ICC Office of Prosecutor invites public comment on draft Policy on Children

draftpolicyIt is my great honor to note today’s release for public comment of the draft Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.

Since my December 2012 appointment as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I’ve had the privilege of helping to convene consultations and taking part in the construction of this draft Policy. As part of that process, as noted on page 11 of the draft, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, were honored in October 2014 to host the Prosecutor, members of her staff, and nearly 2 dozen other experts from academic, nongovernmental groups, and intergovernmental organizations. Our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference featured a morning public plenary and Prosecutor’s keynote (pictured below), followed by an afternoon of closed-door breakout sessions. (Proceedings from that event, to appear in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, are nearing publication.)

Addressed in the draft Policy, which spans 37 pages, are:

► Overarching concerns, such as the nature of a child and childhood, the experiences of children in armed conflict and other contexts within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and how the Rome Statute of the ICC and other documents treat crimes against and affecting children; and

► Practical concerns, such as how the Office of the Prosecutor engages with children, in all aspects of its work, including preliminary examination, investigation, charging, prosecution, sentencing, reparations, and external relations.

As stated in the press release accompanying today’s publication:

In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed 8_events2the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”

The Office welcomes public comment on the draft. Such comments should be e-mailed to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, no later than Friday, August 5, 2016.

Following revisions based on the comments, the Office of the Prosecutor expects to publish the final Policy on Children in November of this year.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Visit from LL.M. alumnus sheds light on in-court Congolese child-rights project

kabuyaD3_17aug15A favorite aspect of my new position is becoming acquainted with Georgia Law’s vast global community.

Yesterday was a special treat: We at the law school’s Dean Rusk International Law Center received a visit from an alum who is doing great work back home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The alumnus is Mukendi Kabuya, who earned an LL.M. degree here in 2010. He’s now an attorney at Kinshasa’s Delt-August Law Firm, where his practice includes international investment, immigration, and business matters.

Last year, Mukendi co-founded a child-rights nonprofit modeled on the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, where he used to work. CASA Democratic Republic of Congo is based in Kinshasa, but works throughout the country to provide in-court assistance to abused and neglected children – including children who have survived armed conflict and similar violence. This critical effort comes at a critical time: Congo’s juvenile justice system is very young. Before it was established, children found themselves relegated to the adult system.

While here, Mukendi, who is President of the Africa Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association, stopped by the university’s African Studies Institute. And he talked about his work and career with Georgia Law’s newest LL.M. students, who begin classes today. He’s pictured above talking with two just-enrolled students from Nigeria, Gladys Ashiru, at left, and Oluwakemi “Kemi” Kusemiju.

Looking forward to the next visit from this impressive alum.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Judge’s Order in Flores Should Signal the End of Family Detention in the United States

A federal judge issued an order in the Flores case that should go a long way to ending the government’s practice of detaining children and their mothers in unlicensed, secure facilities in Dilley and Karnes, Texas. Since the summer of 2014, the government has detained thousands of women and children fleeing violence in Central America. The longstanding Flores settlement guarantees minimum standards for the detention, release, and treatment of children in immigration detention. These standards, the court concluded, are not being met.

The judge’s order came after settlement negotiations between the parties failed earlier in July. The judge gave a withering critique of the government’s argument that the terms of the original Flores v. Reno 1997 settlement agreement only apply to unaccompanied minors, finding that the terms of the agreement plainly apply to “all minors.” Under the settlement, children generally must be released from custody.

Moreover, the judge said that the government “must release an accompanying parent as long as doing so would not create a flight risk or a safety risk.” There should be few cases in which a mother should not be released with her child. Almost all of the mothers currently detained are fleeing threats of violence and persecution in their home countries and are seeking asylum and other humanitarian protection here in the United States. They lack criminal records and have every incentive to appear for future court dates given that a clear majority of them have credible claims to asylum.

The judge also weighed in on short-term detention facilities, finding that the government had materially breached the agreement to provide “safe and sanitary” holding cells for children following their arrest. The freezing concrete cells, known as “hieleras,” or ice boxes, are unsanitary, overcrowded, and deprive children of adequate nutrition or hygiene.

What remains to be seen is how the government will respond to the court’s order. The government has until August 3 to submit papers to the court explaining why the ruling should not be implemented within the next few months; the government also may appeal the Judge’s decision. Given the harmful effects of continued detention—which include mental and physical harms—many advocates are hopeful that the government will choose to comply with the order promptly.

In anticipation of releasing children and mothers, the government should be taking steps to make sure that proper release practices are developed and implemented. Unfortunately, over the past couple of weeks, advocates witnessed chaos, disorganization, and coercion surrounding releases stemming from Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson’s June 24 announcement that women who passed an initial interview to establish their eligibility for protection under U.S. immigration law would be released.

