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CICC MENA Regional Meeting: (english) Media Digest
24 Aug 2005
Please find below a digest of excerpts from news articles in English
related to the CICC Regional Consultative Meeting on the Middle East
and North Africa, held in Sana'a, Yemen on August 13-14, 2005, and
organized by the Sister's Arabic Forum(SAF), with support from FIDH.

Thanks to the excellent efforts of SAF and its director - the MENA
Regional Coordinator for CICC, Amal al-Basha, the meeting was very
well-attended, including participants and CICC members from 10 MENA
countries (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco,
the Palestinian Territories, Sudan, and Yemen), as well as CICC
Convener William Pace, CICC MENA Outreach Liaison Anjali Kamat, FIDH
Vice President Raji Sourani from the Palestinian Center for Human
Rights in Gaza, FIDH MENA Program representatives Stephanie David and
Marie Camberlin, and a wide cross-section of lawyers, human rights
activists, journalists, and MPs from Yemen.

The meeting was opened by Yemen's Human Rights minister, Ms. Amat
al-Alim al-Soswa, at a formal launching session attended by over a 100
people, including representatives from the German and French embassies
in Sana'a, and both Yemeni journalists (from Yemen Times, Yemen TV,
Al-Ayyam newspaper, Al-Thowra newspaper, Al-Thaqafiya newspaper,
Al-Nidhaal newspaper, 14th October newspaper, and Al-Isbua newspaper)
as well as those from regional media organizations (Al-Jazeera,
Al-Arabiyya, Al-Hurra, Inter Press Service, Agence France Press,
Al-Sharq al-Awsath, and Gulf News). The meeting received excellent
coverage in the Arabic news media - both in Yemen and around the
region.

Following the regional meeting, William Pace, Amal al-Basha, and
Anjali Kamat had separate meetings on prospects for ratification with
a number of Yemeni government officials and members of Parliament
including: President Abdullah Ali Saleh, Minister of Human Rights Amat
al-Alim al-Soswa, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jaafar Saeed Basaleh,
Minister of Justice Adnan al-Jafri, and Shura Council (Senate)
Chairman Abdulazeez Abdul Ghani.

A more general report on the regional meeting follows next week, but
for now, here is a digest of excerpts of the media coverage in
English.

1. Inter Press Service, "RIGHTS: Arabs Urged to Accept International
Court" by Nabil Sultan, August 23, 2005. A comprehensive report on the
regional meeting, with quotes from participants and Yemeni Members of
Parliament. (Please note that the article mistakenly abbreviates FIDH
to IFHR).

2. Gulf News Report, "ICC will combat terror through justice," "ICC
not a tool in the hands of superpower," and "Treaty Supporters Ready
to Enforce Laws of War." By Nasser Arrabyee, August 19, 2005:
Three-part front-page article on ICC based on a long interview with
William Pace, Convener of the CICC.

3. Yemen Times, "Arab States hold Meeting on ICC" by Yasser Mohammad
Al-Mayassi, August 15, 2005. Front page report on the opening session
of the Regional Meeting (Please Note that the article has a number of
errors stemming from mistranslations, namely: it mistakenly
abbreviates CICC, FIDH, and SAF to "ICCC," "IFHR," and "ASFHR"
respectively; it also mistakenly calls the Rome Statute the "Rome's
Basic System.")

4. Bahrain News Agency, "Saleh receives a delegation of the
International Criminal Court," August 16, 2005. Report on President
Saleh's meeting with FIDH and CICC (mistakenly reported as a
"delegation of the ICC").

5. UPI / Yemen News Agency, "President Saleh welcomes ICC
ratification," August 17, 2005.
Report that President Saleh met with CICC Convener William Pace
(though they mistake CICC with the ICC). President Saleh confirmed
that Yemen would welcome ICC ratification.

6. UPI / Yemen News Agency, "Parliament deputy speaker meets ICC
delegation," August 17, 2005.
Report that CICC Convener William Pace met with Deputy Parliament
speaker Saleh Saeed.

