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Global Justice Center Blog

Open Civil Society Letter To ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

Dear Madam Prosecutor,

As your term as prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) draws to a close, we are writing to thank you for your longstanding service and significant contributions to the ICC, as well as to acknowledge the progress that the Office of the Prosecutor has made during your tenure.

While civil society organizations have identified areas for improvement and will continue to advocate for changes to ensure effective investigations and prosecutions, the office has made considerable advances in a number of situations and preliminary examinations under your leadership.

We especially admire the high degree of independence you have exhibited during your mandate. Your office has opened investigations in the face of immense pressure and politicized opposition. You have done this work at great personal and institutional cost. Developments on the ground in Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Palestine over the last few months have confirmed that accountability in those and other situations is essential, especially when the ICC is the only remaining option for justice. We will call on the next prosecutor to build on this legacy and continue to ensure that the court fulfils its mandate, regardless of the nationality or position of alleged perpetrators.

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Submission UN Special Rapporteur on Abortion Restrictions During COVID-19

The following is responding specifically to question 2(a) concerning measures introduced during the pandemic aiming at recognizing, restricting, banning and/or criminalizing access to legal abortion.

The COVID-19 pandemic posed unprecedented challenges to access to sexual and reproductive health services. As states enacted their COVID-19 response plans in the early phase of the pandemic, GJC noted an uptick in focus on abortion in the United States and around the globe - resulting in a mix of outcomes, both positive and negative. The unevenness with which abortion was dealt with underscores the importance that access to safe abortion services be protected as a matter of human right, recognized by officials as essential medical care, and not subject to restrictions.

Global Increase of Restrictions on Abortion Access

A number of US states moved to limit abortion by classifying abortions that are not a medical emergency as non-essential medical services that must be canceled or deferred, and ordering providers to stop their performance. As a result, legal battles played out across these states. In Texas, the conflict first began after the government enacted an executive order banning abortions as “a nonessential medical procedure that must be suspended to conserve scarce medical equipment for doctors treating coronavirus patients.” The fight went back and forth between different courts, causing chaos, confusion and disruption for providers and patients. There were numerous stories of pregnant women trying to access clinics for their appointments only to find them closed, waiting in clinic parking lots for hours while being harassed by protestors, and traveling for hours across state lines to reach the nearest available clinic. A similar pattern emerged in other states across the US.

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Joint NGO Call for a UN Human Rights Council resolution on the ongoing human rights crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia

To Permanent Representatives of Member and Observer States of the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland)

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned human rights non-governmental organizations, strongly urge the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to adopt a resolution at its upcoming 47th session (HRC47) on the ongoing human rights crisis in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Over the last seven months an overwhelming number of reports have emerged of abuses and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law (IHL/IHRL) during the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. Reports by civil society organizations have detailed widespread massacres, violence against civilians and indiscriminate attacks across Tigray while preliminary analysis by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) indicates that all warring parties have committed abuses that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. There is now ample evidence that atrocities continue to be committed, notably by the Ethiopian National Defense Forces, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Eritrean Defense Forces, and Amhara regional special police and affiliated Fano militias. These include indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, widespread and mass extrajudicial executions, rape and other sexual violence, forced displacement, arbitrary detentions, including of displaced persons, widespread destruction and pillage of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, factories and businesses, and the destruction of refugee camps, crops and livestock.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Sexual Violence in Conflict has repeatedly expressed alarm over the widespread and systematic commission of rape and sexual violence in Tigray. On 21 April she stated that women and girls in Tigray are being subjected to sexual violence “with a cruelty that is beyond comprehension,” including gang rape by men in uniform, targeted sexual attacks on young girls and pregnant women, and family members forced to witness these horrific abuses. The SRSG also stated that these reports, coupled with assessments by healthcare providers in the region, indicate that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war.

Download the Full Letter 

Gendering the Uyghur Genocide

Description:

In March, Newlines published its groundbreaking Uyghur Genocide Report that found China in breach of the 1948 Genocide Convention. While parliaments, policymakers, and world leaders have been debating this issue, many conversations are missing the critical element of a gendered analysis of genocide. Our panel of gender and legal experts will discuss how genocide is a gendered crime, examine the genocide being perpetrated against the Uyghurs, and weigh in on how the U.S. and other countries can hold China accountable.

In March, Newlines published its groundbreaking Uyghur Genocide Report that found China in breach of the 1948 Genocide Convention. While parliaments, policymakers, and world leaders have been debating this issue, many conversations are missing the critical element of a gendered analysis of genocide. Our panel of gender and legal experts will discuss how genocide is a gendered crime, examine the genocide being perpetrated against the Uyghurs, and weigh in on how the U.S. and other countries can hold China accountable.

Participants:

  • Emily Prey (Moderator), Senior Analyst, Newlines Institute
  • Grant Shubin, Legal Director, Global Justice Center
  • Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Director, International Bar Association Human Rights Institute

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President Biden Releases Budget That Removes Hyde Amendment, Leaves Other Abortion Restrictions in Place

NEW YORK — In his first presidential budget released today, President Biden removed the Hyde Amendment, but left in place several other restrictions on abortion funding, including the Helms Amendment.

The Helms Amendment has prohibited any U.S. foreign aid from going to abortion services since 1973. Among other anti-abortion policies included in the budget, the president also left in place the Siljander Amendment, which prevents the use of US funds to lobby for or against abortion.

Elena Sarver, legal advisor with the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“The president is right to remove the Hyde Amendment from his budget, but the Helms Amendment and Hyde are two sides of the same coin. Both restrict access to abortion care in violation of international law. Both have been recognized by the international community as violations of human rights. There is simply no reason to protect the rights of pregnant people here in the US, but deny them to pregnant people around the world.

“At the United Nations and other international venues, the Biden administration continues to say it is a champion of sexual and reproductive rights. But the inclusion of illegal and destructive abortion funding restrictions like Helms shows this is mere rhetoric rather than a true commitment. Combine this failure with their refusal to utter the word ‘abortion,’ this administration has a lot of work to do before it can truly claim to be a champion of reproductive rights.”