GICJ Participation at the 32nd Session of the Human Rights Council
The 32nd regular session of the Human Rights Council was held in Geneva from 13 June to 1 July 2016. The Council adopted 33 resolutions and one decision on a wide array of issues, and adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of 14 countries. The session was then resumed for one day on 8 July 2016 to confirm the appointment of five mandate holders.
“Do we still have an international community?” This fundamental question asked by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a global update delivered on 13 June 2016 echoes to the current and rapid dismemberment of our society. In times where unity should prevail, we see walls being put up where we managed to knock them down in the past.
The dire consequences of Iraq’s criminalization of the Baath Party
Subversion of political freedom, opening the floodgates of political targeting and the polarization of Iraqi societyThe Iraqi Parliament adopted a decree that criminalizes the existence of and belonging to the Arab Socialist Baath Party and bans the party and other even remotely similar groups from any political, social, intellectual or cultural activity across the country.
|Iraq - Incorporation of militias into regular armed forces
The road to chaos
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi establishes the militia organization called Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) as an independent military formation into Iraq’s military forces implementing the Office Order 91 issued on 24th February 2016.Read more...
|Iraq - Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code and ratification of death sentences under militias threats
The President of Iraq ratified an amendment to the Iraqi Criminal Procedure Code to expedite executions and pronounced a new batch of death sentences.Read more...
In collaboration with the United Nations, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), GICJ organized a Training Workshop on International Law, Human Rights and Justice Mechanisms for the period from 18th to 26th July 2016.
The Training took place in The Hague in the Netherlands and in Geneva, Switzerland.
The feedback of the participants was very positive and they generally conveyed that the training provided them with a lot of in-depth information on international law, human rights and justice mechanisms as well as excellent opportunities of witnessing the real-life application of such mechanisms. The participants found that visiting the ICJ, the ICC and the STL as well as the headquarters of the UN was also one of the most stimulating parts of the training and represented a valuable learning experience as well as a unique chance to see some of the most important international bodies to govern international relations and administer justice across the globe.
FALLUJAH: INSIDE THE GENOCIDE
A brief report on the dramatic human rights violations occurring inside and outside the city of Fallujah, Iraq
This report intends shedding light on the crimes and human rights violations which are taking place in Fallujah, Iraq. In May 2016, the city was, in fact, subjected to a wide military campaign under the pretext of fighting ISIS. Such destructive campaign, under the name of “Liberate Fallujah”, is proving deleterious for the thousands of people trapped in the city who are falling victims of the bombardments.
The Chilcot Inquiry : revelation or whitewash ?
On 6th July 2016, Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) has issued a statement in light of the long-awaited publication of the Report of the Iraqi Inquiry.
Among the key findings of the report were the fact that the UK chose to invade Iraq together with the Coalition “before all peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted”; military action was “not a last resort”; the formal decision to invade Iraq was based on flawed intelligence and assessments; and the UK had no credible evidence that Iraq had nuclear capabilities that constituted a direct threat to the UK or its citizenry.
The Human Rights Council concludes its 31st Session
Overview of GICJ participation
The 31st regular session of the Human Rights Council which was concluded on 24 March 2016 in Geneva, adopted on its last day, five resolutions under Human Rights Council agenda Item 7 related to the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories, and two resolutions on protecting human rights defenders and human rights in the context of peaceful protests.
Geneva International Centre for Justice actively participated at the 31st session of the Human Rights Council; GICJ submitted a number of written statements to the Council, delivered several oral statements and co-organized four side-events discussing the human rights situation in Iraq, Palestine and Yemen.
Mosul: the terrors of the “war on terror”
Though the past months have been particularly bloody, Mosul has been a theatre of horrors since the ISIS occupation in 2014. Since August 2014, our sources reported that an approximate number of 600 civilians (although it is very likely that the number is in truth much higher due to the difficulty in tracking the exact number of victims for each attack) lost their lives in the city by the hand of both ISIS fighters and the Coalition airstrikes against them.
GICJ has collected videos and other kinds of evidence, such as pictures, tweets, articles, videos and testimonies that reveal what is not covered by the media: an air campaign that targets civilian locations and results in the killing and harming of hundreds of people. This deliberate attempt of covering up such actions, that just simply amount to war crimes, in order to shift public opinion in favour of the anti-terrorist campaign happens at the expenses of Iraqi civilians and is somewhat regular.