7. UPI / Yemen News Agency, "Yemen studies harmonizing national
legislation with ICC statute," August 17, 2005. Report on William
Pace's meeting with the legal team from the Ministry of Justice,
including Minister of Justice Adnan Al-Jafri. (the report however
mistakenly reports it as a meeting with an "ICC delegation").

8. UPI/ Yemen News Agency, "Shura chairman meets ambassadors of Cuba,
UAE," August 17, 2005.
Report that Shura Council (Senate) Chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Ghani
met with the "envoy of the international alliance with the ICC"
(William Pace). (The report misquotes Bill as saying Yemen is one of
the 5 regional centers of the Court - instead of the site of one of
the 5 regional offices of the Coalition for the ICC.)

9. Al-Bawaba News Agency, "Yemen to host forum on International
Criminal Court," August 8, 2005.
Short announcement on the regional strategy meeting. (The announcement
mistakenly calls the CICC the "international alliance for ratifying
the International Criminal Court" and refers to the Rome Statute as
the "Rome Declaration"


Thank you,
Best,
Anjali Kamat

Outreach Liaison
Middle East, North Africa and Europe
Coalition for the International Criminal Court

708 3rd Avenue 24th Floor, New York, NY 100117, USA
ph: 1-212-687-2863 ext. 18
fax: 1-212-599-1332
http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org


1. IPS, August 23, 2005. "RIGHTS: Arabs Urged to Accept International
Court" by Nabil Sultan.

SANA'A, Yemen, Aug 23 (IPS) - Civil society organisations agreed last
week to launch a campaign to pressure Arab states to join the
International Criminal Court.

Several Arab states such as Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the United
Arab Emirates have signed up to the International Criminal Court (ICC)
but not ratified their membership. So far 99 countries have ratified
membership, with the United States the most significant exception.
[...]

Countries that accept the ICC accept its right to act when their own
national institutions fail to deal with genocide, war crimes and
crimes against humanity.
The court has begun proceedings in cases of such crime in Sudan,
Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICC has been set up
at The Hague in the Netherlands.

The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC led the
campaign launched in Sana'a last week to bring more Arab countries
into the ICC.

A two-day meeting was organised by the CICC together with the Arab
Sisters Forum for Human Rights and the International Federation for
Human Rights (IFHR).
Representatives from 12 Arab countries attended the event, including
mostly lawyers, political leaders and human rights activists.

[...]

They agreed to push institutions, particularly the Arab League, the
African Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council to call for
ratification of the ICC. They said such efforts should be persistent,
and not feeble and periodical.

They agreed to organise workshops, training courses for media and
awareness campaigns in support of the international court. The CICC is
also beginning to lobby governments directly, Anjali Kamat from the
coalition announced.

Kamat and William Pace from the International Federation for Human
Rights met with Yemeni officials. There was, however, no immediate
indication from Yemeni officials that they will consider ratification.

[...]

Arab regimes are afraid of ratifying the Rome statute on the basis of
which the ICC was set up because "they are not in harmony with their
people," lawyer Naji Alaw said. Disappearances, torture and arbitrary
detentions without charge or trial are common in the Arab world, he
said. The situation had worsened in the course of the 'war on terror',
he said.

Many of the delegates pointed to discriminatory laws in the Arab
world, particularly in relation to women's rights, freedom of
expression and the right to set up political parties. "The judicial
systems in the region are corrupt, and the bureaucracy is disturbing,"
chair of the Arab sisters forum Amal al-Basha told the meeting.

"We have to do the best to make the Middle East, North Africa and the
Gulf countries places for peaceful living and co-existence," al-Basha
said. "The region's countries are the most in need to ratify the
International Criminal Court because they are universally
undemocratic."

[...]

Several delegates said there is little support among people for human
rights.
"People are ready to support any charitable society, but they are not
aware of the importance of donations for human rights organisations,"
activist Entisar Mohammed Ali told IPS. But others pointed out that
human and legal rights groups themselves lack a unified approach on
the ICC.

The activists backing the ICC found support from Yemeni minister for
human rights Amat al-Alim al-Soswa. The establishment of the ICC in
1998 was "a turning point towards enhancing justice, changing words
about respecting human rights and scarcity of human dignity into
deeds, and finding effective international legal mechanisms which
guarantee the respecting of mankind all over the world," she told the
meeting.

