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CPIJ organizes a panel on the Rohingya at the 47th CCIL Conference

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31 October 2018 – The Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) hosts a panel at the 47th Annual Conference of the Canadian Council of International Law (CCIL). Titled “The Role of International Criminal Law and the ICC in Responding to the Alleged Crimes Perpetrated against the Rohingya”, this panel organized and financed by CPIJ will allow to discuss the different options available within the field of international criminal law to fight against impunity for crimes allegedly perpetrated against the Rohingya in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

The panel will be moderated by CPIJ Co-Director Fannie Lafontaine and will bring together Co-Researchers Payam Akhavam, professor at McGill University’s Faculty of Law, and Valerie Oosterveld, associate Dean and professor at the University of Western Ontario’s Faculty of Law, as well as Kyle Matthews, Executive Director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University. Prof. Akhavan will discuss the ICC Jurisdiction and the Rohingya Atrocities; Prof. Oosterveld the accountability for sexual and gender-based violence against the Rohingya; and Mr. Matthews will address the use of social media to dehumanize the Rohingya. The conference will take place at 4:00 pm on Thursday, November 1st.

Few other members of CPIJ will also present at the 47th CCIL Conference. Rob Currie and Joanna Harrington will be part of the panel “Extradition after Diab” at 9:05 am on Friday, November 2nd. They will analyze Canada’s place in the international landscape of extradition, as well as the nature and scope of the legal obligations involved and the need of reform notably in the light of the Diab case. Further, prof. Harrington will moderate the panel “Highlights of 2018 from the Canadian Yearbook of International Law”, which will take place at 8:00 am the same day.

The full program of the 47thCCIL Conference can be accessed online here.

CPIJ Co-Researcher Penelope Simons Receives the 2018 Walter S. Tarnopolsky Award

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CPIJ Co-Researcher Penelope Simons

26 October 2018 – CPIJ Co-Researcher Penelope Simons is the recipient of the 2018 Walter S. Tarnopolsky Award. The International Commission of Jurists, who awards this prize, thereby highlighted her “background and commitment as an individual who has made a significant contribution to human rights.”

The Tarnopolsky Award is named after the judge and renowned scholar Walter S. Tarnopolsky, who was a pioneer in the development of human rights and civil liberties in Canada. It is awarded annually to a Canadian resident who made an outstanding contribution to human rights at a national or international level.

Renowned expert in the field of corporate responsibility, Professor Simons fights tirelessly against corporate complicity in human rights violations. She does not hesitate to question the statu quoand pursue accountability for corporations and reparation for victims at the national and international level. Her innovative publications and constant promotion of access to justice for vulnerable persons make her a strong advocate in the field of international human rights law.

The award will be presented to Professor Simons at the conference “70 Years On… Is Humanity Ready for a World Court of Human Rights?” hosted at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) on October 31st. It is possible to register online for the event by sending an email to HRREC@uOttawa.ca.

CPIJ Co-Researcher Julia Grignon receives prestigious Paul Reuters Prize on International Humanitarian Law

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18 October 2018 – CPIJ Co-Researcher Julia Grignon received yesterday the prestigious Paul Reuters Prize on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). This award was granted to crown her doctoral thesis named “L’applicabilité temporelle du droit international humanitaire”, defended in 2012 and published in 2014.

CPIJ Co-Researcher Julia Grignon

The Paul Reuters Prize was created in 1983 through to a donation made by Paul Reuters, honorary professor at University of Paris, to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It is usually awarded every three years to recognize an outstanding work in the field of IHL.

Doctor of Laws from Geneva University, Prof. Grignon teaches at Laval University since 2013. She is the co-director of the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinicas well as a member and co-founder of the Interdisciplinary Research Center on Africa and the Middle-East. Further, she is member of the Jean-Pictet Competition Committee since 2008 and is editor and author of the book “Hommage à Jean Pictet par le Concours de droit international humanitaire Jean-Pictet”, published in 2016.

The Paul Reuters Award Ceremony will take place on October 24that the ICRC Humanitarium, in Geneva. The event will be followed by a conference named “Role of academia in promoting and developping IHL” and a reception. It is possible to attend the event by registering online here.

 

The ICC Prosecutor is opening a Preliminary Examination on the Rohingya situation

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19 September 2018 – On Monday, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it will open a preliminary examination concerning the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. This examination is the first step towards a proper investigation, which will take place if the examination shows reasonable basis to proceed accordingly.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague

The question of the Court’s jurisdiction on the Rohingya situation was the subject of a debate, as while Bangladesh is a State Party to the ICC, Myanmar is not. Given the cross-border nature of the crime of deportation, the Court was confronted to a new jurisdictional dilemma. For the very first time, the Prosecutor thus made use of Article 19(3) of the Rome Statute to seek a ruling on jurisdiction, and the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ), along with other expert organizations, was invited to present Amici Curiae observations to the Court on that matter. On September 6, the ICC rendered a judgement in line with CPIJ’s observations: it ruled that the court has jurisdiction “over the crime the Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people” because “an element of this crime (the crossing of the border) took place on the territory of a State party to the Statute.

