Posts in the category ‘Human Rights’

The Perception of “Victor’s Justice” in the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda

In the article “Beyond Victor’s Justice? The Challenge of Prosecuting the Winners at the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda,”[1] Victor Peskin says that he is concerned with the perpetuation by the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) of the “victor’s justice” problem that plagued the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals. Although the ICTY and the ICTR are undoubtedly more fair than the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals were, insofar as they attempt to prosecute both the “winning” and the “losing” sides of the conflict, Peskin argues that the ICTY and the ICTR’s lack of enforcement powers makes it easy for victorious states to withhold evidence and the general assistance these tribunals need to investigate and prosecute suspects. As a result, Peskin argues that, over the years, few Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front army (RPF) and Croatian suspected war criminals have been indicted by the ICTY and the ICTR.

In my opinion, while in practice states cannot be compelled to cooperate with war crimes investigations, it is in their best interest to comply with the tribunals’ orders and to refrain from obstructing the investigations. Firstly, as Payam Akhavan has argued in his article “Beyond Impunity: Can International Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?” and as I previously argued on this blog[2], it is no longer profitable for political parties to be associated “with…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

Nothing new under the sun: the ICJ renders its judgment in the Jurisdictional Immunities of the State Case

In my previous entry, titled “The Changing Landscape of International Law: Investor-State Arbitration and the Case of Pac Rim Cayman LLC v. El Salvador”, I wrote about how bilateral investment treaties (BITs) have altered the traditional paradigm of public international law. Investor-state arbitration clauses in BITs provide the mechanisms whereby individuals (including corporations), who do not possess international legal personality, are able to sue foreign states. BITs are somewhat exceptional, however, because they explicitly provide the framework under which individuals can sue foreign states; they do not change or replace the general rule of international law concerning sovereign immunity. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) released its decision on February 3rd in the Jurisdictional Immunities of the State Case (Germany v. Italy), reaffirming traditional concepts of sovereign immunity in public international law. [1]

Germany applied to the ICJ for a ruling that certain decisions of Italian courts violated its sovereign immunity. The case before the ICJ arose in reaction to civil actions brought before Italian and Greek courts in which individuals who were persecuted under the Nazi occupation during the Second World War sued the German state. In 2004, the Italian Corte di Cassazione ruled that Germany could not rely on sovereign immunity for acts carried out during the Second World War because the acts in question constituted international crimes. [2] This ruling led to an influx of cases in…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

What Should Happen to an Economic or Social Right When a State Cannot Afford to Fulfill It?

Social rights – which traditionally include circumscribed rights to healthcare, education, social security and housing – amount to a tall order for States. Even residents’ right to ‘healthcare services’ can, on its own, amount to an impressive demand on any State’s financial resources. To limit the ambit of what social rights require of any State, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights only obliges State Parties to undertake steps “to the maximum of its available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized”.[1] The manner in which we understand how financial constraints affect human rights will influence how we perceive social rights, States’ obligations to fulfill them, and a Court’s role in enforcing them. To set the stage, this note returns to the South African Constitutional Court’s foundational decision, Soobramoney v. Minister of Health (Kwazulu-Natal).[2]

Where Rights Are Limited by Financial Constraints

The appellant, one Thiagrag Soobramoney, had entered the final stages of chronic renal failure. His life could have been prolonged by means of regular renal dialysis. He was, however, denied this treatment by local health authorities. In brief, the hospital had adopted a policy of only affording renal dialysis treatment to patients who suffered from acute renal failure, which could be remedied by renal dialysis, or to patients who were eligible and waiting for a kidney transplant.…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

L’Union européenne peut-elle être tenue responsable des violations des droits sociaux et économiques des Grecs?

Le gouvernement de coalition de la Grèce serait aujourd’hui même parvenu à un accord sur des nouvelles mesures d’austérité. L’Union Européenne, la Banque Centrale Européenne et le Fonds Monétaire International exigent des mesures suffisantes avant d’accepter de faire un nouveau prêt de 130 milliards d’euros à la Grèce, sans lequel la Grèce sera en défaut de payer ses créanciers le 20 mars prochain.

Les mesures comportent entre autre une diminution de 22 % du salaire minimum, le congédiement de 15 000 fonctionnaires, une multitude de nouvelles taxes (impôts sur le revenu, taxe sur la vente, etc.), et des diminutions dans les programmes de privatisation prévu par le gouvernement. Les pensions de retraite ont résisté à la coupe in extremis.

