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Sunday, July 19, 2009

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MEANS LOCAL JUSTICE

I watched THE RECKONING tonight. It is well worth watching.

It is on PBS' POV (Point of View) as a documentary.

THE RECKONING about the ICC (International Criminal Court online
http://www.pbs.org/video/video/1182396986/program/1154485580

John R. Bolton, George W Bush's United Nations Ambassador hopefully will glaringly prove his flawed thinking on this show. A reminder: The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag in the USA ends with the following words: "...and liberty and justice for all."

The United States needs to support the ICC. Below the information for the RALLY AT WHITE HOUSE IN SUPPORT OF JUSTICE FOR BASHIR is more information on THE RECKONING.


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JULY 22, 2009

DARFURIS TO RALLY AT WHITE HOUSE IN
SUPPORT OF JUSTICE FOR BASHIR

Protesters to call on Obama administration to act immediately to help bring
justice AND peace to Darfur

WASHINGTON – Darfuris, other Sudanese and Americans who share a common concern about the Obama Administration’s lack of response to the ongoing crimes against humanity in Sudan and Darfur will gather on Wednesday in front of the White House. Participants will deliver a letter to President Obama. From there, participants will walk to the State Department with a letter to the Secretary of State.

The rally is sponsored by the Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy in cooperation with American Darfur activist organizations from across the country. Americans from across the country will also be participating in a National Call-in Day in support of the Darfuri rally. These events are timed to coincide with Special Envoy Gration’s trip to the Sudan and the announcement of the much-anticipated decision on the boundaries of the contested Abyei region. It also falls on the same day as President Obama’s prime time press conference to encourage discussion of Darfur and the ICC case against Bashir at the news conference.

Spokespeople will be available for interviews before, during and after the protest.

WHO: Mohamed Yahya, Executive Director of Damanga Coalition for Freedom and
Democracy, of Washington, DC, originally from West Darfur

WHEN: 1:00PM ET
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WHERE: Start at Lafayette Square for White House Rally then march to the State Department

WHY: To issue a plea to President Obama and Secretary Clinton
for an unequivocal statement from the United States government in support of the
following:

1. International cooperation with the ICC and its indictments of Omar al-Bashir
2. The immediate deployment of the 26,000 UNAMID Peace Forces to Darfur with a
full Chapter VII mandate, and all necessary support and supplies;
3. Pressure on the Government of Sudan to allow all expelled humanitarian
organizations back into Darfur without any delays or conditions;
4. Strict trade sanctions against Chinese oil companies, and all other companies
investing in Sudanese oil or exporting weapons to Sudan;
5. The end of attacks on Refugee Camps in Chad and Darfur and the return of all
confiscated land to its rightful owners.

REQUESTING HELP
The rally organized by the Damanga Coalition in support of justice and peace in Darfur is planned for this Wednesday - JULY 22, 2009. There are many Darfuris on the East Coast who would like to travel to DC for the day but lack funding for the ground transportation expenses. Susan Morgan of the
Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur is working with Damanga and other Darfuri groups to raise enough money to fund vanpools from key locations like NYC, Philadelphia and Virginia. She estimates that with $1000 we would be able to help 30 – 40 Darfuris attend the rally.

If you or your organization is able to contribute (any small amount will help) please respond to her at Susan@paxommunications.org and let her know your pledge amount. Susan will then send you her address to for the check. Checks should be make payable to the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur so that they will be tax deductible. Thanks for any help you may be able to provide.

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Justice doesn't just happen.

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THE RECKONING - about the ICC

Film Description

The Reckoning: former child soldiers from the Congo

Former child soldiers of the Thomas Lubanga UPC militia, Ituri, eastern Congo

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court is an epic, nail-biting account of the new International Criminal Court's struggle to prosecute perpetrators — however powerful or concealed they may be — of crimes against humanity as the Court fights to establish its own credibility on the world stage. The film shows the lead-up to the court's most recent and sensational action, the indictment of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir on March 4, 2009, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Established by treaty in 2002 in response to the mass atrocities that stained the late 20th century, the International Criminal Court (known as the ICC) is the first permanent international criminal court created to seek justice for victims of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the Court, given a historic mandate by its founding 100-plus nations, was not given a police force or other enforcement arm. Moreover, the ICC faces major obstacles in pursuing its mission from nations that did not join the treaty.

