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Submissions and Publications

AJC SUBMISSION ON THE ICC OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR’S POLICY ON SLAVERY CRIMES 

The Asia Justice Coalition secretariat responded to a call for input by The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its Policy on Slavery Crimes.

In the written submission, the Asia Justice Coalition secretariat highlights the historical legacy of slavery in the region, including the sexual enslavement of ‘comfort women’ by the Imperial Japanese armed forces, and enslavement by the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. Regarding contemporary forms of slavery, the submission also highlights the enslavement of workers in the fishing industry in Southeast Asia, as well as the forced conscription of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The secretariat recommends comprehensive and intersectional reflection on slavery crimes, including cumulative charging at the ICC in the interest of justice and accountability.

AJC SUBMISSION TO THE CEDAW COMMITTEE ON THE GENERAL RECOMMENDATION 40 ON EQUAL AND INCLUSIVE REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN DECISION-MAKING SYSTEMS

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for submissions from UN CEDAW on General Recommendation 40 on the equal and inclusive representation of women in decision-making systems. The submission focused on the need for the inclusion of legal ecosystems to be better reflected within the robust draft, given the gender gap that persists within domestic and international legal systems.

AJC's SUBMISSION TO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR'S DRAFT POLICY ON COMPLEMENTARITY & COOPERATION 2023

The Asia Justice Coalition secretariat responded to a call for input by The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court on its Draft Policy Paper on Complementarity and Cooperation.

 

In the written submission, the Asia Justice Coalition secretariat focused on two areas: the first on the relationship between the OTP and external independent investigative bodies like the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) to understand the legal basis of cooperation and the consequences under the Rome Statute, and to bolster the exercise of domestic and universal jurisdiction. Second, on creative and sustained cooperation with non-States Parties and to ensure victims and witness protection. 

AJC Statement at the 22nd Session of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties #ASP22

Dr Priya Pillai, secretariat head, Asia Justice Coalition, delivered a statement at the General Debate of the 22nd Session of the International Criminal Court Assembly of States Parties.  AJC believes that justice—holistic justice—is the only antidote to impunity and that accountability for international crimes—domestic, regional, and international—is a significant part of this holistic justice. Consequently, AJC called for inclusive, timely, and collaborative justice at the International Criminal Court.

AJC BRIEFING PAPER ON ASIAN STATES' POSITION ON THE DRAFT CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY CONVENTION

Asia Justice Coalition's Briefing Paper addresses the Draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity. The Brief serves as an easy-to-understand explainer of the movement on the International Law Commission's Draft Articles on Crimes Against Humanity at the UN General Assembly Sixth Committee. It traces what has happened so far and what to expect going forward. It also highlights the position of Asian States and calls on them to support the passage of the Draft Articles in the Sixth Committee.

AJC's SUBMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR's 2014 POLICY PAPER ON SEXUAL & GENDER-BASED CRIMES

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court's call for public submissions for suggested changes to revise the 2014 OTP Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender-based Crimes, update the Office’s approach, and build upon dedicated investigative experience and relevant jurisprudence. 

 

In the written submission, the Asia Justice Coalition focused on three areas; the first was to consider the effective use of cumulative charging for sexual and gender-based crimes, and, upholding the precedent set in the Ongwen case, ensure the full range of gender-based crimes are prosecuted. Second, for the OTP to include charges of command or superior responsibility in more cases to hold commanders and civilian officials responsible for the full range of gender-crimes committed and to analyse sexual violence evidence through a gender-competent lens. Third, the submission focused on operationalising gender equality at the court through conducting a gender analysis, and to make explicit its commitment to gender equality, both for staff and intermediaries who are likely to engage with victims and witnesses of sexual and gender-based crimes. 

AJC's SUBMISSION TO THE UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF JUDGES & LAWYERS (2023)

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, for her report on the promise of legal empowerment to expand and transform access to justice to be presented at the 78th session of the General Assembly in October/November 2023. 

