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On Libya & ISIS, ICC Passes Buck to States, Q of Palestine & Sangaris Rapes

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 12 -- When International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the UN Security Council about Libya on May 12, she put the onus on member states to go after their own nationals who join ISIS there or elsewhere. But there were questions.

  Bensouda said, "I have also taken note of this Council's call for accountability for the use of violence against civilians and civilian institutions by groups purportedly claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, or Daesh. My Office considers that ICC jurisdiction over Libya prima facie extends to such alleged crimes. I recall however the principle that States, in the first instance, bear the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute their nationals who have joined forces with ISIL/Daesh and are alleged to be commitment Rome Statute crimes."

  In the speeches that followed, Venezuela complained of ICC only half-acting in Libya - and NOT acting on Palestine.

 One also wondered: with the ICC having opened an investigation into the Central African Republic, would Bensouda assert jurisdiction over the alleged conflict related sexual abuse by French soldiers in the Sangaris force there of CAR children as young as nine? We'll see.

  The day before on May 11, as the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini prepared to brief the UN Security Council on the EU's proposal to try to stop unauthorized migration to Europe from Libya, Angola's Permanent Representative Ismael A. Gaspar Martins stopped and told the press that you don't deal with refugees with bombs.

  So when Mogherini came to take questions at the Security Council stakeout, Inner City Press with hand raised sought to ask her about this view. Video here and embedded below.

  After questions were handed to Reuters, two Italian media and the New York Times, and Agence France Presse got a question answered by blurting it out, Inner City Press asked about Angola's view.

 Mogherini told Inner City Press, "we discussed this and share the view that there is no military solution."

   Inner City Press said, what about attack helicopters?

  Mogherini said, "We're talking about a naval operation."

  But that of course can involve military force, including airstrikes by attack helicopters. But no follow-up was possible. While an African journalist had his hand up the whole time, more Italian journalists were called. A Kurdish journalist who asked about Iraq was told by Mogherini that she only answers on topic.

  Afterward, as before, Mogherini did a separate stakeout only for Italian media, Inner City Press tweeted photo here, rebuffing the only question asked in English, then leaving.

 The Free UN Coalition for Access is troubled by this continued approach.

 Back on April 28 when Mogherini came to take questions outside the Security Council, it was announced that after the "international" media, she would do a separate stakeout just for media from her native Italy.

  Then the questions handpicked for Mogherini were all Western and Gulf (Saudi), particularly on the issue of Iran. An Iranian journalist was rejected. Chosen were Reuters, NYT, BBC jumping in and France 24, specifically selected, with a copycat Libya question.

  At the end - or, before the Italian only stakeout -- Inner City Press asked, Sudan, Burundi, anything? But there was not. Nor on Western Sahara, on which EU members earlier on April 28 pushed a resolution without human rights monitoring for a UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO.

 On Sudan, the questions are obvious: over 90% vote for al Bashir, cover up of Tabit rapes. But in Burundi, the EU's Patrick Spirlet has been quoted that the EU will give 80 elections observers - even as radio stations are closed and people killed. What's the answer?

Maybe they're just getting it together.

 The Security Council - with its EU members - will hear about Burundi on April 28. Watch this site.

(The new Free UN Coalition for Access challenges such one-sided use of the UN Security Council stakeout. The old UNCA, UN's Censorship Alliance, won't. It is run by Giampaolo Pioli of Italy.)

 On April 27 Inner City Press asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq, and got in response an "if-asked." Transcript here

Inner City Press:  On Burundi, over the weekend, the ruling party nominated the current president for a third… to run for a third term.  And there have been crackdowns by the police, the closure of a radio station, Radio Public Africaine, and others… I'm wondering other countries have spoken.  What is the UN's response to what's happened?

Deputy Spokesman Haq:  Yeah, we're following the situation in Burundi very closely and we're deeply concerned over the violence over the weekend, including of a number of deaths following the announcement that the president would seek a third term and we urge a swift investigation into the violence.  Said Djinnit, the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes is in Bujumbura to convey the UN’s concerns and work with all parties on defusing tensions.

  Perhaps as Ban does more and more, he will "outsource" the rest of the UN's reaction to Geneva, while he for example cavorts with those who, like in Burundi, go after independent journalists.

  In Burundi, the RPA was raided and told to stop live-streaming the crackdown.

 Where is the UN Security Council, and its "pen-holder" on Burundi, on this?


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