"The International Criminal Court is one of the most important
mechanisms," she said. "We hope it will achieve its goals."

Shawki al-Qadhi, member of the human rights committee in the
Parliament criticised Arab countries who had signed the ICC agreement,
and then not ratified the treaty.

"In Yemen, the constitutional committee in charge of discussing the
ratification blames the delay on the difficult situation in the
country," al-Qadhi told IPS.
"They just waste time and look for excuses."



2. Gulf News, August 19, 2005: 3-part article by Nasser Arrabyee.

(a): International Criminal Court 'will combat terror through
justice'
The International Criminal Court will boost the war against terror
through justice and the rule of law, William R. Pace, Convenor
(General Coordinator) of the international coalition for ICC, told
Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

"The judges may be wrong and corrupt, but the institution has 150
countries in the governing body, so it will be very difficult for one
or two countries to control it and there will be no veto," said Pace,
who participated in a regional meeting on mobilising support for ICC
held in Sanaa earlier this week.

[...]

"The prosecutor will always have employees from 30-50 countries in his
office. So it's not like one country's military that can take over the
court and tell us what to do," Pace said.
He also pointed out that justice and the rule of law are the most
effective tools to combat terror.
[...]

Asked about the court's standing on the war on terror, Pace said: "The
ICC would actually help the war on terror. It could be the court to
try some of the terror suspects.
"All such suspects would be given proper defence, rights and
guarantees and they will have to be proved guilty or innocent within a
timeframe."
(b) International Criminal Court not a tool in the hands of
superpowers

"ICC will never be controlled by any country because it will have
judges elected from at least 18 nations and will have employees from
over 100 nations, so there is no way that one country can control
ICC," Convenor (General Coordinator) of the international coalition
for ICC, William R. Pace, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview in
Sanaa.
"The prosecutor will always have employees from 30-50 countries in his
office. So, it's not like one country's military that can take over
the court and tell us what to do.
"The judges may be wrong and corrupt, but the institution has 150
countries in the governing body, so it will be very difficult for one
or two countries to control it and there will be no veto," said Pace
who participated in a regional meeting on mobilising support for ICC
which was held in Sanaa early this week.

Pace visited Yemen last week to participate in the regional meeting on
ICC which was organised by the Sisters' Arab Forum for Human Rights in
collaboration with the international coalition for ICC and the
International Federation of Human Rights.

Participants from Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Morocco and
Algeria attended the meeting.

He pointed out that justice and the rule of law are the most effective
tools to combat terror.
Asked about the motives to launch the war on terror, the official said
"the ICC would actually help the war on terror. It could be a court to
try some of the terrorists.
"But the terrorists would be given proper defence, rights, guarantees
and they must be proved guilty or innocent."
If Osama Bin Laden or any other terrorist was captured in Europe they
could not transfer him to US because of the death penalty issue, Pace
said.
However, he said the ICC will not solve all the world's problems, but
it is a great step that the world's leaders and governments can say
that if you commit these crimes you're going to be brought to justice.
He warned of catastrophes in the 21st century if wars, genocide and
violence continued. "We had no record of more war, more violence, mass
murders, genocide than in the 20th century.
"If we repeat that in this century with weapons of mass destruction we
may not have a 22nd century," he said.
The US campaign against ICC has affected its activities by giving
hints at cutting assistance given to some countries.
"If we did not have Bush administration and US Congress' war against
ICC, we would have now 10-12 more countries as members, that's to say
we would have now at least 110 countries that already ratified its
statute," Pace said.

[...]

Ninety-nine countries have ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC
including two Arab countries Jordan and Djibouti.
All the European Union countries including 9 of the 10 new- comers
have ratified it. The Czech Republic has not ratified it yet.
Many countries like United States, Israel , Russia, China, India have
not ratified it. If the ICC issues an arrest warrant for somebody now
there will be 99 countries that the person cannot travel to without
being arrested, Pace said.