Iraq: life on death row
On 11th May 2016, Geneva International Centre for Justice sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns, and finally to the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Ms. Mónica Pinto, in order to demand a prompt action concerning to the latest wave of execution that is taking place in Iraq.
On the 10th May 2016, in fact, Khalid al-Shawani, spokesman of the presidency, released a statement in which he announced the ratification by the president of a “batch” of death penalties that are due to be carried out at any time from now. This wave of executions follows many others, latest of which occurred on the 31st January 2016.
Syria: when the tragedy goes further
The destruction of Al-Quds hospital leaves 250,000 people in increasing danger of being left without medical care
The damaged Al-Quds hospital after the bombing- The doors and windows were covered by sandbags in an attempt to keep out bullets and shrapnel, but these provided no protection against air strikes.
28th April 2016 marks another sad date in the history of the already very bloody Syrian civil war. An airstrike was carried out on the al-Quds paediatric hospital in Aleppo, which resulted in the killing of at least 27 people, including three children and six staff members. The 34-bed hospital offered services including an emergency room, obstetric care, an outpatients department, an inpatients department, an intensive care unit and an operating theatre and was therefore a vital asset for the citizens.
25th Session of the UPR Working Group
Review of Sudan
United Nations - Geneva - 4 May 2016
The 25th session of the Universal Periodic Review working group (UPR) is taking place at the United Nations Offices in Geneva from 3 to 13 May 2016. During this second cycle of the UPR, the performance of Sudan towards its obligations in relation to human rights has been reviewed.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves an over all evalouation of the human rights records of all UN Member States. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, this exercise provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations. As one of the main features of the Council, the UPR is designed to ensure equal treatment for every country when their human rights situations are assessed.
The review of Sudan opened with the presentation of the National Report submitted by the Sudanese delegation, headed by Minister of Justice of Sudan Mr Awad Elhassan Elnour Khalifa followed by an interactive dialogue with the UN member states.
ISIS and other terrorist groups
GICJ in collaboration with the International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) and several other NGOs organized a side event during the 31st session of the Human Rights Council in the United Nations in Geneva on 16 March 2016 on the subject of ISIS and other terrorist groups. The panellists presented and described the most influential militias active in some Middle Eastern countries, and discussed the role played by regional powers in exporting terrorism through the provision of financial, military and intelligence support to them, and the responsibility of the international community regarding this phenomenon.
Presenting and elaborating on the most important terrorist groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and their extensions in other Arab countries, the distinguished panellists were: Mr Sabah Al-Mukhtar, President of the Arab Lawyers Association in the United Kingdom; Mr. Tahar Boumedra, former Chief of the Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI); Ambassador Mr Ibrahim al-Adoufi, former Permanent Representative of the Republic of Yemen in Geneva; and Mr. Struan Stevenson, former member of the European Parliament and President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.
IRAQ: Ethnic and Sectarian Cleansing In Diyala
Some of the key suspects of the crime of ethnic cleansing in the province of Diyala; from left to right: Prime Minister al-Abaddi, Iranian Quds forces general Qassem Suleimani and Former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Diyala province in Iraq witnessed an unprecedented increase in the displacement and killings of people on an ethnic and sectarian basis that has been taking place since the beginning of 2016.
GICJ has collected documented information and evidence in regards to these crimes, some of which have been obtained from people on the ground as well as members of the local authorities, emphasizing the active participation of the organs of power in the implementation of this heinous crime which is done due to the ethnic and religious background of the victims, the crime this time being directed intentionally against one specific category of people; the Sunni Arabs. This particular community is facing death, displacement and detention of hundreds of thousands of its members.
Geneva International Centre for Justice strongly accuses the government of Haider al-Abadi, of being legally responsible in being engaged unequivocally and intentionally in committing a crime of "ethnic cleansing" on the grounds of ethnicity and religion in the Diyala province of the Republic of Iraq.
GICJ side event on
The Human Rights situation in Iraq
GICJ organized a side event on 10 March 2016 during the 31st session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations Offices in Geneva, Switzerland, chaired by Mr Jan Lönn.
