Justice Update – Lunch at the ASP

Nasrina Bargzie speaking at ACLU of Northern CA.

Afghanistan is looming. This week – while the International Criminal Court (ICC) is holding its annual meeting, the Appeals Chamber will hear efforts to overturn a ruling rejecting the prosecutor’s request to open an investigation into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Afghanistan.

There’s a lot of interest! Lots of victims groups, international lawyers, even the US president’s own lawyer, are getting the chance to tell the court why that decision was right or wrong (and most are saying it’s wrong).

Back in April judges acknowledged that crimes had been committed, by the Taliban, by Afghan forces, and by United States military and Central Intelligence Agency personnel. The judges agreed that there were no investigations or prosecutions of those allegedly most responsible and that victims wanted an investigation. But they said that an investigation at this stage “would not serve the interests of justice”.

Stephanie and Janet talk about the background of the decision and what the different parties are likely to argue. They also hear from American-Afghan lawyer Nasrina Bargzie who is due to appear in court and is speaking at Janet’s event The Politics of Peace on how ICC intervention impacts accountability in countries like Afghanistan that fail to provide justice to victims organised among others by the Transitional Justice Coordination Group – Afghanistan

In this week at the ASP we are publishing a lot of content, notably the Justice Update: Breakfast at the ASP, in which we discuss the session organised by Africa Legal Aid on what lessons can be learned from the collapse of the trial of Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and his supporter Charles Blé Goudé. In this episode we also briefly discuss some interesting points raised in the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice’s session on The Hague principles sexual violence and the move to make the legal terminology for ‘sexual violence’ more victim-centric and really help practitioners understand what makes violence ‘sexual’. Listen to that update here:

The day before the kick off of the ASP we sat down with with Liz Evenson from Human Rights WatchAmal Nassar from FIDH and Alix Vuillemin Grendel from Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, to discuss what we might expect at this year’s ASP. Of course there will be the annual wrangling about the budget and the upcoming independent review, but the positioning of candidates for the next ICC prosecutor after Fatou Bensouda leaves is also a hot topic. We discussed some of that in our episode with chair of the search committee for the next prosector and former Canadian ambassador Sabine Nolke in Maple Leaf Diplomacy. Check out our episode with our three NGO representatives here:

When we interviewed the lovely Kevin John Heller in Episode 7: Justice via the backdoor about justice for Myanmar, Stephanie asked him whether he thought that the decision where the ICC judges refused to open a formal investigation into the crimes committed in Afghanistan, because “it was unlikely that they would ever have a meaningful investigation or cooperation”, could influence the decision of what happens to the Myanmar case. Kevin said that with a pre-trial chamber at large, saying that they “can’t investigate Afghanistan, because there’s no prospect of investigation, but can investigate Myanmar, even though there’s probably even less of a chance of investigation”, is problematic and wrong for many reasons. More on that in this episode:

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