Today, the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono project partners, who provide pro bono representation to women and children currently detained in Dilley and Karnes, Texas, called on Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, Sarah Saldaña, to take immediate steps to remedy the situation. It is critically important that measures are in place to ensure that the mothers fully understand their rights and obligations upon release, to ensure their future appearance in immigration court and their timely filing of claims for protection in the United States.

As we see the light at the end of the long, dark tunnel of family detention, let’s make sure that the government goes about this the right way.

(Cross-Posted from Immigration Impact)

 

International Perspectives and Empirical Findings on Child Participation: from Social Exclusion to Child-Inclusive Policies (Oxford 2015)

Cover for<br /><br />
International Perspectives and Empirical Findings on Child Participation<br /><br />
Edited by Tali Gal & Benedetta Faedi Duramy

The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child has inspired advocates and policy makers across the globe, injecting children’s rights terminology into various public and private arenas. Children’s right to participate in decision-making processes affecting their lives is the acme of the Convention and its central contribution to the children’s rights discourse. At the same time the participation right presents enormous challenges in its implementation. Laws, regulations and mechanisms addressing children’s right to participate in decision-making processes affecting their lives have been established in many jurisdictions across the globe. Yet these worldwide developments have only rarely been accompanied with empirical investigations. The effectiveness of various policies in achieving meaningful participation for children of different ages, cultures and circumstances have remained largely unproven empirically. Therefore, with the growing awareness of the importance of evidence-based policies, it becomes clear that without empirical investigations on the implementation of children’s right to participation it is difficult to promote their effective inclusion in decision making.

This book provides a much-needed, first broad portrayal of how child participation is implemented in practice today. Bringing together 19 chapters written by prominent authors from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Israel, the book includes descriptions of programs that engage children and youth in decision-making processes, as well as insightful findings regarding what children, their families, and professionals think about these programs. Beyond their contribution to the empirical evidence on ways children engage in decision-making processes, the volume’s chapters contribute to the theoretical development of the meaning of “participation,” “citizenship,” “inclusiveness,” and “relational rights” in regards to children and youth. There is no matching to the book’s scope both in terms of its breadth of subjects and the diversity of jurisdictions it covers. The book’s chapters include experiences of child participation in special education, child protection, juvenile justice, restorative justice, family disputes, research, and policy making.

The book is available on Oxford University Press and Amazon.

Briefing: Torture & children deprived of liberty

mendezAll who care about children and international law will want to register for “Torture of Children Deprived of Liberty: Avenues for Advocacy,” “a global online briefing” to be hosted at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time next Tuesday, May 5, by the Anti-Torture Initiative of the D.C.-based Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law.

Panelists will include:

Juan E. Méndez, American University law professor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, and author of the 2015 thematic report on children deprive of liberty, which will form the core of the discussion (credit for photo of Méndez delivering this report to the U.N. Human Rights Council last month)

Jo Becker, Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch

Ian M. Kysel, Dash/Muse Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Law, Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute

► Dr. Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Vice Chairperson of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and of the African Committee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, as well as  a law professor at the University of Western Cape in South Africa, and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia

Registration and further information here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

“How can I face a child today knowing what I know?”: Angry plea to end violence

UntitledIt is the season of renewal, of anticipating the year to come. It is a time for revelry, but also for reflection. And reflection on this past year forces one to confront the grim reality of harms humans have wreaked upon other humans – on women, men, and children.

It is this last group of victims on which I have focused, in my service as International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda‘s Special Adviser on Children in and Affected by Armed Conflict. Bensouda’s office has worked this year to  prepare a Policy Paper on Children, and this year the ICC Appeals Chamber sustained the court’s first conviction, against a militia leader responsible for child-soldiering crimes. But this year also saw untold crimes against chil

dren – not only tragically quotidian crimes of domestic abuse, but also spectacular outrages like last week’s lethal attack on a school in Pakistan, and the several instances of girls’ abduction or enslavement by groups like ISIS and Boko Haram.

It is this last group of victims, moreover, that this year spurred digital artist Corinne Whitaker to publish “Cradle Song,” an online book featuring images and poetry that she created. (As I’ve posted, Whitaker is the longtime publisher of a monthly webzine, Digital Giraffe, as well as the sister of colleague Ed Gordon.)

“Cradle Song” features pages of images like the one above, juxtaposed with verse-form text. “How can I face a child / today / knowing what I know?” it begins, then continues with angry, taut descriptions of what she knows – of, that is, the awful ways that armed violence affects children. Her refrain of questions – among them, “Why doesn’t someone / anyone / care?” – reminds us that we do, we must, care. And in this time of renewal, we must resolve to act.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

ICC Prosecutor on “Children and International Criminal Justice”

bensouda6_28oct14This silver anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child seems a fitting day to report on the “Children & International Criminal Justice,” the conference that brought to Athens, Georgia, more than 2 dozen experts from as far away as Doha, Kinshasa, and The Hague.