The Partnership warmly welcomes this decision from the ICC Prosecutor to move forward with a preliminary examination, which constitutes an important step forward the realization of a justice for the Rohingya. In addition, PCJI also considers that Canada can and should play an important role in the achievement of this justice, as explained in an op-ed published on Monday co-authored by Amanda Ghahremani, Mark Kersten and Fannie Lafontaine.

 

Al Bashir Case: CPIJ Co-Researcher Darryl Robinson presented observations before the ICC

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Darryl Robinson at the hearing

12 September 2018 – CPIJ Co-Researcher Darryl Robinson was yesterday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to orally present Amici Curiae observations on controversial questions arising in the Al Bashir case. The Court’s decision will be of particular importance as the issue at stake, namely the question of immunities of heads of States, has been the subject of a heated debate over the last years.

President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan, accused of genocide and other crimes perpetrated in Darfur, is the object of an arrest warrant by the ICC. Following the failure of some States, including the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, to arrest him, the ICC rendered a decision in which it ruled that immunities of heads of States cannot be invoked to justify an absence of cooperation with the Court. Jordan appealed of this decision. It is in this context that on 18 June 2018, Darryl Robinson and a group of experts including members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice were invited to submit Amici Curiae observations to the ICC concerning the appeal filed by Jordan. The Amici, namely Darryl RobinsonFannie LafontaineValerie OosterveldMargaret M. deGuzmanRobert Cryer and Carsten Stahn, argued that Al Bashir has no immunity before the ICC, in accordance with the interpretation adopted by the Pre-Trial Chamber.

On behalf of this expert group, Mr. Robinson, alongside with other Amici, was asked to orally present the Amici’s observations at a hearing before the ICC. The Partnership is proud to actively contribute to the making of a decision of the highest importance in the Court’s history with its Co-Researchers spearheading the development of complicated judicial advices.

More information about the Amici Curiae is available here.

The ICC has jurisdiction over the alleged deportation of the Rohingya people

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Today, the Pre-trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) ruled on the Prosecutor’s request regarding jurisdiction on the deportation of Royingha people from Myanmar to Bangladesh. This ruling follows most of CPIJ’s observations submitted as Amici curiae in June 2018.

In its decision, the Chamber first determined that “it has the power to entertain the Prosecutor’s request under article 119(1) of the ICC Rome Statute (“Statute”), as well as pursuant to the principle of la compétence de la compétence”. It then decided that the Statute “contains two separate crimes” (forcible transfer and deportation) and that “the Court may exercise its jurisdiction if either an element of a crime mentioned in article 5 of the Statute or part of such a crime is committed on the territory of a State that is party to the Statute”.

The Chamber therefore ruled that “the Court has jurisdiction over the crime against humanity of deportation allegedly committed against members of the Rohingya people” because “an element of this crime (the crossing of the border) took place on the territory of a State party to the Statute (Bangladesh)”. It also recognized that “the Court may also exercise its jurisdiction with regard to any other crime set out in article 5 of the Statute, such as the crimes against humanity of persecution and/or other inhumane acts”.

The dissenting Judge Perrin de Brichambault was of the view that “articles 19(3) and 119(1) of the Statute are inapplicable and that the principle of la compétence de la compétence cannot serve as an alternative basis for the Chamber to provide a ruling”. He “believed that the Court cannot rule on its jurisdiction” at this stage, “but that it remains open to the Prosecutor to present a request for authorisation of an investigation to a Pre-Trial Chamber.”

This decision followed most of the analysis proposed in the CPIJ’s Amici Curiae observations, submitted to the ICC on June 18, 2018. These observations, in support of the Prosecutor’s arguments, concerned three distinct issues. First, the scope of article 19(3) and the powers of the Prosecutor to seek a ruling on jurisdiction before a formal situation has been assigned to it. Second, the scope of the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction under article 12(2). Third, the scope of the crime of deportation under article 7(1)(d) of the Statute.

Relevant documents:

20 years ago, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was adopted

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17 July 2018 – Exactly 20 years ago, the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted in Rome by a conference of 160 States. It is to mark this major historical event that the 17th of July became International Justice Day.

The ICC is the first permanent criminal court designed to fight impunity for authors of the most serious crimes. After a surge of enthusiasm in the 1990s, with the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and the Rwanda, the Court nowadays faces important challenges. As a matter of fact, the ICC received – and still receives – severe criticism concerning its legitimacy, representativeness and impact on peace and reconciliation. It also suffered from its lack of experience, which led to certain missteps.

Despite these important challenges, the consensus on relevance of international justice’s objectives still persists and calls for an innovative approach in order to elaborate solutions and contribute to the realization of these objectives. This is what the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) puts forward through its coordinated research program, which brings together leading Canadian academics and non-governmental actors.

By enhancing the effectiveness of the global effort to hold accountable those responsible for the most serious international crimes, by deterring these atrocities, by contributing to the healing process of victims and by enhancing Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity at a time when the international justice system particularly needs it, CPIJ contributes and will continue to contribute to the Rome Statute’s global project in Canada and elsewhere.