The Reckoning: Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

The Reckoning's history of the ICC's founding will be as valuable to those familiar with the story as to those new to it. But the film's central drama concerns events that occurred after 2002. For three years, the filmmakers followed chief ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and his team of investigators and prosecutors across four continents as they issued arrest warrants for Lord's Resistance Army leaders in Uganda, put an infamous Congolese warlord on trial, shook up the Colombian justice system and charged Sudan's al-Bashir with crimes against humanity. At every turn, Moreno-Ocampo and crew faced danger, hostility and resistance. The larger drama in The Reckoning is the fate of the ICC itself. Will this tiny court in The Hague succeed against the odds in forging a new paradigm for human rights and justice in the world?

The Reckoning has a mythological opening. A man holding a human skull in a lonely field offers perhaps the most eloquent argument for the ICC. "Without justice," he says, "people have no respect for each other. If this is left unpunished, it will be repeated." He is speaking of the more than 5 million people killed in the wars that have torn eastern Congo apart since 1998. But he might as well have been speaking for the victims of mass murder in Guatemala (200,000), Cambodia (1.7 million), East Timor (200,000), Sierra Leone (50,000), Bosnia (200,000) and Rwanda (800,000), to name only the most notorious cases. It was the horror of these events — and the prospect of more occurring — that brought the world's nations together at the 1998 Rome Conference and set in motion the negotiations that would lead to the ICC's establishment in 2002.

The Reckoning shows that the idea for the Court goes back further, to the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi leaders following World War II, which the United States was the leader in establishing. This connection is uniquely expressed in the film by Ben Ferencz, who, as a 27-year-old lawyer, prosecuted 22 German officers at Nuremberg for murdering over a million people; all were convicted and 13 were sentenced to death. Ferencz never forgot the horror of the Nazi death camps and became a writer on world peace and a tireless campaigner for a permanent tribunal to prosecute crimes against humanity. He recalls the significance of Nuremberg: that the Allies sought justice through rule of law, establishing that no one was above the law and that not only was the killing of civilians a war crime, but the murder of people on the basis of their race, creed or class — genocide — was a crime of the greatest magnitude. Ferencz was there at The Hague on June 16, 2003, when Moreno-Ocampo was sworn in as the first Prosecutor of the new International Criminal Court.

Moreno-Ocampo himself brings unique experience and moral authority to the ICC — and an acute awareness of its historical roots. In 1985, a younger Moreno-Ocampo successfully prosecuted members of the Argentine military junta that, from 1976 to 1983, conducted a "dirty war" of murder, "disappearances" and torture against its political opponents. "It was the first trial of generals since Nuremberg," Moreno-Ocampo notes. Later, as district attorney for the Federal Circuit of the City of Buenos Aires from 1987 to 1992, he prosecuted the military commanders responsible for the Falklands War, the leaders of two military rebellions and dozens of high-profile corruption cases.

Moreno-Ocampo's team includes such savvy lawyers and investigators as former U.S. federal prosecutor Christine Chung, the ICC's first senior trial attorney, who has been a visiting lecturer and senior fellow at the Schell Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. She is now a partner at the law firm Quinn Emanuel. Well aware of the obstacles facing the ICC, she describes the Court as a "justice start-up."

Three great powers — China, Russia and the United States — are not members of the Court. The United States actively opposed the Court during the George W. Bush administration. In The Reckoning, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton explains his rationale for the American campaign against it. He doesn't ever want to contemplate U.S. leaders in an international dock. For Bolton, national sovereignty cannot be compromised. For its part, China opposes the ICC arrest warrant indicting Sudanese President al-Bashir, and Russia remains skeptical about it.

