News archive: March 2012
29 March 2012
The European rapporteur charged with investigating the case of 63 African migrants who were “left to die” in the Mediterranean last year has warned those responsible could end up in court. On Wednesday, the Guardian revealed the findings of a damning official report into the fateful voyage, which saw the sub-Saharan refugees drifting in the sea for two weeks while dying of thirst and starvation, even though their boat had been located by European authorities and emergency distress calls had been issued to all other ships in the area. The report blamed a collective set of “human, institutional and legal” failures for the inaction, labelling it a “dark day for Europe” and concluding that large loss of life could have been avoided if the various agencies in the area – NATO, its warships, the Italian coastguard and individual European states – had fulfilled their basic obligations.
Source: The Guardian | Migrant boat disaster: those responsible 'could face legal action'
25 March 2012
Libya’s interim authorities escalated their face-off against the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the entitlement to try Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi and Abdullah Senussi (former intelligence chief of Libya). In regard of the latter, France also seeks custody. The interim authorities are determined to try both defendants at home, but doubts on the ability to hold a fair trial have induced the ICC to step in and to seek custody of the defendants.
Source: New York Times | Libya Resists International Court’s Claim on War Crimes Case
21 March 2012
On the 21 March 2012, Amnesty International said that, while NATO may have taken appropriate measures to limit casualties to civilians in Libya, this did not remove its responsibility to investigate all civilian deaths and provide adequate compensation, which is so far deficient.
Source: Reuters | NATO failed to investigate Libya civilian deaths: Amnesty
18 March 2012
This week, the African Commission on Human Rights decided that it was seized of a case against 16 member states of the South African Development Community (SADC) for their decision to suspend the SADC Tribunal. The SADC Tribunal had held in 2008 that the decision by Zimbabwe to take land from white farmers was in violation of the SADC Treaty. Zimbabwe declined to implement that judgment, and the SADC member states suspended the Court. This left persons who already had filed applications with the SADC at the time of the decision without recourse, as they petitioned the African Commission, arguing that all SADC states (who had all voted in favour the suspension of the Court) had violated the African Convention on Human and People’s Rights.
Source: The Zimbabwean | Breakthrough in fight to restore Southern Africa rights court
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16 March 2012
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has opened an inquiry into how Frontex implements its fundamental rights obligations. Frontex is an EU agency based in Warsaw that assists EU Member States in the field of border security. The inquiry follows concerns voiced by civil society that Frontex would be ‘complicit’ in the violation of human rights, in particular because of its cooperation with Greece, where migrants are, according to the European Court of Human Rights, systematically treated in violation of human rights. One of the questions asked by the Ombudsman to Frontex is which party, Frontex and/or the Member State, is responsible for possible failures to respect fundamental rights in joint operations of border control. Further, the Ombudsman wants to know whether Frontex envisages the establishment of a mechanism by which migrants may complain to Frontex about possible human rights violations. The Ombudsman has asked Frontex to submit an opinion by 31 May 2012. The letter which opens the inquiry can be found here.
Source: European Ombudsman | Ombudsman investigates Frontex’s fundamental rights implementation