BBC: ICC prosecutor seeking warant to arrest Gaddafi, his son, and his Security Minister for Crimes Against Humanity

The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor is seeking the arrest of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi and two others for crimes against humanity.  Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Col Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi bore the greatest responsibility for “widespread and systematic attacks” on civilians.

ICC judges must still decide whether or not to issue warrants for their arrest. The Libyan government has already said it will ignore the announcement.  Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Kaim said the court was a “baby of the European Union designed for African politicians and leaders” and its practices were “questionable“.  Libya did not recognise its jurisdiction, like a few other African countries and the United States, he added.

‘Inner circle’

Luis Moreno-Ocampo’s call for the arrest of Col Gaddafi on war crimes charges is his second for a sitting head of state. But as with his indictment of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, this could be just as hard to enforce. Some fear this will only complicate efforts to bring the violence to an end, making it harder to negotiate a settlement – if potential interlocutors fear they will face future prosecution.

The Libyan authorities have already dismissed the International Criminal court as irrelevant. But the prosecutor’s office says it has been getting calls from some unnamed Libyan officials offering evidence, which if true suggests some at least take the prosecutor’s investigations very seriously. And the Libyan leader, his son and his intelligence chief are now looking even more isolated.

Mr Moreno-Ocampo said that after reviewing more than 1,200 documents and 50 interviews with key insiders and witnesses, his office had evidence showing that Col Gaddafi had “personally ordered attacks on unarmed Libyan civilians”.  “His forces attacked Libyan civilians in their homes and in public spaces, shot demonstrators with live ammunition, used heavy weaponry against participants in funeral processions, and placed snipers to kill those leaving mosques after prayers,” he told a news conference in The Hague.

“The evidence shows that such persecution is still ongoing as I speak today in the areas under Gaddafi control. Gaddafi forces have prepared a list with names of alleged dissidents, and they are being arrested, put into prisons in Tripoli, tortured and made to disappear,” he added. Mr Moreno-Ocampo continued: “His [Col Gaddafi’s] second-oldest son, Saif al-Islam, is the de facto prime minister and Sanussi, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is his right-hand man – the executioner, the head of military intelligence. He commanded personally some of the attacks.”

The prosecutor insisted he was “almost ready” for a trial, based on the testimony, particularly of those who had escaped from Libya. Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council praised the ICC move. But its vice-president, Abdel Hafez Ghoga, said: “We would like him [Col Gaddafi] to be tried in Libya first before being put on trial in an international court.

Selective justice?

Earlier, Mr Moreno-Ocampo said the three men were suspected of committing crimes against humanity in two categories – murder and persecution – under the Rome Statute, which established the court.  The charges cover the days following the start of anti-government protests on 15 February. Between 500 and 700 people are believed to have been killed in that month alone.

ICC prosecutors are also studying evidence about the alleged commission of war crimes once the situation developed into an armed conflict.  This includes allegations of rape and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries. An inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council is expected to submit its report on the alleged war crimes to the UN Security Council on 7 June.

 The charges cover the days following the start of anti-government protests on 15 February. Mr Moreno-Ocampo said he was acting in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1970, which referred the situation in Libya to the ICC. The Pre-Trial Chamber’s judges may decide to accept the prosecutor’s application, reject it, or ask him for more information.

If a warrant for Col Gaddafi is issued, it would only be the second time the ICC has sought a warrant for a sitting head of state. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted for genocide in Darfur. Amnesty International said the international community must not allow justice to appear selective, because what was happening in Syria was “equal to if not worse than the situation in Libya”.

Overnight, Libyan state television reported Nato aircraft had bombed an oil terminal in the eastern port of Ras Lanuf. The alleged raid came after insurgents said they had taken full control of the western city of Misrata. The rebels also said they had defeated two brigades of troops loyal to Col Gaddafi in the city of Zintan, south-east of Tripoli, over the weekend.

Yemen’s President Saleh to step down under Gulf Plan

Published in BBC.


President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen has agreed to step down under a 30-day transition plan aimed at ending violent unrest over his 32-year rule.  Officials in the capital Sanaa confirmed the government had accepted the plan drawn up by Gulf Arab states. Mr Saleh will hand power to his vice-president one month after an agreement is signed with the opposition, in return for immunity from prosecution. 

At least 120 people have died during two months of protests. The US has welcomed the announcement; a statement from the White House urged all parties to “swiftly” implement a peaceful transfer of power.  Opposition leader Yassin Noman was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying he welcomed news of the handover but would not take part in a proposed national unity government.