(c) Treaty supporters ready to enforce laws of war
. "The countries that are willing to ratify the statute want people
who violate the laws of war to be brought to justice," General
Coordinator of the international coalition for the International
Criminal Court, William R. Pace, told Gulf News.
"Some 180 countries have ratified the Geneva Conventions, but only 99
of them are willing to enforce them.
"Others say we want to enforce them on other people, we agree that no
one should violate Geneva Conventions against us but no one should
force us to obey these conventions," said Pace who took part in the
regional meeting in Sanaa for mobilising support for the International
Criminal Court.
"Some countries say it's not a priority, and maintain that development
treaties should come first, and the countries that have conflicts, the
military will not let them ratify," he added.
Some other countries say the ratification will reduce their
sovereignty, but the only thing that reduces their sovereignty is to
commit war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, the official
said.
He pointed out that many countries do not trust in international law,
because historically, the international law has been a tool of the big
powers.

[...]

Answering a question on what concrete progress has been made so far
and future expectations, he said: "When we started in 1994 we were
told by experts it would take 50-60 years to make any progress.
"It's extremely difficult to get governments to create an
international court that may put their leaders in prison.
"In four years we had the treaty, but experts said it would take 20-30
years to get 60 ratifications because so many countries have to amend
their constitutions. "But in four years' time we had 66 ratifications
and the treaty came into force."
Experts said if there are no cases, no country is going to refer to
the court, and the United States will never let the United Nations
Security Council refer cases to the court, so there will be no
business for the court.
[...]


3. Yemen Times, Sana'a, August 15, 2005 - By Yasser Mohammad
Al-Mayassi
"Arab States hold Meeting on ICC"

Under the auspices of Human Rights Minister, Ms Amatalalim al-Soswa,
functions of the Arab Regional Consultative Meeting on the
International Criminal Court (ICC) started on Saturday August 13 in
Sana'a.
[...]

The two-day meeting was organized by the Arab Sisters Forum for Human
Rights
(ASFHR) in cooperation with the International Criminal Court's
Coalition
(ICCC) and the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR). The
event was attended by representatives from 12 Arab countries.

The meeting aimed to make a coordination for endorsing Rome's Basic
System for the International Criminal Court, exchanging information
and thoughts on the stand of the Middle East and North African
countries and studying the challenges that hinder endorsement and
implementation of the system. It also aimed to increase the number of
countries endorsing the system through a better comprehension the
ICC's role in ensuring protection of human rights.
[...]

The ASFHR based in Yemen was selected, along with other international
centers, as a regional center for the ICCC in the Middle East and
North Africa. The coalition includes 2000 world organizations
scattered in 150 countries. Ms. Amal al-Basha is the Regional
Coordinator for the ICCC.

The ICC started its work on July 1st 2002, by looking into war and
anti-humanity crimes and genocides. Currently the court is discussing
crimes committed in Congo, Uganda and Darfur.

The different activities of the meeting gave fuller information about
the ICC, its scheme and the ICCC, which was established for supporting
it. The meeting reviewed laws operating in several states, how they
contradict the Rome's System and diagnosed the difficulties and
barriers hindering the Arab countries from endorsing the system.

[...]

A series of important speeches were delivered during the meeting by
specialists including Ms. Amatalalim al-Soswa, Yemeni Human Rights
Minister who confirmed that her country officially welcomes the
establishment of the ICC.

According to al-Soswa, the establishment of the court is a historic
leap toward supporting justice and emphasizing the human dignity. She
stressed that having faith in democracy can not be manifested in the
process of direct elections and secret polls, rather, it is an actual
conduct and real practice of human rights, as well as a protection of
life and dignity of man from any violation.

Ms. Amal al-Basha Head of the Arab Sisters Forum and Regional
Coordinator of the ICCC emphasized that the meeting aims to facilitate
interaction with the court and make the world a safer place for
ensuring status of the law and establishing the principles of justice.

Joint work, Ms. Al-Basha added, will help people move from a pre-law
state period to another period prevailed by justice and equal human
rights. Thus the Middle East, North African and Gulf countries will be
convenient places for peaceful living.

She ascertained that states in the Middle East, North Africa and the
Gulf are in persistent need to endorse Rome's System for the
International Criminal Court, particularly as these countries are
inclusively undemocratic.

Ms. Al-Basha urged the Arab regimes to offer all the guarantees to
protect their nations.

