July 2019

Appel à candidature pour les bourses de recherche doctorale du CEGLA au Niger et au Mali

Le programme Africain Excellence du DAAD à travers le Centre d’Excellence de Gouvernance Locale en Afrique (CEGLA) finance 4 bourses de doctorat pour des chercheurs souhaitant mener des recherches sur les questions relatives à la décentralisation ou à la gouvernance locale dans les universités suivantes :

  • Université des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques de Bamako (2 bourses dont 1 pour un(e) malien(ne) et 1 pour un(e) ressortissant(e) d’un autre pays africain) ;
  • Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (2 bourses dont 1 pour un(e) nigérien(ne) et 1 pour un(e) ressortissant(e) d’un autre pays africain).
La date limite d’introduction des candidatures est fixée au 15 septembre 2019.
Pour plus de détails, veuillez consulter l’appel à candidature.

Academic Persecution: Independent International Crime or Subject to a Connection Requirement?

Academic Persecution: Independent International Crime or Subject to a Connection Requirement?

Around the world today, Turkey, Hungary , China, Syria, Iran & Uganda, scholars  and academics are attacked because of their words,  ideas and their place in society. Those seeking power and control work to limit access to information and new ideas by targeting scholars, restricting academic freedom and repressing research, publication, teaching and learning.

Scholars ask difficult questions and that can be threatening to authorities whose power depends on controlling information and what people think. When academics are silenced or subjected to self censorship their communities are disadvantaged. Every year thousands of academics across the world are harassed, censored tortured and killed. The persecution of academics has occurred repeatedly in the course of human civilization. Notable examples are the migration of the Greek scholars from Constantinople to Italy, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France , the intelligenzaktion of scientists and academics in occupied Poland and the arrest of Sudanese  biology Professor Farouk Mohammed for teaching evolution.

On 2nd June 2019, I submitted an Article 15 communication to the Office of the Prosecutor(OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The communication calls upon the ICC to conduct a preliminary examination on persecution as a crime against humanity committed against scholars and academics in Uganda. However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of the communication but rather to moot the conversation on academic persecution and its place in international criminal law as an independent crime. Is persecution an independent international crime or does it require a connection element?

Article 7(1)(h) of ICC Statute ,Connection Requirement and Ambiguities

The crime of persecution has always been subject to debate and raises fundamental questions.

Is persecution an independent international crime ?

Does the crime of persecution require a connection element?

Article 7 of the ICC Statute in the verbatim states that a crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,with knowledge of the attack The ICC statute further describes the crime of persecution in (Article7(1)h) :Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court. The statute goes on to  provide that for the purposes of the above : Persecution means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.

The ICC elements of crime provides the following  constitutive elements for the crime of persecution including the mental element as follows:

  • The perpetrator severely deprived, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights.

  • The perpetrator targeted such person or persons by reason of the identity of a group or collectivity or targeted the group or collectivity as such.

  • Such targeting was based on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in article 7, paragraph 3, of the Statute, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law.

  • The conduct was committed in CONNECTION with any act referred to in article 7, paragraph 1, of the Statute or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia(ICTY) has a measurable body of  jurisprudence when it comes to the international crime of persecution. For example, out of the ninety (90) who to date have been convicted by the ICTY, forty(40) had been charged with the crime of persecution. It is important to note that the crime of persecution was hardly applied in international or national law before the start of the ICTY proceedings. The ICTY case law dealing with the crime of persecution is one of the most important contributions of the ICTY to international criminal law. This body of jurisprudence clearly rejects that the crime of persecution needs to be subject to a connection requirement. The (ICTY), in the Kupreškič case, affirmed that:The Trial Chamber rejects the notion that persecution must be linked to crimes found elsewhere in the Statute of the International Tribunal.

The other dilemma that has emerged is the problematic formulation by the International Law Commission (ILC) work on the proposed crimes against humanity convention. The ILC formulation provides for a rather troubling connection requirement for the crime of persecution with specificity to geneocide and war crimes. Article 3(1)(h) of the Draft ILC Articles reads as follows: Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes. The chairman of the ILC drafting committee Mr. Mathias Forteau stated in his report that the act of persecution defined in sub-paragraph (h) refers to any act “in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes” while the ICC Statute refers to “any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court”.

I do argue that the use of the terms “in connection with” is vague, problematic and susceptible to many interpretations and misinterpretations. In sum these ambiguities trigger the need to moot a conversation on the international crime of persecution especially the persecution of scholars and academics and its place in international criminal law. Is it an independent international crime without a nexus to other crimes?If i  were to give the text of the statute its ordinary meaning or interpretation, persecution as a crime against humanity is an independent international crime without the need for a connection requirement. To my knowledge the connection requirement has no basis in international law and was merely a juridictional filter by the drafters of the text.