The aim of such event was that of addressing two particular phenomena that highly affect the population of Iraq, and that themselves constitute a grave breach of human rights States obligations: mass displacement and torture.
Although such issues have largely been debated and documented in the past, not only by GICJ, but by many other human rights organizations, nonetheless, with this side event we wanted to highlight the immense importance of continuing to tackle these violations since they are still ongoing at present, and we wanted to do so by providing the perspectives and opinions, the knowledge and personal experiences of two prominent speakers: Mr. Ali Shallal Al Qaysi, a survivor of inhuman torture practices within Abu Ghraib prison and Mr. Mostafa Kamel a noticeable journalist as well as the editor in chief of wijhatnadhar online platform.
Roundtable Discussion on the International Legal Issues Surrounding the Funding and Arming of Rebel Groups in Yemen
Geneva, 23 December 2015
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) and the London Centre for International Law Practice (LCILP) convened a roundtable of experts to discuss the international legal issues surrounding the funding and arming of rebel groups in Yemen, as part of a joint event series entitled International Legal and Humanitarian Issues surrounding conflicts in the Middle East.
The roundtable coincided with the conclusion of the most recent peace negotiations, which commenced on 15 December, relating to the ongoing conflict between the internationally recognised Government of Yemen and armed Houthi rebels. Peace talks will resume on 14 January 2016.
Ensuring accountability and justice for the people of Palestine
On 3 July 2015, the Human Rights Council adopted a resolution titled “ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of international law in OPT, inc. East Jerusalem”. The resolution came after the discussion on 29 June 2015 of the report submitted by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry. The commission’s report is clear and thorough in its account of the violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in the context of the conflict between 13 June and 26 August of 2014 in the Gaza strip. The commission clearly pointed out the responsibility of both political and military leaders for the violations of international law which tantamount to war crimes. The inclusion of this overall observation serves the purpose of singling out top Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Executions in Iraq, sectarian reprisals under combating terrorism?
Geneva, 3 February 2016
Iraqi president Fuad Masum again, rushed to authorize a third batch of
death sentences against innocent civilians convicted on terrorism
charges and signaled upon relevant authorities for immediate execution.
Authorities that often ignore international voices that condemn the
death sentence and call for its immediate cease.
The Iraqi judicial system does not adhere to the basic international standards required for fair trial, and accepts inadmissible confessions extracted under torture while, using the death penalty within the pretext of fighting terrorism as means of revenge against opponents, and on political or sectarian grounds.
The Centre maintains to acknowledge that Mr Masum recognizes the unfairness, and continues to ratify death sentences, thinking that he will not be held accountable for the murder of hundreds of innocent Iraqi civilians who would have under the conditions of a fair trial faced a different verdict.
New torture Images Out: Will the United States Government Ratify its Obligations?
Geneva, 2 February 2016
-After 12 years of legal and political battles, the Pentagon will finally publish pictures showing the atrocities committed against detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan during the two wars that were launched by the United States against them.
-The American Civil Liberties Association announced on Wednesday that the US Department of Defence (Pentagon) is to publish 198 images depicting ill treatment of detainees.
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) has continued to bring forward the issue of torture to major international bodies including the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Committee Against Torture and calls upon the international community to take all necessary action to bring the perpetrators of such heinous crimes to justice.
The Human Rights Council concludes its 30th session
Oral statements delivered by GICJ
The Human Rights Council concluded its 30th session on 2 October 2015. GICJ participated actively in the session by delivering oral statements on the case of Palestine and Iraq and co-organised a side event on Human Rights in Palestine.
GICJ delivered three oral statements under agenda item 3, 4 and 7 of the Human Rights Council's agenda, and called the international community to address the root of the refugee crisis facing Europe, which is directly linked to the deteriorating human rights situation facing both Syria and Iraq. The prevailing impunity that has became the norm rather than the exception even for grave human rights violation in both these countries should no longer be tolerated.
