Historic Election in Senegal Sees Youngest President in Country’s History

By: D’Andre Gordon

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Dakar, Senegal — In a historic turn of events, Senegal welcomed Bassirou Diomaye Faye as its newly inaugurated president, marking a significant transition from incarceration to leadership. This remarkable journey from the confines of a prison cell to the presidential palace underscores a profound narrative of resistance and democratic revival, highlighted in recent reports from AP News​​. Faye is the youngest president in Senegalese history. 

President Faye speaking before a crowd during his inauguration. | Photo Courtesy of AP News.

Faye’s ascent to the presidency is emblematic of a broader struggle against systemic injustices and the remnants of colonial exploitation. Released from prison alongside Ousmane Sonko, his mentor and a prominent opposition figure, just before the elections, Faye’s victory is a testament to the unyielding spirit of the Senegalese people and their quest for genuine democratic governance.

Faye’s commitment to eradicating corruption and ensuring equitable management of Senegal’s resources resonates with the aspirations of the youth, who have long been disillusioned by rampant unemployment and the neocolonial dynamics that have perpetuated economic disparities. His election represents a rejection of exploitative practices and a collective yearning for a governance model that prioritizes the welfare of its citizens over foreign interests, as detailed in the AP News report​​.

Echoing the themes of transparency and accountability, Faye’s decision to publicly declare his assets prior to the election serves as a powerful statement against the opaqueness that has marred political institutions. It is a step towards dismantling the structures of power that have historically marginalized the voices of the ordinary citizen in favor of a privileged few, reflecting a call for greater integrity in governance​​.

As Faye assumes Office, the composition of his government will be scrutinized as a reflection of his commitment to breaking with past practices and embodying the change that the Senegalese electorate has ardently yearned for. The challenges ahead are manifold, but the message is clear: the era of impunity and governance that serves the interests of a select few is over.

This momentous occasion in Senegal’s political landscape is not merely about a change in leadership but a profound shift towards a future where governance is characterized by integrity, inclusivity, and respect for the sovereign will of the people. It is a beacon of hope for not just Senegal, but for nations across the continent and beyond, grappling with the vestiges of imperialism and striving for a democratic ethos that truly reflects the aspirations of its people.

Senegal’s story, with Faye at the helm, offers a blueprint for a new kind of leadership – one that is rooted in the principles of justice, equity, and the unwavering belief in the power of the people to chart their own destiny. It is a clarion call for an era of governance that transcends the shadow of colonial legacies and paves the way for a future where every citizen has a stake in their nation’s prosperity, inspired by the details shared in the AP News article.

For further information, please see:

AP News – Senegal Swears in Former Opposition Figure, Recently Freed from Prison, as New President – Apr. 2, 2024

AP News – Senegal’s President-Elect Pledges to Fight Corruption After a Stunning Victory for the 44-Year-Old – Mar. 26, 2024

The Guardian – Bassirou Diomaye Faye sworn in as Senegal’s youngest president – Apr. 2, 2024

ECHR Rule Change Bolsters United Kingdom Plan to Relocate Migrants to Rwanda

By: Terrence Kane

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

ROME, Italy – A rule-change in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has bolstered the United Kingdom’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. The rule change will raise the threshold required by courts to place an injunction on removal proceedings.

Flight from the United Kingdom to Rwanda grounded amid legal challenges to the removal plan. | Photo Courtesy of BBC.

The Rule Change

The ECHR first announced that it would amend its rules in November of 2023. The changes were sought to bring the rules on interim measures more in alignment with the Court’s established case law. The change involved Rule 39 of the Rules of the Court, which are regarding the procedures on interim measures.

The language of Rule 39 was amended to include the line “imminent risk of irreparable harm” which has raised the threshold to institute interim measures, such as injunction. The amended rule language was announced on February 23, 2024, and went into effect a little over a month later on March 28.

While the rule change wasn’t in reference to any particular case or controversy, it is likely to have a very specific impact on the removal processes of the United Kingdom.

Effect on United Kingdom’s Removal Process

Under its current leadership, the United Kingdom has pursued a program of removing asylum seekers to Rwanda where the asylum seekers are meant to remain until their cases have been properly adjudicated in UK courts. The plan faced a major obstacle when the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled that the policy violated international human rights law.

The Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals decision that found that the planned removals were unlawful because it lacked proper safeguards to prevent refoulement, or the return of asylum seekers to their state of origin. The Supreme Court held that the removals posed a safety risk to the asylum seekers because the United Kingdom failed to establish that Rwanda was a safe nation. The Court stated there were “substantial grounds” to believe sending asylum seekers to Rwanda would cause them to be unsafe.

The analysis used by the Supreme Court in putting the deportations on hold is likely to be substantially altered as a result of the new language in Rule 39. Rather than simply finding “substantial grounds” of safety risks, courts like those in the UK that put the Rwanda plan on hold, will need to look for evidence that there is an “imminent risk of irreparable harm.” This new standard will make it substantially harder to challenge the Rwanda plan and reduce courts ability to issue injunctive relief.