The opposition have been insisting they will not accept immunity from prosecution for Mr Saleh and his family.  If Mr Saleh steps down as expected, he will join Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak as the latest Arab leader to lose power because of a popular revolt this year.

The opposition say they welcome the initiative but seem reluctant to serve in a government with the ruling party. Opposition members have also been sceptical about any deal which would see President Saleh transfer power but not leave office immediately. The timing of the announcement by the president is surprising. Earlier in the day, he delivered a tough speech to members of the country’s army in which he accused the opposition of dragging Yemen into a civil war.

But on Friday Yemen saw some of the largest demonstrations so far as hundreds of thousands took to the streets in rival protests in support of both the opposition and the president. And on Saturday, opposition activists called for a general strike in the country. Tariq Shami, a spokesman for Yemen’s ruling party, told Reuters the party had informed the Gulf Cooperation Council “of their acceptance of the Gulf initiative in full”.

Washington has urged Mr Saleh to set about the transition immediately.  “The timing and form of this transition should be identified through dialogue,” state department spokesman Mark Toner said. Hundreds of thousands of people attended a rally in support of Mr Saleh in Sanaa on Friday but comparable numbers turned out for demonstrations against him in both the capital and the southern city of Taiz.  On Saturday, a general strike called by the opposition caused disruption in Taiz, the port city of Aden and other towns, although apparently it had little effect in the capital.

‘Loop-holes’

Yemen is the Arab world’s most impoverished nation and, even before the current protests, it was becoming increasingly chaotic, with both al-Qaeda and separatist challenges to the government’s authority. Mr Saleh suffered a major political reversal last month when a slew of ministers and ambassadors resigned in protest at the shooting of 45 people at a demonstration in Sanaa.

The president promised earlier not to renew his presidency in 2013 or hand over to his son. He has made – and broken – similar promises in the past.  Members of the opposition coalition say they are wary of loopholes that could keep Mr Saleh, a canny politician, in office. One opposition leader told Reuters that ending the protests would be a major sticking point.  The opposition, the unnamed leader added, did not fully control the hundreds of thousands of people, many of them youth activists, who have taken to the streets

Under the plan proposed by Saudi Arabia and five other states

  • Mr Saleh appoints an opposition leader to run an interim government tasked with preparing for presidential elections two months later
  • Mr Saleh, his family and his aides are given immunity from prosecution
  • Within a month of signing an agreement with the opposition, Mr Saleh quits and hands over to his Vice-President, Abdu Rabu Manur Hadi

Love and the Law: An exerpt from Bulleh Shah (Required reading if you have studied the law)

Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757) was a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and philosopher from what is now considered Pakistan. As one of the leading figures in social thought and spiritualism, Bulleh Shah continually challenged the norms of society, be it materialism or hate for one’s fellow man.

While his work is expansive, the following passage was picked for a personal reason.  Throughout my career as a law school student I have felt an internal stuggle between what I would call my “Universal Self” (or innate sensibility of “fairness”) and the technical nature of the law as embraced by practioners and academics. Several justices over the years, the worst of which is Justice Scalia, have treated the cases that come before the US Supreme Court as a time to showcase thier talent of rationally explaing a inhuman or heartless decision by the court.

Most law school students in the first year, before they have been indoctrinated to accept the notion that injustice can/must be done in order to maintain the court’s precedent, always raise questions of a court not deciding the “right way” even though the Justices were maintained a high level of technical legal analysis. That is because we come into law school believing in our own internal moral compass, again what I would call a relationship to the Universal Self, and the process of learning the law forces one to take actions that may violate one’s own moral code becuase it is the “technically” correct thing to do.  

So I present Bulleh Shah’s verse which I will label as Love and Law. Though he presents teh argument as lambasting the laws created around religions by organizations and priests, but it easily translates to the abject focus on technical rationality in the modern legal forum.  This has been a more significant and epiphany inducing peice than anything I have read in law school- so for all the young lawyers, PLEASE READ THIS!

Love and Law are struggling in the human heart.
The doubt of the heart will I settle by relating questions of Law
And the answers of Love I will describe, holy Sir;

Law says go to the Mullah (priest) and learn the rules and regulations.
Love answers, “One letter is enough, shut up and put away other books.”
Law says: Perform the five baths and worship alone in the temple (reffering to the 5x daily prayer of Muslims) 
Love says: Your worship is false if you consider yourself seperate from the Universal Self.

