ICC rules past trauma not a defense against the war crime of forced pregnancy

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The international court concluded a case against a former child soldier whose defense included that he had been a victim himself when he was abducted and conscripted into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army at the age of 10. The acts for which he was tried took place later on, when he was a high ranking commander of that force.

The ruling establishes for the ICC that “suffered victimization in the past is not a justification, nor an excuse to victimize others,” as was argued by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her opening statements of the trial in 2016.

The ruling is considered to be somewhat of a landmark because it expands the ICC’s definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity to include forced pregnancy and forced marriage.

By Milan Sime Martinić

ICC has jurisdiction over Palestine, it says

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International Criminal Court judges found that the court has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories because Palestine had been granted membership to the tribunal’s founding treaty.

The decision refers to the territories without attempting to say anything about the question of Palestinian statehood or national borders. The ICC’s jurisdiction, the judges found, extends to Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem–territories occupied by Israel since 1967.

The finding may lead to the ICC taking up war crimes cases against the Israeli Defense Forces and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas, according to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

In response, Netanyahu issued a televised message where he said that “When the ICC investigates Israel for fake war crimes, this is pure antisemitism.” He said Israel was defending itself against terrorists, and pointed to dictatorships in Iran and Syria “who commit horrific atrocities almost daily” which the ICC “refuses to investigate.”

The US also opposed the decision. Human Rights Watch, though, said it “finally offers victims of serious crimes some real hope for justice after a half century of impunity.”