Center, Grant Shubin. “When gender is at the heart of the crimes committed, gender must also be at the center of accountability.”
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