British QC has been elected as the new chief prosecutor for the international criminal court in an election by the court’s 131 member states at the UN in New York. Karim Khan will replace Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia, and as he starts his nine-year term he faces a daunting task trying to secure more convictions and spread acceptance of the court’s jurisdiction across the globe.
The secret ballot for the post was the first in the court’s history – and took place amid some controversy and high politics between member states.
Khan, 50, beat candidates from Ireland, Spain and Italy to win on a second round of voting with support from 72 nations – 10 more than the 62 needed.
Khan was called to the English bar in 1992, and has promised to reform the prosector’s office to make it more efficient. He is regarded as a tough, fiercely clever advocate, and was appointed in 2018 by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, to lead the UN team investigating international crimes committed by Isis.
The first task of the third prosecutor in the ICC’s short history will be to try to secure more convictions and so increase the court’s legitimacy among the many member states that refuse to recognise its jurisdiction – including the US, Russia and China. The court has also faced skepticism in Africa as leaders from that continent have increasingly become the sole focus of the Hague-based court.
Karim had not originally been on the shortlist for the post and was added partly at the insistence of the Kenyan government. Karim had controversially acted as defence counsel for the Kenyan vice-president, William Ruto, when he was charged with crimes against humanity following post-election violence in 2007 that led to 1,200 people being killed.
The charges were dropped in 2016 by the ICC after what was described as “troubling incidence of witness interference and intolerable political meddling”. One key witness was killed in December 2014. Khan recently wrote an open letter detailing how he did all possible to prevent intimidation by ensuring the individual was put under witness protection, and then seeking an inquiry.
By the start of this week it looked as if Khan would be chosen by consensus, the ICC’s preferred method of appointment, when last-minute objections came in from Spain and Mauritius.
The objections came from Mauritius focused less on Karim as an individual, but that he was nominated by the British government. Mauritius had been infuriated that UK ministers had for a second time said they had no need to abide by rulings of international UN courts in the dispute over its sovereignty of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.
Karim will have to decide the next steps on the investigation into war crimes in Afghanistan, and the contentious investigation into the 2014 Israel-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. The European parliament this week called for a worldwide ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia, also called for an ICC war crimes investigation into the civil war in Yemen.
The administration of the then US president Donald Trump hit Bensouda and another senior ICC official last year with sanctions including a travel ban and an asset freeze over the inquiry, which includes alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan.
Israel – which is also not an ICC member – has strongly opposed the inquiry into alleged war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.
ICC judges, however, ruled last week that the court had jurisdiction over Palestine, paving the way for a full investigation after a five-year preliminary inquiry opened by Bensouda.
Puntland forces block delegation waiting to receive Planning Minister Jamal Hassan in Garowe
Puntland security forces reportedly under instructions from State President Abdullahi Deni barred a delegation which was to received Federal Planning Minister Jamal Hassan at Garowe Airport Thursday morning.
The minister who was on his way to his constituency in Dhahar, Sanaag region arrived at the airport but without a receiving delegation after his team on the ground was blocked from accessing the airport, sources at the airport said.
After he left the airport, sources said, a confrontation arose between his security team from Dhahar and Puntland forces. The team from Dhahar had come to pick him.
The government forces had reportedly attempted to bar him from leaving for Dhahar but he finally managed to leave.
Jamal, a close ally of President Mohamed Farmaajo does not see eye to eye with Deni whom sources said has attempted to derail his re-election.
Jamal will be seeking to be re-elected by his sub-clan in Dhahar in the upcoming Lower House elections.
Source: Hiiraan and Agencies
Farmajo names committee of inquiry to investigate disappearance of former spy Ikran Tahlil
Somali president Mohamed Farmajo has appointing a five-member committee to investigate the disappearance of former spy agent Ikran Tahlil.
“I hereby appoint a five-Member Commission of inquiry Chaired by the Attorney-General and deputized by Head of Military Court to expedite investigations on the case of IKRAN TAHLIL and to hand over the findings and evidence to responsible legal institutions for the execution of Justice.”
In the presidential decree, Farmajo appointed the Attorney-General to lead the fact-finding mission. The Armed Forces Court Attorney General is also a member of the committee. The three committee members will be nominated later by the Somali Police Force Commander, the Commander of the Somali National Army and Col. Yasin Abdulahi Mohamud, his new appointee Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.
The statement added that Ikran’s case was a “sensitive one that needs a thorough investigation.”
Farmajo instructed the commission to submit its investigative reports to the relevant authorities, although there will undoubtedly be demands to make the findings of any report public. There will also likely be apprehension to Somalia’s intelligence agency being a part of the investigation. Many lawmakers have called on an independent inquiry into Ikran’s murder.
Farmajo declared that the decree came into effect immediately after he signed it.
Qorqor and Laftagareen try to bring Farmajo and Roble together
The presidents of Galmudug, Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoor Qoor his South West State counterpart and Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed Laftagareen have taken the role of mediators to find a solution the wrangle between President Mohamed Farmajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Roble.
The two met with Farmajo and Roble separately, and urged both parties to refrain from further action that would escalate the tense situation.
Reports indicate that the president and the prime minister have accepted the mediation, although each has developed conditions attached to the talks.
Prime Minister Roble insisted that Commander Bashir Goobe was the commander of NISA, and President Farmajo emphasized that the steps taken by the Prime Minister were invalid.
The meeting is expected to continue on Friday. The two presidents are hopeful that the two top officials will finally be reconciled so that their differences do not affect the election process.
The intervention comes amidst heightened political tensions between Farmajo and Roble which could threaten the fragile security of the Horn of Africa nation.
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