La Grèce vit des mesures d’austérité depuis 2 ans. Nul besoin de préciser que les premières coupes n’ont pas eu tellement de succès, la situation de la Grèce aujourd’hui parle d’elle-même. L’économie n’est pas le sujet de ce blog, mais il est difficile de concevoir que couper généreusement les revenus d’une population déjà prise à la gorge permettra à la Grèce de stimuler son économie. Comment celle-ci peut-elle trouver des moyens de rembourser la dette autrement qu’en réempruntant (à ses mêmes créanciers, tout de même) à moyen terme si ces créanciers eux-mêmes la forcent à mettre sa population dans la rue? Comment les petites et moyennes entreprises grecques sont-elles…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

Les limites de la « dissuasion » en droit pénal national et international

Payam Akhavan, dans son article « Beyond Impunity: Can International Justice Prevent Future Atrocities »[1], s’interroge sur la façon dont la justice pénale peut prévenir la perpétration de crimes de guerre et de crimes contre l’humanité ou empêcher leur répétition[2]. Il estime entre autres que la crainte de représailles – qu’il s’agisse de mesures judiciaires ou de sanctions politiques – peut finir par dissuader certains acteurs de commettre des atrocités.

Il va sans dire que cet argument s’applique aux hommes d’État et leaders politiques. D’une part, la création de tribunaux spéciaux en ex-Yougoslavie (TPIY) et au Rwanda (TPIR) et les emprisonnements qui ont suivi ont contribué à miner la culture d’impunité qui régnait jadis chez certains hommes politiques assoiffés de pouvoir. D’autre part, comme l’ont démontré les succès électoraux de Vojislav Koštunica en Serbie et de Stjepan Mesic en Croatie lors des années 1990, il n’est désormais plus rentable sur les plans politique et économique d’être associé aux anciens leaders accusés ou condamnés pour crimes commis en temps de guerre[3]. En effet, malgré la pression de certaines franges endoctrinées souhaitant la réhabilitation d’anciens « héros » ultranationalistes, la crainte d’être isolé à l’échelle internationale suffit souvent à convaincre les leaders politiques de quitter les marges et de reconnaître la compétence des institutions judiciaires internationales telles que le TPIY et, plus récemment, la Cour pénale internationale (CPI).

Or, Akhavan…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

Ecuador opens its borders to universal citizenship: a step forward on the way to equality of peoples?

In principle, open borders might tend toward the respect of international equality; but in practice it does not necessarily provide more equality for vulnerable populations. It can actually enable profiteers to benefit from less supervised borders and trick desperate people into leaving their home for the American dream. Opening borders may not be enough: if an immigrant finds himself inside the country but excluded from the local community, like those who do not have papers in Ecuador, he may not be illegal but he is not legal either. Future experiences of open-borders may be more positive, who knows; but the Ecuadorian situation can hardly be called a success.[i]

Borders are quite representative of the current state of international affairs: each state, as the supreme authority, decides who comes in and who gets to stay on its territory. Some countries are lucky, like Canada: being very attractive to most, Canada can pick and choose as it pleases. For immigrants, coming to Canada generally means an important improvement of living conditions and revenue. Thus, Canada has strict immigration policies that allow it to discriminate against immigrants that may not be as “desirable” for the Canadian society.

Now this raises the question: are borders and discriminatory immigration legitimate? Is it possible to administrate a country without borders? Does international equality require open borders? If a country suddenly changes its policy and opens…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

UN blacklist a stain on international justice

Abousfian Abdelrazik has overcome another hurdle in his long struggle for justice.

On November 30, the Montreal resident was finally removed from the United Nations Security Council 1267 List. The blacklist imposes an asset freeze, travel ban and arms embargo on alleged associates of Al Qaida and the Taliban.

But despite his new freedom, Abdelrazik’s fight is far from over.

Still outstanding are a $27-million lawsuit against the Canadian government, a constitutional challenge to the legislation implementing the 1267 list sanctions, and an apology from the Canadian government for its role in Abdelrazik’s almost decade-long saga that could have been written by Kafka.

Arriving in Canada as a refugee, Abdelrazik was given Canadian citizenship in 1995. He returned to Sudan, where he is a dual citizen, to visit his sick mother in 2003. There he was arrested, imprisoned, interrogated, and tortured. He was never charged with any crime and was eventually cleared by both the Sudanese government and Canada’s RCMP and CSIS of any criminal wrongdoing.

However the Canadian government refused to issue Abdelrazik a passport to return to Canada, using the 1267 List as an excuse. Abdelrazik’s name had been added to the list in 2006 at the request of the United States.