The experts met on October 28 at my home institution, the University of Georgia School of Law, to discuss, in a plenary session and in workshops, the experiences of children during armed violence, as well as the treatment of children and children’s issues by international criminal justice mechanisms. (Prior post) The conference served as one of several consultations being undertaken by the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor as part of its preparation of a Policy Paper on Children – a process I am honored to assist as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda‘s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict.

A centerpiece of the day was the keynote speech delivered by Prosecutor Bensouda (above). She began with a quote from a renowned humanitarian:

The Great Nelson Mandela once said: ‘We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.’

bensouda4_28oct14Bensouda then urged the assembly, which included hundreds of professors and students, members of her staff, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations and U.N. agencies:

We must indeed pool our efforts, expertise and energies to advance the rights of children and to shield them from harm in times of conflict.

She detailed the efforts of her Office on behalf of children – including the successful prosecution of former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo on child-soldiering charges, as well as the current prosecution of his erstwhile co-accused, Bosco Ntaganda, on additional charges of sexual violence against children in his militia. Conviction in the latter case, Bensouda said, would

represent an important, pioneering clarification of the protection international humanitarian law offers to children and the victims of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict.

wkshop_28oct14The Prosecutor underscored her Office’s commitment to the Children’s Convention’s 4 “guiding principles” when she said:

We are also committed of respecting the rights of children with whom we interact in the course of our investigative and prosecutorial work, including their right to be heard and to have their best interests treated as a primary consideration.

The transcript of her remarks as delivered is available here; the full speech is scheduled for publication next year, in Volume 43, issue 3, of the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Halloween and children, revisited

It’s Halloween, a day when costumes conjure playfulness among children and adults alike. To celebrate, I’m reprinting below my post from October 31, 2010, available in the IntLawGrrls archives here. The donation link at bottom still works, so consider a contribution on behalf of the world’s children.

Often completing this ‘Grrl’s Halloween costume was the tote at left.
Many a year we Midwestern children would knock on doors to “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” seeking donations to help the United Nations help children in need. For many of us, it was an early raising of awareness — an early invitation to consider how we might respond in our own small ways to the plight of others throughout the world.
Of great interest, therefore, was the news that the woman who founded the campaign has died at age 93, just a few days short of the 60th anniversary of her achievement.
As detailed in The New York Times‘ obituary, the idea came to Mary Emma Allison, a schoolteacher long concerned about social justice, while shopping in 1949 in Philadelphia. (credit for photo of Allison and her costume-clad children) Soon she and her husband had created a global movement, called “Pennies for UNICEF” in those days of less deflated economy. Enlisted in the effort have been cultural icons ranging from Casper, the Friendly Ghost (below), to Superman, the Man of Steel. Since its founding the campaign has raised more than $160 million.
No need for a collection box to contribute in Allison’s honor; anyone can click here to donate to UNICEF this Halloween.

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Discusses Juvenile Justice Issues

IACHRThis past Tuesday, October 21, Inter-American Commissioner Rosa María Ortiz spoke at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver as part of a tour through the United States to learn about the U.S. juvenile justice system. As the IACHR‘s Rapporteur on the Rights of Children, Commissioner Ortiz primarily spoke about the Commission’s report, Juvenile Justice and Human Rights in the Americas.

The report, as its title implies, assesses the plight of children and adolescents throughout the region who are caught up in the web of their country’s criminal justice system. She highlighted the toll that confinement takes on children and the lamented the number of countries in the Americas that allow prosecution of children under the age of 12 (the internationally accepted minimum). In her recommendations, Commissioner Ortiz urged the United States to focus on specialization for judges, attorneys, and police, meaning particular training in dealing with children and adolescents for people in these positions. The full report may be accessed here. Learn more about the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights here.

“Children and International Criminal Justice” @ Georgia Law features ICC Prosecutor, dozens of other experts

Fatou Bensouda-ICC-043-bwshPleased to announce that “Children & International Justice,” an international experts’ conference, will be held Tuesday, October 28, here at my home institution, the University of Georgia School of Law in Athens. Delivering the keynote address will be Fatou Bensouda (left), Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, whom I am honored to serve as Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict.

Joining us will be more than 2 dozen experts in children’s rights, international criminal law, and transitional justice, who will address a range of issues in a public morning session and in closed afternoon workshops. Experts will be drawn from academia and the practice; from international organizations like UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict; and from nongovernmental organizations like Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Committee of the Red Cross, No Peace Without Justice, Protect Education in Insecurity & Conflict, Save the Children, and The Carter Center. They will consider legal doctrines, field research, and policy options.