Today, we join our voice to those who contribute to make the fight against impunity a reality in an increasing number of jurisdictions, for the benefit of both justice and peace.

CPIJ holds its first General Assembly with two guests of honour

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The first General Assembly of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) was held in Montreal on 11 June 2018. Besides fruitfully brainstorming on the Partnership’s development, CPIJ had the pleasure to welcome two guests of honour, namely the Honourables Bob Rae and Irwin Cotler. As Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar, Mr. Rae has developed extensive expertise on the Rohingya situation, which he was pleased to share with CPIJ under Chatham House Rules. CPIJ particularly enjoyed this discussion as it was only a few days away from presenting its Amici Curiae observations pertaining to this situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Later that day, the Partnership met with Irwin Cotler, who discussed his work as a member of independent international experts panel designated by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS). The panel was asked to determine whether there was reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Venezuela. In its final report presented on 29 May 2018, the experts answered in the affirmative and recommended notably that the OAS Secretary General invite States Parties to the Rome Statute to refer the situation of Venezuela to the ICC. In brief, CPIJ’s first General Assembly was a frank success, and was productive, stimulating and enjoyable for all.

A group of experts including CPIJ members submitted an Amici Curiae to the ICC on the Al Bashir case

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June 2018– On 18 June 2018, a group of experts including members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) submitted Amici Curiae observations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on complicated and controversial questions arising in the Al Bashir case. This decision of the ICC will be particularly important since it pertains to the power of the UN Security Council to set aside immunities of a head of State in the pursuit of justice, a question which is has been debated for years.

President Omar Al Bashir of Sudan is accused of genocide and other crimes committed in Darfur. The United Nations Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005, stating that “the Government of Sudan and all other parties to the conflict in Darfur, shall cooperate fully with and provide any necessary assistance to the Court and the Prosecutor” (S/RES/1593 (2005)). However, some States, including the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, failed to arrest Omar Al Bashir. Consequently, on 11 December 2017, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II rendered a decision on the non-compliance by Jordan with the request by the Court, where it ruled that the immunities of Omar Al Bashir as Head of State cannot be invoked to justify a failure to comply to the Court’s request of his arrest. Jordan appealed of this decision.

A group of experts including CPIJ members submitted a request for leaveon 26 April 2018, which was accepted by the ICC on 21 May. The Amici therefore submitted their observations four weeks later, stating that the ICC Appeals Chamber should uphold the interpretation adopted by the Pre-Trial Chamber, and that Al Bashir has no immunity before the ICC. The group also suggested legal avenues to respect competing legitimate concerns. The Amici Curiae, signed by Darryl RobinsonFannie LafontaineValerie OosterveldMargaret M. deGuzmanRobert Cryer and Carsten Stahncan be accessed here.

CPIJ members submit Amici Curiae to the ICC concerning the Rohingya situation

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June 2018 – On 18 June 2018, members of the Canadian Partnership for International Justice (CPIJ) submitted Amici Curiae observations to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on legal issues arising from the Prosecutor’s request for a ruling on jurisdiction concerning the Rohingya being deported from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

The Prosecutor’s request under Article 19(3) of the Rome Statute is the first of its kind. She asked the Court to determine if it has jurisdiction over the situation of the Rohingya, who are currently being deported from Myanmar (a non State party to the Rome Statute) to Bangladesh (a State party). The cross-border nature of this crime, involving a country who is not a party to the Court, raises important legal questions about to the Court’s ability to adjudicate the matter.

The Amici Curiae provided the Court with observations, in support of the Prosecutor’s arguments, on three distinct issues. First, the scope of Article 19(3) and the powers of the Prosecutor to seek a ruling on jurisdiction before a formal situation has been assigned to it. Second, the scope of the ICC’s territorial jurisdiction under Article 12(2). Third, the scope of the crime of deportation under article 7(1)(d) of the Rome Statute. The full text of the observations can be found on the ICC website.

“We are proud to contribute to the development of complex judicial issues which are at the very heart of the Court’s work,” said Fannie Lafontaine, the Director of CPIJ. “In this case, it will be very important for the Court to provide clarity on its jurisdiction over cross-border crimes when a non-State party is involved.”

Members of CPIJ had submitted a request for leave on 25 May 2018 to provide these observations. The request was subsequently granted by the Court in a decision that recognized the extensive collective experience of CPIJ’s members in the field of international criminal law, human rights law, refugee law, migration and humanitarian law, as well as their previous interventions before domestic and international courts.

The Amici Curiae is signed by Fannie Lafontaine, Amanda Ghahremani, Jennifer BondRobert J. CurrieJulia GrignonMark KerstenFrançois LarocqueFrédéric MégretValerie OosterveldFrederick John PackerPascal ParadisDarryl RobinsonPenelope SimonsÉrick Sullivan, Alain-Guy Tachou Sipowo, Mirja Trilsch and Jo-Anne Wemmers.

 

For media requests, please contact:

Fannie Lafontaine
Fannie.Lafontaine@fd.ulaval.ca
1-418-656-2131 #3859
(English, French, Spanish)

 

Amanda Ghahremani
aghahremani@ccij.ca
1-514-915-0920
(English, French, Spanish)