Human Rights in Palestine
The situation in Jerusalem
In light of recent developments in Jerusalem and in particular the mounting tension and violence at Al Aqsa, GICJ in cooperation with Qudsona Organisation for Human Rights, International Forum for Democracy and Human Rights, Meezaan Association for Human Rights and Union of Arab Jurists, organised a side event at the United Nations on wednesday 30 September 2015 to facilitate a focused discussion on the ongoing violations against the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. This timely event coincided with the day the Palestinian flag was raised at UN headquarters in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The distinguished panellists of this event were: Mr Omer Khamisi, from the Meezan Association for Human Rights; Mr Issa Amro, OHCHR human rights defender of the year in Palestine 2009; Dr. Durgham Saif, from the Qudsona Organisation for Human Rights and Mr. Toby Cadman, from the International Forum of Democracy and Human Rights. The event was moderated by Ms. Daniela Donges, President of the Scales for Justice organisation.
GICJ participation at the 56th Session of the CESCR
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has
concluded its 56th session on 9 October 2015 and issued its concluding
observations on the report of Iraq.
The Committee expressed its concerns on many issues pertaining to the access and enjoyment by the people of Iraq of their economic, social and cultural rights.
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) participated in the review of Iraq and has submitted to the Committee its shadow report on the economic, social and cultural rights in Iraq.
Ms Eleanor McClelland presented the report on behalf of GICJ and delivered another statement at the Committee's plenary session.
In its report GICJ explained in details the failure of the Iraqi successive governments since 2003 to achieve any progress in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. On the contrary, the report stated clearly the deterioration of all these rights to very disturbing levels despite the overwhelming increase in Iraqi income from the sales of its oil after the lifting of the sanctions on the same year.
Click on "read more" to access the full text of the statement and GICJ report to the Committee as well as details about the concluding observations by the Committee.
Enforced Disappearances in Iraq: A widespread challenge
GICJ shadow report to the 9th session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances
Geneva - 14 September 2015
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) is participating in the review of Iraq at the 9th session of the United Nations Committee on Enforced disappearances, from 7 to 18 September 2015 and has submitted to the Committee its shadow report on Enforced Disappearances in Iraq, expressing its grave concern about the ongoing, widespread and systematic practice of arbitrary arrest and abduction by the Iraqi authorities and its affiliated militias which in most cases result in enforced disappearances.
Overview of GICJ activities on Palestine
GICJ Urgent Appeals on Palestine:
- A match in the powder keg: The occupying force continues to contravene international law - April 2014
Iraq: Widespread use of torture & ill-treatment
Hans von Sponeck: We appeal, first and foremost, to the conscience of governments and civil society but also to their legal-mindedness not to accept impunity any longer.
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) is participating in the review of Iraq at the 55th session of the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT), from 27 July to 14 August 2015.
GICJ has submitted to the Committee its shadow report on torture in Iraq expressing its grave concern about the continued and widespread use of torture by different actors in the country.
GICJ has gathered extensive torture evidence. It has repeatedly brought such evidence to the attention of the United Nations Human Rights Council. GICJ therefore welcomes the review of Iraq’s record by the Committee against Torture, and hopes that the Committee will be able to take all actions within its power to seek an end to the use of torture in Iraq.
Swimming Against the Tides
Examining the EU Response to Irregular Migration through the Mediterranean Sea
Geneva International Centre for Justice released on 27 July 2015 its report ‘Swimming Against the Tides: Examining the EU Response to Irregular Migration through the Mediterranean Sea.’ GICJ has been following closely the recent developments at the European Commission with regards to irregular migration. GICJ wishes to highlight with this report the underlying causes of the crisis and the necessary steps that have to be taken to reach a sustainable solution.
GICJ concludes its report by recommending a number of steps to be taken by the EU for a comprehensive migration policy that must have provisions for tackling the root causes of migration such as underdevelopment, poverty and war. In dealing with underdevelopment, aid efforts are not undercut by economic policies and partnerships that impoverish the African continent, as well as other developing nation.
Thousands of Lives Hang in the Balance
GICJ appeals to the UN regarding executions in Iraq
- Iraq - Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code and ratification of death sentences under militias threats - 20 July 2016
- Urgent Appeal: Terror in the Name of Anti-Terrorism - 27 November 2013
- Urgent Appeal regarding mass executions in Iraq - 22 October 2013
GICJ & UNDP workshop on Strengthening Participatory and Accountable Governance concluded
Geneva – 27 February 2015
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), organised a workshop on strengthening the operational, legislative, outreach, and oversight capabilities of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, as part of the United Nations Development Programme project on “Strengthening Participatory and Accountable Governance”. The five-day programme took place at Warwick Hotel in Geneva, from 22 to 26 February 2015.