Abdelrazik spent the next 14 months sleeping on a cot in the Canadian embassy. Finally in 2009, Federal Court of Canada judge Russel…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

Netzai Sandoval, un jeune avocat mexicain, se lance contre Goliath

Un avocat de 28 ans, Netzai Sandoval, a déposé le 25 novembre une plainte à la Cour pénale internationale contre des membres du gouvernement mexicain ainsi que des cartels de la drogue. En 8 mois de travail, il a amassé de la preuve sur 470 violations du droit international, montant un dossier de 700 pages. Il a reçu les signatures de 23 000 citoyens  mexicains pour appuyer sa plainte, ce nombre ayant aujourd’hui augmenté à 27 000. Toute l’information sur la plainte est disponible sur leur blogue.

Les plaintes déposées à la CPI proviennent généralement d’États. L’avocat a ainsi présenté une plainte avec l’objectif que Luis Moreno Ocampo, le Procureur en chef de la CPI, ouvre une enquête selon son pouvoir discrétionnaire de le faire (art. 15 du Statut de Rome). Le Procureur devra donc évaluer le sérieux de la preuve, et s’il est d’avis qu’il dispose de bases raisonnables pour ouvrir l’enquête, il devra demander une autorisation de la Chambre préliminaire. Celle-ci se prononcera également sur la base raisonnable de la demande.

Les violations auxquelles il réfère sont traduites par Global Voices, un blogue francophone : « Nous réclamons que la Cour enquête sur les disparitions, le recrutement d’enfants de moins de 15 ans, sur les exécutions sommaires opérées par des soldats, sur la mutilation en tant que forme d’intimidation, sur les attaques perpétrées contre la population civile, sur les déplacements…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

November 28, 2011
BY fcader

0 Comments

FILED UNDER
Human Rights

Review of Dennis Edney’s Lecture: “The Rule of Law in an Age of Terror”

“Human rights have a dysfunctional relationship with justice. The language is certainly beautiful, but it’s all dressed up with nowhere to go,” charged Dennis Edney in a scathing lecture at the Faculty of Law at UBC on September 15.

Edney worked from 2004 to 2011 on Omar Khadr’s defence against charges stemming from the July 2002 firefight death of a US soldier. Khadr, who is Canadian, was 15 at the time. American forces interrogated him for three months in the US-operated Bagram Theatre Detention Facility in Afghanistan, before transferring him to Guantanamo Bay, where he remains. In 2005, Khadr’s chief interrogator from Bagram, US Sergeant Joshua Claus, was found guilty of offences relating to the routine torture and homicide of Bagram prisoners. Claus received a five-month prison sentence. He testified at Khadr’s military trial in 2010.

In April 2009, the Federal Court ruled that Canada was complicit in the US’s torture of Khadr and ordered Ottawa to seek his repatriation. The Federal Court of Appeal concurred, but the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that though Canada was violating Khadr’s human rights, it was not obliged to seek his repatriation.

In October 2010, after insisting on his innocence for years, Khadr pled guilty in a military trial to terrorism-related offences, in exchange for a promise from Canada to repatriate him by October 2011 to serve the rest of his prison sentence in…

Continue reading this entry ➔

 

L’accès aux médicaments antirétroviraux en contexte de crise de la santé publique et les obstacles posés par le droit international de la propriété intellectuelle

Chaque année, près de 2,7 millions de nouvelles infections au virus de l’immunodéficience humaine (VIH) sont rapportées et près de 2 millions de personnes en meurent (1). Les experts observent toutefois que les pics des nouvelles infections et de la mortalité annuelle sont maintenant derrière nous (1) et que les chiffres montrent une diminution globale de l’incidence du VIH/sida au niveau mondial (2). Un plus grand accès aux médicaments antirétroviraux (ARV) et une baisse de leur prix en faveur des populations des pays en développement (PED) est en grande partie responsable des progrès récents. Les ARV, en plus d’être les médicaments préconisés par les médecins  partout dans le monde pour un traitement efficace de la maladie, jouent un important rôle préventif en diminuant notablement les probabilités de transmission du virus (2, 3).

L’accès aux ARV est donc capital pour les PED, dont les populations ont les plus hauts taux d’incidence (4). Il y a près de dix ans, les ARV n’étaient que peu ou pas accessibles aux victimes de la maladie dans les PED, coûtant près de 10 000 $ par année pour chaque patient (5, 6). La société civile ainsi que certains membres de la communauté médicale internationale, outrés par l’attitude des grandes compagnies pharmaceutiques[1], ont donc dû prendre les choses en main afin de modifier l’ordre du jour politique global et  réitérer l’importance d’agir contre les ravages que…

Continue reading this entry ➔