Law says: Have shame and hide the enlightenment
Love says: What is this veil for? Let the vision be open
Law says: Go inside the mosque and perform the duty of prayer
Love says: Go to the wine-house and drinking the wine, read a prayer

Law says: Let us go to heaven; we will eat the fruits of heaven
Love says: There, we are custodians or rulers, and we ourselves will distribute the fruits of heaven
Law says: O faithful one, come perform the hajj (pilgrimage), you have to cross the bridge
Love says: The door of the Beloved (God/Allah) is in ka’baa; from there I will not stir 

Law says:  We placed Shah Mansur (a contraversial Sufi Saint) on the stake
Love says: You did well, you made him enter the door of the Beloved (God/Allah)
THE RANK OF LOVE IS THE HIGHEST HEAVEN, THE CROWN OF CREATION.
OUT OF LOVE, HE (Allah/ God) has created Bulleh, humble, and from dust.   

Waris Husain Editorial: The ISI (Pakistan’s Spy Agency) Working for Retirement


Many experts claim that the relationship between theU.S.andPakistan’s spy agency is reaching a boiling point. The top brass inPakistan’s military is attacking the CIA presence in the nation, using the leverage it gained through releasing a CIA agent, Raymond Davis, and allowing theU.S.to continue its drone war. The problem with defining this moment as a “game-changer” is that it neglects to take into account the long-running love/hate relationship between the CIA and ISI. Rather than a winner-take-all war between two of the most pervasive spy organizations in the world, this situation is more akin to an employer frustrated with the unsatisfactory performance of his star contractor. While the employer (theU.S.government) continues to try and push their contractor to pursue the goals it has laid out, the contractor (Pakistan’s ISI) is anxiously awaiting his approaching retirement date. 

The correlation between the ISI and a disgruntled but capable contractor dawned on me as I watched my father during the last years at his city government position. Perhaps the most interesting part of my father’s employment was his complete over-qualification for the job he was assigned to, which could have been performed by an individual with half the education he received. This training allowed him to handle to handle complex work in a quick fashion and earned my father the reputation as the “go-to-guy” in the office, and his employer depended on his knowledge.

The same reliance and high capability exists in the relationship between the ISI and theU.S.Because the ISI has spent so much time and money on developing links with most major militant groups in its midst, they provide a powerful ally for the U.S. in its fight against these same groups. Outside of the CIA itself, theU.S.government depends almost completely on the ISI’s intelligence and connections for its battle inAfghanistan’s border region, and both parties know it.

The position my father filled as a city health statistician was also not suited to his interests, and while he held onto his job for twenty years, he never felt passionately about his employment. Rather his job was a means to an end to provide him with a steady source of income so that he could fund his own interests, be it journalism or poetry.

In many ways, the ISI fills a similar role of disinterested ally with theU.S., even though much of its “income” comes fromWashington.  The ISI has redirected its income in a nefarious manner by using the funding it receives from theU.S.government, to serve its ulterior interests that directly challengeU.S.security. The ISI has two primary interests to which it misappropriatesU.S.funding:IndiaandAfghanistan. In order to continue destabilizing and putting pressure onIndia, the ISI uses its income to fund and train militant groups to fight inKashmir. On the other hand, the ISI wishes to hedge its bets for a post-KarzaiAfghanistan, and so they appease and offer shelter to groups allied to the Afghan Taliban.

An interesting feature about my father’s career was that as his frustration with his job grew, so did the hostility between him and his employer. By the end of his career at the government office, my father was literally counting down the days until he could retire, because his work environment was so hostile. Each day he would say with more excitement, “I am almost done with this.” Yet being his son, I sensed that he was growing increasingly anxious at the prospect of severing this relationship and being left without a purpose or income. Thankfully, soon after, he began planning all of the professional opportunities he could take advantage of after retirement. And as these plans grew in scope and number, his anxiety also seemed to diminish. Now my father is enjoying his days, filling them with the writing and research, dedicated his true passion, and indeed he seems much happier.

ForPakistan’s ISI, it is clear that they too have become exhausted with their employment under theU.S.as they continually battle against public will to capitulate to demands fromWashington. This has led the ISI to minimally satisfy the demands of theU.S.in the War on Terror because it is merely waiting until its retirement date. The ISI likely perceives its retirement date as set for when theU.S.exitsAfghanistan, which will free up the ISI to act without oversight by the Americans across the border. Yet, the ISI lacks a legitimate post-retirement plan as it seems to be positioning itself to enter a new era of state-sponsored terrorism by creating links with Afghan and anti-India militants.