These discussions will assist advising in the ongoing process of development of the Office of the Prosecutor Policy Paper on Children.

The keynote address and the plenary presentations, along with student rapporteurs’ Chatham-House-Rules accounts of the breakout sessions, will be published in the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

Sponsors, in addition to the journal and the law school, are the law school’s Dean Rusk Center for International Law & Policy, the Georgia Law Project on Armed Conflict & Children, the African Studies Institute of the University of Georgia, for which I serve as an affiliated faculty member, the Planethood Foundation, and the American Society of International Law-Southeast.

The day’s schedule begins with a public plenary session from 9:15-11:15 a.m. in the law school’s Hatton Lovejoy Courtroom, as follows:

drumbmalone-48► 9:15 a.m. Welcomes will be followed by a panel on “Children & International Criminal Justice: An Overview,” featuring Professor Mark A. Drumbl (right), Washington & Lee University School of Law, on Children, Armed Violence and Transition: Challenges for International Law & Policy; Kerry L. Neal (middle right), Child Protection Specialist, Justice for Children, UNICEF, on Child Protection in Time of Armed Conflict; Professor Linda A. Malone (above left), College of William & Mary/Marshall-Wythe School of Law, on Interrelation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; Alec Wargo II (middle left), Program Officer, Office of the Special neal_kerrywargo_alecRepresentative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict, on Securing Prevention and Accountability for the Six Grave Violations against Children; and Jo Becker (bottom right), Advocacy Director, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch, on Civil Society’s Role with Respect to Children in Armed Conflict. Moderating will be Jo BeckerjallohProfessor Charles C. Jalloh (left), Florida International University School of Law.

► 11:30 a.m. Following introduction by Georgia Law Dean Rebecca H. White, Prosecutor Bensouda will deliver the keynote address.

► The afternoon will feature workshops sessions open only to expert invitees and moderated by my Georgia Law colleagues Harlan G. Cohen and Andrea L. Dennis, as well as me. Topics to be discussed include:

►► Regulatory Framework (Child-specific and child-related crimes, such as recruitment and use of children, sexual violence / trafficking, education, attacks on hospitals / denial of humanitarian access; legal instruments / jurisprudence other than Rome Statute; children’s rights and human rights law; humanitarian law; law of peace / weapons control treaties; gravity: charging and sentencing)

►► Witnesses, Testimony, and Witness Protection (Identifying and preparing child witnesses, in general, and with relation to specific offenses like sexual violence, against girls and boys; living conditions of children in conflict/postconflict zones; support and witness protection issues; enhancing child witness reliability / challenging of factfinding reparations)

►► Global Child (Children’s vulnerability/victimhood/agency; developmental factors / difficulty of drawing age line; children’s convention: rights and best interests; child protection and child participation: issues of consent; children in militias / conflict zones: roles and experiences; child-friendly dissemination and education)

Experts who will participate in these workshops: Gloria Atiba Davies, Head, Gender and Children Unit, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; Véronique Aubert, Senior Conflict & Humanitarian Policy and Research Adviser, Save the Children, London, England; Hrair Balian, Director of Conflict Resolution Program, Carter Center, Atlanta; Shamila Batohi, Senior Legal Adviser and Head, Legal Advisory Section, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; Dr. Tamora A. Callands, Assistant Research Scientist, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Georgia; Rachelle Carnesale, Chief Assistant District Attorney, Cherokee County, Canton, Georgia, former head of the Georgia Division of Family & Children Picture1Services, and former Acting Director and Deputy Director of the Georgia Office of the Child Advocate; Dr. Nathan B. Hansen, Associate Professor and Department Head, Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, College of Public Health, University of Georgia; member of Legal Advisory staff, International Committee of the Red Cross, Washington, D.C.; Francesca Jannotti, Political Officer, Office of the Special Representative to the U.N. Secretary-General for Children & Armed Conflict, New York; Virginie Ladisch, Head, Children & Youth Program, International Center for Transitional Justice, New York; Sharanjeet Parmar, independent consultant on child-crime accountability, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo; Mark Richmond, Director, Protect Education in Insecurity & Conflict, Education Above All Foundation, Doha, Qatar, and formerly a Director in UNESCO’s senior education team in Paris; Karin Ryan, Senior Adviser on Human Rights, Carter Center, Atlanta; Manoj Sachdeva, Trial Attorney, ICC Office of the Prosecutor; L. Alison A. Smith, International Criminal Justice Director/Legal Counsel, No Peace Without Justice, Brussels, Belgium; Professor Jonathan Todres, Georgia State University School of Law, Atlanta; and Yayoi Yamaguchi, Associate Legal Advisor, Legal Advisory Section, ICC Office of the Prosecutor.

Details here; registration here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)