Mr. Mohamed al-Tayyib, Chairman of the Rights, Freedoms and Civil
Community Committee at al-Shura Council confirmed the ICC is one of
the important achievements attained so far since the establishment of
the United Nations in 1945.

Refraining from endorsing the Rome's System will never yield positive
results; it may deprive the Arab countries of several advantages, most
important of which is suggesting a solution for the absence of the
Arab reward and effectiveness in different judicial institutions.

4. Bahrain News Agency, August 16, 2005. "Saleh receives a delegation
of the International Criminal Court"

President Ali Abudullah Saleh expressed satisfaction over the
ratification of the establishment of the International Criminal Court.
[...] This came as the Yemeni President received Tuesday a visiting
delegation representing the International Coalition of the
International Criminal Court and the International Federation of Human
Rights. The delegation has taken part in the regional advisory meeting
on the International Court.

5. Yemen News Agency/ UPI, August 17, 2005. "President Saleh welcomes
ICC ratification"

President Ali Abdullah Saleh met on Tuesday the visiting
delegation of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court,
headed by the general coordinator for the ICC William Pace.
The CICC and the Sisters Arab Forum, in cooperation with the Ministry
of Human Rights organized here on August 13-14 a consulting meeting
over the International Criminal Court. [...]
In the meeting, president Saleh listened to the results of the
consulting meeting.
Mr. Pace briefed also the programs of the ICC which aim at
gathering efforts towards the ratification of the Rome Statute for the
ICC.
"We are looking forward to have Yemen's ratification on the
ICC's Rome Statute, as Yemen is one of the leading countries in the
region which have good experience of democracy.
President Saleh confirmed that Yemen welcomes the ratification of
the court.


6. Yemen News Agency/ UPI. August 17, 2005. "Parliament deputy speaker
meets ICC delegation"

Deputy Parliament speaker Saleh Saeed met on Tuesday the visiting
delegation of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court and
the International Federation for Human Rights, headed by the general
coordinator of the federation William Pace.
During the meeting, they exposed the outcomes of the consulting
meeting over the coalition for ICC which was held early this week,
August 13- -14. [...]

Mr. Pace explained the role being played by the coalition.
He paid tribute to Yemen's role in enhancing democracy and human
rights, pointing out that Yemen enjoys political importance in the
region.
Saeed praised the ICC humanitarian service and confirmed that
Parliament supports the ICC in all the issues it tackles.


7. Yemen News Agency/ UPI, August 17, 2005. "Yemen studies harmonizing
national legislation with ICC statute"

A legal team from the Ministry of Justice is currently studying
how to institute a kind of matching between the national legislation
and the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, Minister of
Justice Adnan Al-Jafri stated. [...]

Al-Jafri said in his meeting on Tuesday with the delegation of
the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International
Federation for Human Rights that the Parliament seriously "discusses
the institution of the national laws with the ICC's statute" and that
Yemen is taking constitutional procedures to ratify the statute.
Al-Jafri highlighted steps taken by Yemen in pursuance of judicial
and legal reforms particularly those relating to human rights and
combating terror and corruption.
The Minister spoke highly about the role the ICC has been
established to play in order to stabilize democratic principles and
keep human dignity.


8. Yemen News Agency/UPI, August 17, 2005. "Shura chairman meets
ambassadors of Cuba, UAE"

Chairman of the Shura Council Abdul-Aziz Abdul-Ghani held a
meeting Monday with the outgoing ambassadors of the United Arab
Emirates and Cuba.
However, in the meeting with the envoy of the international
alliance with the International Criminal Court, Abdul-Ghani was brief
by the envoy on the alignment of 2000 international NGOs in
buttressing the newly established court.[...]

The envoy made clear that Yemen was named one of the five regional
centers of the court in the world.


9. Al-Bawaba News Agency, August 8, 2005. "Yemen to host forum on
International Criminal Court"
In cooperation with the International Alliance for ratifying the
International Criminal Court, the Arab Sisters Forum for Human Rights
is to organize a regional meeting from 13 to 14 August. The meeting
will focus on challenges related to the ratification of the court by
member states of the alliance in accordance with the Rome
declaration.[...]