Scholars like Professor Gerhard Werle in the second edition of his book principles of international criminal law explained that “The requirement of a connection was intended to take account of the concerns about the breadth of the crime of persecution. With this accessorial design, the ICC Statute lags behind customary international law, since the crime of persecution, like crimes against humanity, has developed into an independent crime

Academics and scholars do belong to an identifiable group or collectively because of their scholarship. Perpetrators especially repressive and dictatorial regimes target such person or persons by reason of their identity as a group. The perpetrators often severely deprive, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights. It is important to note that the crime of persecution as a crime against humanity is not about numbers, the text of the elements of crimes uses the wordperson or persons”. In Turkey as of 2016 approximately 23,400 academics were persecuted by the Turkish authorities. In Uganda as of December 2018 Dr. Stella Nyanzi was arrested and 45 academics at Makerere university were sacked without due process. The appaling  emergence of  academic perseuction across the globe needs to be viewed from an international criminal justice persective.

In sum the travaux preparatoires among government delegates during the negotiations of the ICC Statute clearly illustrates that the connection requirement was simply a compromise clause and merely a jurisdictional filter. I do believe that the requirement of a connection to other crimes was simply used as jurisdictional filter considering the scope of persecution as an international crime. The unsettled field of international criminal law often tends to create new constituencies that ought to be subjected to further academic interrogation. The need to moot a conversation on academic persecution as an international crime  is not only neccesary it is timely.

Samuel Matsiko is a research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for War Reparations.He is also an early-career investigator and research fellow with the EU Cost ActionJustice360– Global Atrocity Justice Constellations”  . Email:  matsikosam@syrianlegalnetwork.nl.

A boost for regional sustainable development: West African Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation launched in Ghana

July 11, 2019.

Launch ceremony at the University for Development Studies in Wa, Ghana, with more than 100 high-ranking participants, students and researchers from six West African countries and Germany on June 26, 2019.

The West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation will address technological, socio-economic, socio-political, administrative and cultural aspects of sustainable rural transformation. It will do so by conducting interdisciplinary research and developing teaching programs. Research and teaching will bring produce the required knowledge and applicable technological solutions, especially in the fields of renewable energies and agricultural water management. In addition, locally adapted business models and administrative approaches will be generated.

Capacity building at the core

The basic component of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation is capacity building. Based on its long-lasting experience ZEF will be leading the collaboration with the University for Development Studies in Ghana and the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger. An additional partner, with whom ZEF has been running successfully Graduate Programs such as the Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies, the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana provides additional expertise and staff capacity training for the other African partners. The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Ministry through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall funding for the period 2017-2021 is approximately two million Euro.

High-ranking launch event in Ghana

The Centre was official launched on June 26, 2019 by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih in the presence of the Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, and other distinguished guest such as the Head of Local Government Services, Dr. Nana Atto Arthur, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger, Prof. Dr. Adamou Rabani, the country director of the DAAD, Lena Leumer, as well as the chairman and members of the university council of the University for Development Studies, as well as ZEF project leader Dr. Wolfram Laube. They were joined by more than 100 campus principals, deans, researchers, lecturers and students from Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Liberia.

Strengthening African networks

Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye explained that postgraduate training across the globe had undergone great transformation which required collaboration among the various institutions in order to provide excellent joint programs, supervision, research and teaching. He said that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation had begun to provide scholarships to a number of students within and outside the country to study at the university and had also broadened academic networks among the partners. This is leading to enhanced collaboration in research and academic exchange drawing on the expertise from of various partners for post-graduate teaching and the design of research projects.

Speakers

Among the speakers were Dr. Derbile, Dean of the Faculty for Planning and Land Management at the University for Development Studies in Wa in Upper West Ghana, host of the opening ceremony and also an alumnus of ZEF’s PhD program, Dr. Wolfram Laube, project leader at ZEF and Prof. Susana Barrera, Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Nacional University in Bogotá. All speakers expressed their enthusiasm about the opportunities for scientific collaboration across borders, language barriers and disciplines provided by this project. Lena Leumer, Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Accra, said in her speech how excited she was that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation was part of the DAAD-funded African Excellence Program (the the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies was also part of the DAAD Excellence Program).

ZEF Alumnus

Dr. Michael Ayamga, first Alumnus of the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies extended his thanks to the participants of whom many had travelled from far distances. Additionally, he reminded the audience of the importance of establishing enduring relations and networks to share experiences and knowledge for mutual benefit. The ceremony closed with the official commissioning of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation building on the campus of the University for Development Studies at Wa in Upper West Ghana. The campus is hosting lecture rooms, computer lab, as well as office space for students and lecturers.

First Summer School concluded

The launch ceremony also marked the completion of the first one-month Summer School of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation taking place from June 3 to June 30, 2019. The Summer School brought together 39 Students pursuing different master programs at the Faculty for Science and Technology at the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger and the Faculties for Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the University for Development Studies in Tamale (Upper East Ghana) and Wa. The participants of the Summer School were coming from six West African Countries (Ghana, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia).

Written by Dr. Wolfram Laube and Alma van der Veen.

http://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/%EF%BB%BFuds-establishes-centre-for-sustainable-rural-transformation/