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Kenya: Senior ICC prosecutor drops probe into 2007 post-election violence

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A senior official of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Nazhat Shameen Khan has announced an end to all further investigations into crimes committed in Kenya relating to violence that erupted following elections in 2007.

The ICC Deputy Chief Prosecutor said the 13-year legal saga, which involved senior Kenyan politicians, had been dropped

“I have reached this decision after considering the specific facts and circumstances of this situation,” she said in a statement.

“Accordingly, the Office will not pursue additional cases into the alleged criminal responsibility of other persons.”

Prosecutors claim that during the nation’s post-election violence in 2010, some 600,000 people were left homeless, and 1,300 people killed in a case in which suspects included former and current Kenyan presidents, Uhuru Kenyatta and President William Ruto. The Hague-based tribunal began looking into the incident in 2010. Six suspects were initially charged with crimes against humanity, which included deportation and murder.

However, in 2014, former chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda dropped the charges against Kenyatta, and in 2016, the prosecution’s case against Ruto was also dropped due to insufficient evidence. The lack of evidence caused the case against all six to fall apart.

Prosecutors opened a new investigation into witness intimidation and bribery after Bensouda claimed that an unrelenting campaign of intimidation against victims and witnesses prevented a trial.

Decades after the “third wave of democratisation,” widespread violence still occurs in sub-Saharan Africa after elections. Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Zimbabwe, among others, have had their share of election conflicts.

Kenya is still not free from election disturbances, as levels of violence also played out during and after the 2022 elections.

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South Africa wants Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Palestinian territories declared illegal

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South Africa is back at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Israel’s role in the ongoing Hamas war. On Tuesday, Johannesburg asked the World Court to issue a non-binding legal opinion that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal.

South Africa argued that the proclamation would help efforts to reach a settlement as its representative opened the second day of hearings at the court in the Hague.

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands told the judges that “a clear legal characterization of the nature of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people can only assist in remedying the ongoing delay and achieving a just settlement.”

Palestinian delegates asked the U.N.’s top court on Monday to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal, adding that the advisory opinion of the court might help bring about a durable peace and a two-state solution.

Israel sent a written statement claiming that an advisory opinion would be detrimental to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, despite not being present at the hearings.

The most recent wave of violence in Gaza, which was sparked by Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7, has exacerbated the region’s long-standing grievances and harmed attempts to find a peaceful solution.

The ICJ’s fifteen-member panel was tasked with “occupation, settlement and annexation … including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

It is anticipated that the judges will take about half a year to respond to the request, which also asks them to evaluate the implications of the occupation’s legal standing.

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Tunisia: Jailed opposition leader Ghannouchi begins hunger strike

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Embattled Tunisian opposition leader, Rached Ghannouchi, who has been a political prisoner since April, has begun a hunger strike in support of other opposition activists who are fasting in protest and calling for their immediate release.

Ghannouchi had threatened to go on a hunger strike in September, and a group of opposition lawyers representing him confirmed the strike had finally begun on Monday.

The 82-year  the leader of the main opposition group Ennahda and a ferocious opponent of President Kais Saied, was imprisoned last year on allegations of inciting violence against law enforcement and scheming to undermine national security.

In a different case earlier this month, a judge found him guilty of taking outside funding and sentenced him to three years in prison.

The lawyers said in a statement that “While he is fighting the ’empty stomach’ battle, Ghannouchi calls on Tunisians to adhere to a democratic Tunisia that includes everyone on the basis of freedom … and the independence of the judiciary.”

An indefinite hunger strike was launched this week by six opposition leaders who were detained during a crackdown last year in protest of their detention without charge or trial and in demand of their prompt release. The jailed leaders, Jawher Ben Mbarak, Rida Belhaj, Abdelhamid Jalasi, Ghazi Chaouachi, Issam Chabbi, and Khayam Turki, were taken into custody on charges of allegedly arranging an attack on state security.

President Saied has been adamant about suppressing dissenting opinions in the nation ever since taking office. In 2023, over 20 political figures were detained, including Ghannouchi, on suspicion of trying to compromise national security.

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