Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, concerning referral from the Gabonese Republic (29.09.2016)

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On 21 September 2016, I received a referral from the Government of the Gabonese Republic regarding the situation in Gabon since May 2016 with no end-date. In reference to article 14 of the Rome Statute, Rule 45 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence and Regulation 25(1)(b) of the Regulations of the Office of the Prosecutor, the Government of the Gabonese Republic requests the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) “to open an investigation without delay”.

In accordance with the requirement of the Rome Statute my Office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met. A preliminary examination is not an investigation but a process of examining the information available in order to reach a fully informed determination on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation pursuant to the criteria established by the Rome Statute.

Specifically, under article 53(1) of the Rome Statute, as Prosecutor, I must consider issues of jurisdiction, admissibility and the interests of justice in making this determination. The Office gives due consideration to all submissions and views conveyed to it during the course of a preliminary examination, strictly guided by the requirements of the Rome Statute and in the independent and impartial exercise of its mandate.

My Office will examine information regarding crimes allegedly committed by any groups or individuals involved in the situation. Where a referral is accompanied by supporting documentation that identifies potential perpetrators, my Office is not bound or constrained by the information contained therein when conducting investigations in order to determine whether specific persons should be charged. After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course.

The Gabonese Republic is a State Party to the Rome Statute, and as such, the ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed on the territory or by nationals of Gabon since 1 July 2002, the date when the Statute entered into force in Gabon.

Referral under Article 14 of the Rome Statute submitted by the Gabonese Republic

Power of Attorney

For background, see The Office of the Prosecutor’s Policy Paper on Preliminary Examinations, November 2013, particularly par. 27

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecution of the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Office has been conducting investigations in: Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two separate investigations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Georgia. The Office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan; Burundi; the registered vessels of Comoros, Greece and Cambodia; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; Palestine, Nigeria and Ukraine.

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Bongo hints at including opposition in new government (Youtube-Clip)

“In Gabon, President Ali Bongo is looking to form a new government, after the constitutional court declared him the winner of the disputed presidential election. Bongo says he would “most likely” include his political opponents in the new administration. But the opposition continues to reject his victory. Thuli Tshabalala has more” (CCTV Africa, 2016).

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the situation in the Gabonese Republic (23.09.2016)

Gabon Parliament

The Secretary-General underlines that those who instigate or commit violence must be held accountable.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 23, 2016 – As the Constitutional Court of the Gabonese Republic prepares to make its ruling on the disputes emanating from the presidential election of 27 August 2016, the Secretary-General calls on the authorities, including the security agencies, to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms during this challenging period.

The Secretary-General strongly urges all actors, in particular the political leaders and their followers, to exercise maximum restraint, refrain from any form of violence and remain calm ahead of and after the Court’s ruling. Any additional loss of life in Gabon is unacceptable. It is the responsibility of the authorities and political leaders to ensure that the violence witnessed after the announcement of the provisional results of the presidential election on 31 August is not repeated.

The Secretary-General underlines that those who instigate or commit violence must be held accountable. Disagreements between the parties should be expressed peacefully.

The Secretary-General encourages the victorious candidate will engage in genuine national dialogue towards inclusive democratic governance and the rule of law, including reforms in the management of future elections. The United Nations stands ready to support these efforts.

Burundi: EU renews sanctions until 31 October 2017 (20.09.2016)

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These measures consist of a travel ban and asset freeze against four persons whose activities were deemed to be undermining democracy or obstructing the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi.

BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 20, 2016 – On 20 September 2016, the Council renewed the EU restrictive measures against Burundi until 31 October 2017. These measures consist of a travel ban and asset freeze against four persons whose activities were deemed to be undermining democracy or obstructing the search for a political solution to the crisis in Burundi. These activities include acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence, and acts which constitute serious human rights violations.

The EU has repeatedly and continuously called on all parties to refrain from, and to condemn, any acts of violence. This is essential if the conditions for progress in the search for a political solution to the crisis are to be put in place and maintained.

The Council considered that the absence of progress in the situation regarding the four persons under restrictive measures justified the prolongation of the sanctions.

The names of the persons concerned and the reasons for listing them are included in the annex to the decision of 1 October 2015 published in the Official Journal.

295 000 refugees flee violence in Burundi (Youtube-Clip)

“A year after political violence erupted in Burundi, nearly 300 000 people have fled to neighboring Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo. More than half of those fleeing are women and children who must start their lives over in foreign lands with little more than the basic necessities they fled with.  Life in the refugee camps is a daily challenge for women and girls. They face not only food shortage and poverty, but also higher rates of sexual and domestic violence, and increased chances of early marriage. UN Women sets up “Safe Spaces” in refugee camps to offer income opportunities and business training for women, as well as psycho-social counselling and trauma assistance” (United Nations, 2016)

EU Court of Justice Advocate General Finds that Western Sahara not part of EU-Morocco Trade Deal (14.09.2016)

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Communique: 624th PSC Meeting on the post- electoral situation in Gabon (14.09.2016)