The ICC's job, as a court of "last resort," is to support and push national judiciaries to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide. Only when a country's justice system proves completely incapable of dealing with such crimes, and only when asked, does the ICC step in directly — and then gingerly. Where international justice conflicts with national sovereignty, the ICC must employ both clarity of purpose and political diplomacy.

Thus, in Colombia, where officials "at the highest levels" have been implicated in the political violence ravaging the country, the Court throws its prestige and resources behind Colombian prosecutors who are fighting to investigate the allegations in the face of political opposition. In Congo, by contrast, the Congolese government has asked the ICC to intervene because chaos prevents any credible judicial process. So the ICC investigates and issues its own arrest warrant for Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a notorious militia leader, for abducting children to serve as his child soldiers. To serve its warrant in Congo, the ICC must rely on local allies, in this case the government — making Dyilo the first war criminal brought to trial at the ICC's headquarters in The Hague.

The Sudan/Darfur case was referred to the ICC by the U.N. Security Council. Since many around the world see Darfur as a clear case of genocide by the Sudanese government against indigenous Darfurians, the government's open defiance of the ICC's warrant for al-Bashir forces the ICC to return to the U.N. Security Council itself to get the international community to bring pressure to arrest al-Bashir. At that point, the clarity provided by law and the U.N. is caught up in murky realpolitik.

In the case of Uganda, an even more difficult contradiction threatens to derail the ICC's work. The government of Uganda asked the ICC to investigate and bring the leaders of a rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), to justice. After 50 investigative missions documenting some 2,200 murders, the ICC prepares to bring warrants when the LRA leaders, clearly worried, try to turn the situation on its head. They come in from the bush, offering negotiations and a new era of peace and stability — but only if the ICC warrants are lifted. After so many years of war and death, even surviving victims of the LRA's worst atrocities find it all but impossible not to take the bait.

ICC prosecutors go on a campaign to convince Ugandans that, in the long run, there will be no peace or stability if the LRA leaders are allowed to get away with their crimes. Ultimately, whether speaking to the august ambassadors of state at the U.N. or to maimed villagers in Uganda, the ICC holds fast to the simple principle spoken by that Congolese man in the field: "Without justice, people have no respect for each other."

Nothing less than a real-life thriller, The Reckoning keeps you on the edge of your seat with two riveting dramas — the prosecution of three cases of unspeakable crimes against humanity and the ICC's fight for its own survival and effectiveness. Senior Trial Attorney Chung reveals the stakes that still hang in the balance when she wonders if the ICC will emerge as an effective institution for justice or simply a symbolic one, a "shadow" of what it was meant to be.

"I started out thinking that The Reckoning would be about the ICC's cases and trials, like any good crime thriller," says director Pamela Yates. "I quickly realized I had to expand the film's vision to include the far-reaching effects the ICC was having at the local level, with the tremendous amount of controversy as well as hope that its investigations were causing. The Court itself became the protagonist of The Reckoning, and all the cinematic elements were developed in realizing this idea."

The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court is a production of Skylight Pictures. Visit the filmmakers' site, IJCentral if you want to support the international justice movement and join in their action campaigns.

  • Posted on June 8, 2009
  • Updated on July 17, 2009

ICC Timeline
ICC Timeline
Put the ICC in historical perspective with this multimedia timeline.

Filmmaker Interview
Filmmaker Interview
Filmmakers Pamela Yates and Paco de Onís talk about the challenges of making a film about the ICC.
International Justice and Human Rights
International Justice and Human Rights
Scholars, human rights organizations and political analysts discuss issues raised by the fil
Q&A with Christine Chung
Q&A with Christine Chung
Former ICC attorney Christine Chung answers questions about the court, the Obama administration’s policy towards the ICC and more

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Write to President Obama
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

You can also write to the President at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

President Obama can be called:

202-456-1111
or
1-800-GENOCIDE

The White House comment line is available
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays

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Find USA elected politicians contact information at this link:
www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

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More Information:

www.stopgenocidenow.org

www.enoughproject.org
www.savedarfur.org
www.eyesondarfur.org

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