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GJC in the News

The International Criminal Court Still Has Work to Do on Gender-Based Crimes

Excerpt of Ms. Magazine op-ed from GJC Staff Attorney Danielle Hites.

The International Criminal Court recently convicted Dominic Ongwen, a former commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Notably, this was both the first conviction for forced pregnancy in the court’s history and only the second standing conviction for any sexual and gender-based crimes. While the case establishes a roadmap for the incoming prosecutor of the court to effectively charge and prosecute sexual and gender-based crimes, it also reinforces the unduly burdensome standards applied to reproductive violence.

Ongwen’s case involves the systemic abduction of girls and young women in Northern Uganda, who were awarded like chattel to LRA soldiers. In addition to forced pregnancy, the court charged Ongwen with rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, enslavement, torture and outrages on personal dignity. Critically, it charged forced pregnancy as a crime against humanity and rape as a war crime.

In the nearly 20 years since the International Criminal Court was established, violence targeting individuals for their perceived responsibility for reproduction—typically cisgender women and girls—has been an integral tool in nearly every mass atrocity. The absence of charges, prosecutions, and convictions for these gender-based crimes up until this point demonstrates the need for greater gender expertise at all stages of cases.

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What Myanmar's coup means for the future of Rohingya Muslims

Excerpt of The New Arab article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

For now, UN-backed efforts to repatriate Rohingya refugees back to Myanmar have stalled, with rights groups forewarning an increased danger for them.

"A necessary condition for safe and voluntary return has been holding the military accountable," says Akila Radhakrishnan, president of international human rights organisation Global Justice Center.

"Senior General Min Aung Hlaing - one of the main architects of the genocide against the Rohingya - is now in power, so I think it's really hard to imagine how there can be any safe repatriation to Myanmar. A risk of atrocities is certainly heightened."

Radhakrishnan says the lack of accountability of the military throughout more than 50 years of rule is to blame for the fragility of the country's democracy.

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Myanmar coup: How will the military takeover affect Rohingya genocide trial?

Excerpt of The Independent article that quotes GJC Legal Director Grant Shubin.

While experts believe the coup d’état will have little effect on the outcome of the trial itself, it could significantly change how Myanmar responds to proceedings at the UN’s highest court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands.

“From the court’s perspective, nothing changes,” Grant Shubin, legal director at the Global Justice Center, told The Independent. But he said the coup could change how the military government defends itself against the charge of genocide and affect how it is represented in The Hague.

Myanmar is accused of committing widespread and systematic atrocities against the Rohingya during a “clearance” campaign launched in August 2017, which thousands were killed and raped and more than 730,000 forced to flee to the world’s largest refugee camp across the border in Bangladesh.

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British Human Rights Lawyer to Be Next ICC Chief Prosecutor

Excerpt of Voice of America article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

The court was established in 1998 and began hearing cases in 2002, after 60 countries had ratified the Rome Statute. Today, 123 nations are members.

“We welcome the election of Karim Khan as the next ICC prosecutor and look forward to working with him to deliver justice to victims of international crimes, including survivors of sexual and gender-based violence,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “Prosecutor Bensouda has taken important steps to center a gender perspective and approach to the work of the prosecutor’s office, and we hope that Prosecutor Khan will continue to build on this legacy.”

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U.N. calls for democracy in Myanmar following military coup

Excerpt of UPI article that quotes GJC President Akila Radhakrishnan.

"This is not how the Security Council runs its day-to-day work, nor will it be conducive to the solidarity of and mutual trust between Security Council members," he said.

Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center, said the Security Council statement provided "some relief" following the negotiations but that it will be meaningful if not "followed by formal action."

"It is crucial the council listens to communities most at risk in Myanmar, who have been clear from the beginning that targeted sanctions on the military and military-owned companies, an arms embargo and efforts to hold the military accountable are the concrete actions that international community must take to address this emergency," Radhakrishnan said in a statement on Thursday.

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