Gabon Election

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), at its 624th Meeting, held on 13 September 2016, adopted the following decision on the post- electoral situation in Gabon:

Council:

  1. Takes Note of the briefing made by the Commissioner for Peace and Security on the latest developments in the situation in Gabon, following the proclamation of the provisional results of the Presidential Election held in that country on 27 August 2016. Council Welcomes the outcome of the Mission undertaken by the Commissioner for Peace and Security to Libreville and Ndjamena from 8 to 10 September 2016, particularly to consult the Gabonese stakeholders about the envisaged visit to the country of a high-level delegation composed of African Heads of State, led by the Current Chairman of the African Union, H.E. President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad;
  2. Recalls the Press Statement PSC/PR/BR.DCXX of its 620th Meeting held on 2 September 2016. Council, reaffirming its commitment to the sovereignty of Gabon, recalls also the relevant provisions, among others, of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, the Protocol Relating to Establishment of the Peace and Security Council and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;
  3. Welcomes the initiatives taken by the Current Chairman of the AU, H.E. Idriss Deby Itno, as well as the Chairperson of the Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the search for an early resolution of the post-electoral situation in Gabon, in respect of the will of the Gabonese people as expressed on 27 August 2016. Council expresses its appreciation to the countries of the region, through the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), as well as to the partners, in particular the United Nations, for their continued support to AU efforts in Gabon;
  4. Takes Note, with satisfaction, of the appeal lodged with the Constitutional Court by the candidates to the Presidential Election, thus using legal and constitutional means as provided for the resolution of any dispute related to the result of the ballot;
  5. Stresses the importance of the conclusion of the appeals process submitted by the candidates to the presidential election, in a transparent and regular manner, thus contributing to the entrenchment of democracy in Gabon, as well as to promotion of peace and stability in the country and in the region. Council requests the Commission, in close cooperation with the partners concerned, and within the respect of the sovereignty of Gabon, to support the relevant Gabonese institutions in their efforts aimed at enhancing the transparency and credibility of the review process, as well as the proclamation of the final results of the Presidential Election of 27 August 2016 by the Constitutional Court;
  6. Requests the Commission to deploy observers, who will be chosen from among eminent members of high African French speaking jurisdictions, to assist the Constitutional Court of Gabon, in accordance with the modalities to be determined by common agreement with the said Court, as well as in compliance with the rules of procedure and the relevant provisions of title VI of the Gabonese Constitution;
  7. Appeals to the partners to continue to support AU’s initiatives in Gabon;
  8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Blood stains, shuttered glass left over after raid on Jean Ping’s campaign headquarters (Youtube-Clip)

“The headquarters of Gabon’s opposition presidential candidate Jean Ping is a strew of broken glass and smashed furniture as a result of a raid on the office last Wednesday by security forces. The raid was said to have happened late Wednesday evening after the declaration of Ali Bongo as winner of the poll” (AfricaNews, 2016)

Statement by the Secretary-General on the situation in the Gabonese Republic (01.09.2016)

Gabon Parliament

I understand the frustration of the Gabonese people, and especially the youth.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 1, 2016 – I am deeply concerned and saddened about the crisis in the Gabonese Republic provoked by the electoral crisis, in particular the arson attacks and disproportionate response of security agencies that has led to unfortunate loss of life and property.

I understand the frustration of the Gabonese people, and especially the youth, who  aspire to better living conditions and democratic reforms. The new government will have to take into account this message and the UN will be there to support these efforts.

It is essential that all political actors and the people of the Gabonese Republic exercise restraint and overcome their differences by peaceful means in the interest of national unity. 

I call on the government to immediately restore communications, especially the Internet, SMS and the independent radio and television.

I also call on the security forces to exercise the utmost restraint and to uphold international standards of human rights. I urge the authorities to release political detainees immediately and unconditionally. Those responsible for acts or incitement to violence will be held accountable.

The UN supports the call of regional and international observers for a transparent verification of election results. I call on the responsible institutions to deal swiftly, transparently and fairly with all complaints related to the presidential election. The Gabonese people deserve a credible electoral process.

Concerned over Arson, Clashes in Gabon following Provisional Election Results, Secretary-General Calls on Political Leaders to Address Differences Peacefully (31.08.2016)

Gabon Parliament

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

The Secretary-General takes note of the provisional results of the presidential election announced today by the Ministry of Interior of Gabon. He expresses his deep concern about the reported acts of arson and clashes between protesters and security forces in the capital Libreville.

The Secretary-General urges all concerned political leaders and their supporters to refrain from further acts that could undermine the peace and stability of the country. He also calls on the authorities to ensure that the national security forces exercise maximum restraint in their response to protests. He reiterates his call on all political leaders to address their differences peacefully and to address any disputes they may have through existing constitutional and legal channels.

The Secretary-General has requested his Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, to accompany the political stakeholders in Gabon in their efforts to calm the situation and to peacefully resolve the contentious issues emanating from the electoral process.

The Secretary-General will continue to monitor the situation closely.