By Rebecca M.M. Wallace (Professor of International Human Rights and Justice, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK) and Karen Wylie (Research Assistant, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

The principle of the best interests of the child is enshrined in international law by Article 3 of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Similarly the right to family life is protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). In June 2012, in the case of BH (AP) (Appellant) and another v The Lord Advocate and another (Respondents) (Scotland) KAS or H (AP) (Appellant) v The Lord Advocate and another (Respondents) (Scotland) Trinity Term [2012] UKSC 24, On appeal from: [2011] HCJAC 77 (hereafter referred to as BH), the UK Supreme Court had to consider the weight to be given to these principles in the context of the extradition of a couple to the US and the effect this would have on their children.

Very briefly, the charges against the couple, Mr and Mrs H, were conspiracy and unlawful importation into the US of chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine in the knowledge of, or having even cause to believe, that they would be used for that purpose. Mrs H is the mother of six children whose ages ranged, at the time of the case, from 14 to one year. Mr H is the father of the four youngest children. The Supreme Court acknowledged that the children’s interests would be interfered with, at least to some degree, by the extradition of either parent, and if both parents were to be extradited the effect on the family life of the children would be “huge”. The issue confronting the Supreme Court was the weight to be given to the children’s best interests, and whether on considering these best interests, the extradition of both parents, or either of them, would be proportionate. In assessing the parents’ case the Court relied heavily on a previous case, ZH (Tanzania) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2011] UKSC 4 (1 February 2011), in which the weight to be given to the best interests of a child who faced the removal of one of his parents from the UK, was discussed at length.

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By Dr Olga Martin-Ortega, Reader in Public International Law, Greenwich University

Seen on another blog, an interesting comment by Professor Steven Haines on the potential impacts of a recent Judgement of the International Court of Justice, The Hague.

In November 2012, the ICJ released its decision on the Territorial and Maritime Dispute between Nicaragua and Colombia. Right after the decision was made public, Haines notes, comments suggested that the ICJ might have negative consequences on crime combating in the Caribbean. His article thus offers an extensive summary of the facts and proceeds, but it also goes on to an interesting debate on how a ruling on territorial and maritime soverignty may in practice relate to international criminal law.

Here is an abstract, the full article is available here

“It must be said that on first reflecting on this case, it appears to have no substantial relevance to international criminal law at all. As already explained, it was to do with rival maritime claims that, while producing tension, had not previously resulted in the parties to the dispute resorting to force […] We can also reasonably rule out the possibility of this case having any relevance to ICC-based international criminal law. If, however, we adopt a broader definition of what constitutes ‘international crime’ there is at least a suggestion that the Judgement has consequences. A broader definition arguably includes all serious crimes having a significant international dimension. Given the international nature of the oceans, crimes committed at sea will almost invariably have potentially significant international dimensions. One group of crimes with profound international consequences is to do with the manufacture, sale and trafficking of illicit narcotics”.

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By Iva Vukusic, The Hague

 

The Appeals Judgment

 

‘I fundamentally dissent from the entire Appeal Judgment, which contradicts any sense of justice’# is what judge Fausto Pocar, one of the five appellate judges in the Gotovina and Markac trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), states in his Dissenting opinion (paragraph 39). That harsh statement, along with others in the Opinion, indicates just how significant the differences were between the judges’ interpretations during the deliberations on the responsibility of Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, sentenced by the Trial Chamber in April 2011 to 24 and 18 years of imprisonment, respectively, for taking part in a joint criminal enterprise the objective of which was the permanent removal of the Serb population from the Krajina region #. The events took place during and after Operation Storm conducted by the Croatian Military and Police forces in August 1995.

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By Belachew Mekuria Fikre, Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights

It was very enlightening to read Terrence Lyons’ Article titled ‘Conflict-generated diaspora and transnational politics in Ethiopia.’ This is interesting partly because of the recent events in the country that have raised high levels of optimism and hope. These events, however, have been greeted with multiple feelings by the ‘locals’ and the ‘non-locals’, by those ‘fighting within’ and those ‘firing from afar.’ The scientific research findings suggest, as also alluded to by Terrence, that because of their traumatic past, the conflict-generated diaspora remain unflinching to compromise and usually demand for radical changes. This rigidity tends to protract conflicts, where they exist, or antagonise an already emboldened dictatorial regime. Read the rest of this entry »

By Belachew Mekuria Fikre, Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights

The transition to democracy in Libya is on-going. So far, the people have only succeeded to untie themselves from the dictator’s iron fist. Before they start to feel what it means to live in freedom, the ethnic and tribal divides are being drawn as the not so new fault lines for yet another chapter of conflict. What one could reasonably ask, therefore, is would it be a prudent move if a dual identity through the federal set up is at least discussed to be put in place for the new Libya? Read the rest of this entry »

The Western Media

October 29, 2012

By Belachew Mekuria Fikre, Addis Ababa University Centre for Human Rights

The Western media have an established role in their own home politics by tacitly or explicitly backing a particular party or candidate for higher political offices. So they take sides with unfulfilled efforts of pretence to be professional, i.e., they try to be engaged in neutral reporting. But everybody knows which side CNN, or SkyNews or NBS stand. From the inception of a campaign circus till the last night of an election day, and then beginning from the victory speech until the start of the next election they keep on digging holes to find a fact or something closer to it either to the credit or debt of the one they support or oppose without relenting. Read the rest of this entry »

By Jasper Doomen, Lecturer in Law, Leiden University

Enforcement is a crucial aspect of legislation. Once international legislation is inquired with this in mind, one is faced with several difficulties. One particular issue that merits attention is the meaning of the rules that parties are supposed to take into consideration in a state of war.

A traditional way to characterize the norms that govern the laws of war is that between ‘ius ad bellum’ (the right to engage in war) and ‘ius inbello’ (the law of armed conflict, i.e., the right which applies in a state of war). At first sight, these notions may seem unproblematic, at least semantically, as they would simply seem to refer to the rules that determine, respectively, the circumstances under which one is absolved from the accusation of belligerence and those that stipulate how one should act once a state of war is a reality. Serious problems emerge, however, once the status of these rules is critically examined.

In qualifying certain acts as conflicting with ‘ius inbello’, one wonders to what such a phrase amounts. ‘Ius in bello’ implies the possibility to judge whether the rules in a state of war have actually been observed, which, in turn, implies the existence of an authority that is to act as the court of justice. The problems with such a stance are twofold.

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