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Amnesty Lawyer Calls On US, Other Leading Nations to Support ICC

This week, Amnesty International issued its annual human rights report and a top official with the organization says it captures the soaring highs and crushing lows in the world of international justice. 

For first time, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for a sitting head of state -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Mr. Bashir remains free and recently won re-election. But Amnesty lawyer T. Kumar says the message is clear.

"An arrest warrant was issued to the sitting president which by itself is a remarkable step," Kumar noted.

There were other highlights. In January, Bosnia-Herzegovina issued indictments on charges of genocide in Srebrenica in 1995, where Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Muslim males in what was supposed to have been a U.N. safe haven.

And just last month, Argentina sentenced its last military president, Reynaldo Bignone, to 25 years in prison for crimes committed during his military rule some 30 years ago.

"The national judicial systems have taken over and they have proven they can actually go after their own former president and convict not for political reasons but for humanitarian and crimes against humanity he took during his tenure," he said.

But Kumar says the international community, and its leaders, have suffered big failures.

He says a year after a 22-day conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, there is little interest in investigating alleged war crimes.

Another chilling account can be found in the forward of Amnesty's 400-page report.  It's the story of hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans trapped between retreating Tamil Tigers and advancing Sri Lankan soldiers.  Amnesty says at least 7,000 people died. This week, Sri Lanka again told the United Nations there is no need to investigate.

Kumar and other human rights activists urge the U.S. and other world leaders to sign onto the International Criminal Court.  

"Their fear is that some of their officials may get charged or arrested," Kumar explained. "But the bigger line is no one should be above the law.  if your officials are involved then you should prosecute them."

Amnesty's report this year chronicled torture and ill treatment in more than 100 countries.

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