The aim of the programme was to present participants to internationally-renowned experts’ experience and knowledge, on the role of Parliament in the protection of human rights, promoting inclusiveness, and participation of civil society in legislative and oversight processes.
U.S Continues Leading From Behind
Universal Periodic Review reveals longstanding unwillingness to fully commit to obligations of pertinent human rights treaties
On 11 May 2015, the United States of America participated in its second Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Universal Periodic Review is meant to be a mechanism by which all UN Member States are periodically assessed on their human rights record. The process allows countries to present a report of their efforts to promote and improve human rights within their country. It also affords the Working Group of the UPR, comprised of member countries of the Human Rights Council, the opportunity to assess the human rights record, ask questions, and provide recommendations.
The United States of America Presentation
The United States Permanent Representative at the United Nations Office, Ambassador Keith Harper, began the session by introducing the American delegation. He pointed to the strong delegation of senior officials from eight federal agencies and one state government as a testament to the United States’ commitment and respect for the UPR process. Mr. Harper explained that the United States is both proud of its human rights record and mindful of the challenges that remain.
GICJ urges UN to protect peaceful demonstrators in Iraq
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Human Rights Training Courses
Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) agrees with the United Nations’ acknowledgement of the “fundamental importance of human rights education and training in contributing to the promotion, protection and effective realization of all human rights.” Following this belief and desire GICJ offers Human Rights Training Courses.
Selected articles and opinions by GICJ collaborators and supporters
GICJ Latest Oral Statements at the Human Rights Council
Oral Statement delivered at the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council - Agenda Item 7
Link to other GICJ Oral Statements at the HRC
GICJ Side-events at the HRC
Palestinian Refugees in Diaspora and their Right of Return, Where to?
Watch other Side-events organised or co-organised by GICJ
GICJ President videos
Dr. Hans von Sponeck - World Against War Conference; on the war against Iraq
Other statements by GICJ President, Dr. H.-C. von Sponeck
Documentaries and other relevant videos
Fallujah, The Hidden Massacre
Other documentaries and relevant videos
Accountability and Justice for Iraq
GICJ documents human rights violations that take place in Iraq and reports them to the concerned bodies of the United Nations such as the Human Rights Council and the UN Special Procedures. The aim of this process is to ensure that all human rights violations in Iraq during the sanctions, the invasion and the occupation be investigated by an international independent body as a step to achieve justice for victims through all possible legal means, and to prevent impunity for the perpetrators and stop similar violations.
In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, GICJ is working in collaboration with a coalition of 300 NGOs, as well as multiple research centres and universities throughout Iraq and the world. GICJ also participates in the realization of the above mentioned objective by submitting reports to the Human Rights Council covering the Human Rights situation in Iraq; delivering oral statements to the Human Rights Council; organising or co-organising side-events, conferences and roundtables; and delivering Human Rights training courses.
Internship and Volunteer Opportunities
GICJ is offering opportunities to those experienced and highly motivated interns or volunteers to help in implementing its programmes and activities, in the fields of international law, international human rights law, journalism, social media, administration and fund raising.
It will be an opportunity to gain insights knowledge, professional experience, learn more about the United Nations and the applications of human rights and international law, Improve their research and writing skills and Improve their ability to speak at meetings and conferences.
Selected articles by GICJ President
Dr. H.-C. von Sponeck, Former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, President of Geneva International Centre for Justice.
- Let us no longer keep silent about torture!
- 12 years after the invasion
- Iraq what next?
- Iraq and the Betrayal of a People – Impunity Forever? by Dr. H.C. von Sponeck
- After the journey — a UN man’s open letter to Tony Blair
- Justice For Whom? The Fate of Tariq Aziz in Iraq
- Open Letter to Madame Louise Arbour
- Book Review: Hans von Sponeck's A Different Kind of War: The UN Sanctions Regime in Iraq
- United Nations implications in war crimes