 

In the written submission, the Asia Justice Coalition argues that prioritising women’s leadership in international law is central to achieve equal and effective justice for all and to “build effective, accountable and inclusive [legal] institutions at all levels”, as stated in Sustainable Developmental Goal 16. AJC has recently launched its four-year-long project titled “Women Leaders in International Justice & Accountability” which aims to develop women’s leadership in international law by building expertise and facilitating constructive dialogue around critical issues of international justice and accountability, building upon the work that we have been doing as a collective.

AJC's SUBMISSION TO THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS, ESPECIALLY WOMEN AND CHILDREN (2023)

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, for her report on the access to international protection of victims of trafficking in persons or persons at risk of trafficking to be presented at the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council in June 2023.

 

In the written submission, the Asia Justice Coalition highlights the impact of armed conflict on trafficking within the context of the situation in Myanmar and Rohingya. The submission argues that the continued impunity of the military junta in Myanmar and the ongoing practice of pushbacks in the region in violation of the international legal obligation to prevent refoulement contribute to and further exacerbate the conditions enabling trafficking.

AJC SECRETARIAT LETTER TO THE MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE INITIATIVE 

AJC Secretariat wrote a letter to the Mutual Legal Assistance Initiative welcoming movement on the draft Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (the Treaty). The secretariat supports Articles 4, 5, and 7 of the Treaty and the Initiative’s State-led process, and civil society engagement within it. The secretariat recommends the following -

 

  1. Incorporating the war crime of starvation into the definition of ‘war crime’ in Article 2(5)(e)(xii) rather than in Annex E, given its relevance in the region;

  2. Including in draft Article 5bis that international cooperation shall not be refused on the ground that a State Party had not criminalized the relevant Treaty crimes at the time the conduct was committed, permitting retrospective requests from/to jurisdictions that did not previously have atrocity crimes incorporated within their domestic systems;

  3. Interrogating whether excluding requests for charges related to ‘political opinion’, which the secretariat supports as an explicitly discriminatory ground for mandatory assistance refusal in draft Article 21(1)(a) and  draft  Article  35(1)(a), will be sufficient  to prevent States  from utilising the Treaty terms for undue prosecution of human rights defenders under terrorism or sedition charges; and

  4. Ensuring that draft Article 59 includes obligations on State Parties to ensure the protection of victims, witnesses, and others not solely within the  Requesting and Requested State but also through any third States through which they, or their information, may transit.

AJC's SUBMISSION TO THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN MYANMAR

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar for his report concerning the 'violations of children’s rights in Myanmar' to be presented at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council.

 

In the written submission, the Coalition highlights the continuing and extensive arms transfer to Myanmar and the consequent impact it has on the human rights (right to life and economic, social, and cultural rights) of children. The submission specifically focuses on the nexus between arms transfer and the increasing use and recruitment of children. The proliferation of arms in Myanmar facilitates the intensification of the ongoing armed conflict and commission of mass atrocities.

 

The submission is the shortened version of the OHCHR submission on 'arms transfer and impact on human rights' made by the Asia Justice Coalition in April 2022.

AJC's SUBMISSION TO THE OFFICE OF THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ON THE IMPACT OF ARMS TRANSFER ON HUMAN RIGHTS

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) for their report on the impact of arms transfers on human rights to be presented at the 51st session of the Human Rights Council.

 

In the written submission, the Coalition highlights the continuing and extensive arms transfer to Myanmar and the consequent impact it has on the human rights (right to life and economic, social, and cultural rights) of children. The submission specifically focuses on the nexus between arms transfer and the increasing use and recruitment of children. The proliferation of arms in Myanmar facilitates the intensification of the ongoing armed conflict and commission of mass atrocities.