The back and forth nature of the US- Pakistan relationship has resulted in several outbreaks of hostility between both sides, many of which have been called “disasters” from which there was no return. Yet, the complex relationship has continued because of the one major difference between my father’s situation and the ISI’s. My father’s international interests were completely unrelated to the objectives of his municipal employer, but the interests ofPakistanand theU.S.are far more interwoven. Unless both countries can work together to eradicate the threat of anti-state militant groups, they will both face the same peril. Thus, the ISI should begin planning for retirement in a more logical way- by pursuing some of the objectives of theU.S.and cutting its relationships with the same militant groups that will gladly disintegrate the nation if given the chance.

Nigeria’s New Vote “Will Change Country”

Published in BBC

Preliminary parliamentary poll results revealing big losses for the ruling party show Nigeria “has changed”, an analyst has told the BBC.  “It tells a story to every politician: You can no longer take Nigerians for granted,” Victor Burubo said. High-profile PDP casualties include speaker of the lower house Dimeji Bankole and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s daughter in the senate.

Despite some violence, observers said Saturday’s poll was well-conducted. The initial vote had to be postponed from 2 April after voting material failed to reach many areas. Previous elections since the return to civilian rule in 1999 have been marred by widespread fraud and intimidation.  Elections for the presidency and state governorships were also delayed and are now to be held on 16 and 26 April respectively.

With more than 70% of preliminary results announced at a state level, President Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has suffered significant losses.  The party that has dominated politics since the military returned to barracks has so far taken 59 seats in the 109-member senate and 140 seats in the 360-member House of Representatives.

Correspondents say it is not clear whether the PDP will lose its absolute majority in both houses as voting in some 13-14% of parliamentary constituencies – where polling had begun on 2 April – has been delayed until 26 April.  The party has lost out to two newly formed parties, the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the south-west and to the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in parts of the north.

There was another embarrassing loss for the PDP in the northern state of Katsina where Maryam Yar’Adua, daughter of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, failed in her bid get into the House of Representatives. But Mr Burubo, who leads the National Ijaw Council in the southern oil-rich Niger Delta, said the PDP’s bad showing on a parliamentary level would not affect the presidential vote.  “I have a feeling that a good number of areas where the PDP has been beaten will still revert to the PDP candidates, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and his running mate Sambo because of who they are are – not just because of the party,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

The Guardian: Syrian Soldiers for refusing to fire on protestors


Syrian soldiers have been shot by security forces after refusing to fire on protesters, witnesses said, as a crackdown on anti-government demonstrations intensified.
Witnesses told al-Jazeera and the BBC that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias in the wake of intense protests on Friday.
  Human rights monitors named Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, as one of those shot by security snipers. “His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people,” said Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor.

Footage on YouTube shows an injured soldier saying he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters. Signs of defections will be worrying to Syria‘s regime. State media reported a different version of events, claiming nine soldiers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.

Activists said not all soldiers reported dead or injured were shot after refusing to fire. “We are investigating reports that some people have personal weapons and used them in self-defence,” said Tarif.  The reports came as a leading Syrian opposition figure said pro-government gunmen had attacked two villages close to Banias, 25 miles south of Latakia, which has become the latest focus of violence since protests on Friday. Haitham al-Maleh told AP attackers were using automatic rifles in Bayda and Beit Jnad.

Human rights organisations said at least five protesters in Banias had been killed since Sunday including one on Tuesday. In Bayda witnesses reported that security thugs had beaten up men in the central square, and rights groups said hundreds of people had been arrested, including students who took part in an unprecedented rally at Damascus University on Monday.

Violence in the port cities of Banias and Latakia has become increasingly messy as locals report the involvement of pro-government thugs and private militias. One witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “shabiha” (pro-government thugs) had attacked in cars decorated with photos of the president, Bashar al-Assad, on Sunday. Residents of Banias said there was a shortage of bread, and electricity and communications were intermittent.

Syria’s leading pro-democracy group, the Damascus Declaration, urged the Arab League to impose sanctions on the regime and said the death toll from more than three weeks of unrest had topped 200. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest against Assad’s authoritarian rule. Assad blames the violence on armed gangs and has vowed to crush unrest. He has made a series of overtures to appease anger, including sacking officials and granting Syrian nationality to thousands of Kurds, a long-ostracised minority. But the gestures have failed to satisfy protesters, who demand political freedoms and an end to the decades-old emergency laws that allow the regime to arrest people without charge.