TOOLKIT ON JUSTICE AVENUES FOR INTERNATIONAL CRIMES

Civil society organizations (CSOs) and other interested parties play a  vital role in assisting victims and survivors to seek justice and accountability for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. International justice benefits from the critiques and support by CSOs to make processes more accessible and more equitable. This Toolkit is a result of training conducted by the Asia Justice Coalition (AJC) secretariat for CSO representatives across Asia. In this multi-week training, it was realised that such a one-stop guide on the functions and operations of international justice mechanisms would be useful. While it focuses on CSOs, this Toolkit is intended to be useful for anyone interested in international justice and accountability.

 

This toolkit is intended to assist interested parties to decide for themselves, and then to engage with, the most appropriate international justice mechanisms or avenue(s) available and relevant to their context. With its publication, the Coalition reaffirms the urgent need for victim-centered avenues for pursuing justice and accountability for international crimes.

 

The Toolkit provides a look at available avenues for CSO engagement within the international legal sphere. It includes easy-to-read overviews of United Nations Fact-Finding Missions (FFMs) and International Investigative Mechanisms, the International Criminal Court (ICC), the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the use of Universal Jurisdiction (UJ).

AJC’s SUBMISSION TO THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON RIGHTS TO PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY AND OF ASSOCIATION

The Asia Justice Coalition responded to a call for input by the Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Peaceful Assembly and of Association for their report to be presented at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council. 

In the written submission, the Coalition provides its observations on the protection of human rights in the context of peaceful protests during overlapping military, humanitarian, and social and political crises in and related to Myanmar. Specifically, the submission addresses violations to the right to peaceful assembly and other interrelated human rights during peaceful protests in two contexts: (i) the February 2021 coup in Myanmar; (ii) Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh refugee camps.

CIVIL SOCIETY INFORMATION COLLECTION FOR INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BODIES

Information collected by organizations on serious violations of international law can be used for multiple purposes, including: to provide context or leads for investigators; as support for submissions to human rights and treaty complaint bodies; as evidence in international or domestic legal proceedings; and to set a foundation for truth-telling or other reconciliation mechanisms. This brief provides considerations for civil society organizations (CSOs) potentially engaging in information collection regarding serious violations of international law against the Rohingya for use in criminal justice proceedings. 

 

At its heart, CSOs engaging in information collection must ‘do no harm:’ they must take responsibility for the risks to those providing information, to the information itself, and to those collecting information. 


A non-exhaustive overview, this brief focuses on information collection that may be compiled for eventual use by the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM) or used in matters before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the International Court of Justice (ICJ). While this brief focuses on engagement with international judicial bodies, the guidance provided in collecting information is also relevant where members seek to provide assistance to domestic prosecutors under universal jurisdiction. It does not address broader information collection for human rights bodies.

UNIVERSAL CRIMINAL JURISDICTION SCOPING

National prosecution for egregious international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity is vital to international justice and accountability. Where it is not possible or practical to prosecute in the state in which the crime took place, international law has developed several forms of jurisdiction in which an accused may be prosecuted in other states—including the state of the perpetrator’s nationality and the state of the victim’s nationality. The exercise of universal jurisdiction permits a state to prosecute when the crime neither took place on its soil nor involved its nationals. Thus, the exercise of universal jurisdiction can fill an important gap to prevent impunity where States that are directly affected are unwilling or unable to bring a prosecution. 

 

This scoping paper provides a review of scholarship and commentary on the use of universal jurisdiction in international criminal matters. It notes that the exercise of universal jurisdiction, while growing, is still a relatively novel concept. Pursuing such matters is resource-intensive and success is not guaranteed. Because of this, it is important to examine which, how, and whether Forum State courts may be inclined to exercise universal criminal jurisdiction—one of many potential avenues for justice. Thus, this scoping paper’s purpose is to assist in determining how, and to what extent, the Coalition may pursue the exercise of universal criminal jurisdiction regarding international crimes against the Rohingya. This may be applicable more broadly to other contexts as well.

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