On Tuesday Human Rights Watch condemned security forces for barring access to medical care. UK citizens were warned against “all but essential” travel to Syria and all travel to Banias, where residents are now holding a three-day strike.

Libyan revolutionary council rejects African Union’s peace initiative

Published in the Guardian.

Mustafa Abdul Jalil

Libya’s revolutionary leadership has flatly rejected an African Union peace initiative because it does not require Muammar Gaddafi to immediately relinquish power.  The rebels’ interim ruling council met an AU delegation from five countries – led by three presidents and two foreign ministers – the day after Gaddafi endorsed the African “roadmap to peace”, which included an immediate ceasefire, the suspension of Nato air strikes and talks towards a political settlement.

But Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the revolutionary council chairman, said the rebels had told the AU its proposal had been outdated by events, including the UN security council resolution authorising air strikes, and was in any case unacceptable because it left Gaddafi in power while both sides negotiated.

From the very beginning we have been asking that the exit of Gaddafi and his sons take place immediately. We cannot consider this or any future proposal that does not include this peoples’ requirement,” said Jalil. “He leaves on his own or the march of the people will be at his doorstep.”

That view was strongly backed by thousands of demonstrators outside the Benghazi hotel where the talks were held. They waved revolutionary flags and carried signs saying: “No solution with Gaddafi staying”. Jalil said that the AU peace proposal was drafted a month ago and had been overtaken by the UN security council resolution requiring Gaddafi to halt his attacks on civilians. “Colonel Gaddafi did not recognise this resolution and continued bombing civilians from the air and shooting them, and surrounding cities with his forces and put his forces inside cities. There is not any way the Libyan people can accept such a situation,” he said.

Although the AU proposal included a ceasefire, the rebels said it did not go far enough. They want one that requires Gaddafi to withdraw his forces from towns where they have been used to suppress the revolution, particularly Misrata and Zawiya, and the allowing of unfettered public protest in the hope that Libyans in cities still under Gaddafi’s control will seize the opportunity to rise up.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, backed the revolutionaries’ position saying that Gaddafi must go and that a new ceasefire would have to meet the UN requirement for a withdrawal of his forces from cities they are attacking.  “Anything short of this would be a betrayal of the people of Libya and would play into the hands of the regime, which has announced two utterly meaningless ceasefires since the fighting began without its vicious military campaign missing a single beat,” the foreign secretary said.

Jalil also rejected the AU’s proposal for a cessation of Nato air strikes. “If it were not for the air strikes carried out by the coalition forces and Nato we would not now be at this meeting,” he said. The AU’s proposal for an end to the air strikes was also met with scepticism by Nato. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, said that for a ceasefire to work it would need to be “credible and verifiable”, suggesting that international monitors would need to be deployed on the ground in Libya, but that it was “too early” for this.

“We need to establish an effective monitoring mechanism if a ceasefire is to be credible,” he said.  Jalil said that the revolutionary council had confronted the AU delegation with evidence that mercenaries from several African countries were fighting for Gaddafi, particularly from Algeria.

The AU delegation – made up of South Africa, Uganda, Mauritania, Congo-Brazzaville and Mali – left the talks looking glum, without making a public comment and to the derisive shouts of the protesters outside the hotel.  The revolutionary leadership was distrustful of the AU initiative from the beginning. Gaddafi used Libya’s oil wealth to buy greater influence in Africa after his aspirations to forge an Arab union were spurned. The AU delegation included the leaders of countries that have taken money from Gaddafi as well as South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, whose party, the African National Congress, has accepted considerable donations from the Libyan leader.

The rebels were disturbed to see Zuma refer to the Libyan dictator as “brother leader”. The South African leader did not travel on to the Benghazi meeting.  While Gaddafi told the AU he was ready for a ceasefire, his forces continued their onslaught against Misrata. Unicef warned that thousands of children in the city were in grave danger.

At least 20 children, mostly under the age of 10, have been killed in the besieged city in the past month, according to Unicef. Many more have been injured by gunfire or shrapnel from mortars and tank shells. “More and more children in this city are being killed, injured and denied their essential needs due to the fighting,” said Shahida Azfar of Unicef. “Until the fighting stops we face the intolerable inevitability of children continuing to die and suffer in this war zone.”

At least 250 people in the town, mostly civilians, have died in the past month according to two doctors interviewed by phone by Human Rights Watch (HRW). “The Libyan government’s near-siege of Misrata has not prevented reports of serious abuses getting out,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of HRW. “We’ve heard disturbing accounts of shelling and shooting at a clinic and in populated areas, killing civilians where no battle was raging.”