For further information, please see:

BBC – Supreme Court rules Rwanda asylum policy unlawful – November 15, 2023

The Telegraph – Boost for Rwanda plan as ECHR makes it harder to block deportations – March 28, 2024

Reuters – UK plan to deport refugees to Rwanda to be delayed after new parliamentary defeats – March 20, 2024

ICJ – Press Release – March 28, 2024

ICJ – Rules of Court – March 28, 2024


ICC Office of the Prosecutor Targets Slavery Crimes with Landmark Policy

By: Remy Kane

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands – On March 19, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Office of the Prosecutor announced that a new Policy on Slavery Crimes is in the works. The policy will mark the first specific action taken by an international judicial institution to combat crimes of slavery. This reflects the ICC’s dedication to achieving justice for victims of such crimes and preventing the future commission of them.

Permanent premises of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands. | Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

Modern slavery encompasses sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor or debt bondage, domestic servitude, and the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. To quote Prosecutor Khan, “Slavery crimes are committed against an untold number of persons and populations, including child soldiers, persons forced to migrate or be trafficked, and persons detained, disappeared, or forced into marriage or labor that devolves into slavery.”

As of 2021, 49.6 million people were living in modern slavery per the International Labour Organization. Of those individuals, 27.6 million were subject to forced labor and 22 million were in forced marriages. Twelve percent of those in forced labor were children and more than half of these children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Child trafficking occurs in every country in the world and makes up a third of all human trafficking cases. Human trafficking and forced labor generate roughly $150 billion annually. These numbers are testimony to how slavery crimes are a grave and pressing issue.

The Policy on Slave Crimes will aim to take a survivor-centered, trauma-informed and gender-competent approach, and will be “rigorously implemented” once formulated, according to the Prosecutor. It will be in alignment with other recent policies tackling similar issues, including the 2022 Policy Paper on Gender Persecution, the 2023 Policy on Gender-Based Crimes, and the 2023 Policy on Children.

The Office of the Prosecutor has consulted survivor communities, civil society organizations, national authorities, international organizations, and other justice actors to help shape the Policy. To further aid in the process, the Office is also seeking input from the public. External experts are welcome to offer substantive comment on how the Policy can be best effectuated. Such comments will be accepted via email until April 30, 2024 (see more information about submissions on the ICC website, linked below).

For further information, please see:

ICC – Office of the Prosecutor Launches Public Consultation on Policy on Slavery Crimes – Mar. 19, 2014

ICC – Policy on Children – Dec 7, 2023

ICC – Policy on Gender-Based Crimes – Dec. 4, 2023

ICC – Policy on The Crime of Gender Persecution – Dec 7, 2022

International Labour Organization – Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking – Sept. 12, 2022

Lexology – ICC Opens Consultation for New Policy in Slavery Crimes – Mar. 20, 2024

UNICEF – UNICEF and The Fight Against Child Trafficking – Nov. 9, 2022





ICC to Hold First In Absentia Hearing Against Ugandan Rebel Leader

By: Tatiana Vaz
Journal of Global Rights and Organizations
, Associate Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On March 4, 2024, the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Pre-Trial Chamber II issued a decision granting Prosecutor Karim Kham’s request to hold a confirmation hearing in the case against Joseph Kony in his absence, should he not appear, to commence on October 15, 2024. This is will be the ICC’s first in absentia hearing.

The International Criminal Court’s Headquarters at the Hague. | Photo courtesy of ICC.

Joseph Kony was the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (“LRA”) in Uganda. The LRA is a Ugandan rebel group that currently operates in the border region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic (CAR), and South Sudan. The group was established by Kony in 1998 with the claim of resorting to the honor of his ethnic Acholi people and installing a government based on his vision of the Ten Commandments. From July 1, 2001, until December 31, 2005, the LRA, an organization within the meaning of Article 7 (2)(a) of the Rome Statue, carried out widespread and systematic attacks against the civil population of northern Uganda.

Joseph Kony is suspected of twelve counts of crimes against humanity including murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape, and inhuman acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering. He is also suspected of 21 counts of war crimes, including murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, pillaging, including rape, and forced enlistment of children between the years of2003 and 2004. The ICC issued a warrant for Kony’s arrest in 2005. However, he remains at large and is the only remaining suspect.

The Rome Statute, which is the treaty that governs the ICC, allows for a confirmation hearing proceeding at the pre-trial stage in the absence of the suspect. The confirmation hearing is not a trial, but it allows the prosecutor the opportunity to outline their case before the court. The Pre- Trial Chamber II consists of Presiding Judge Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Judge Tomoko Akane, and Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godinez.

Following the receipt of documents containing the charges against Kony and the Registry report on its efforts to inform Kony on those charges, the Court found that all reasonable steps to inform Kony of the charges against him have been taken within the meaning of Article 61 (2)(b) of the Rome Statue. The Court decided that the confirmation of charges hearing is to be held in the absence of Kony, should he not appear, and will begin October 15, 2024.

The Court also stated that it would ensure Kony’s right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defense under Article 61 (1)(b) of the Rome Statue, and Rule 121 (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence will be fulfilled. The ICC stressed this right in light of the fact that, should the Court definitively decide that there is a cause to authorize a confirmation of charges in Kony’s absence, counsel will have to be appointed to represent his rights and interests in the proceeding.

The Court also required that Counsel have sufficient time to prepare their case Kony’s absence. As a result, the Prosecution must provide the Court with information in terms of the evidence and witnesses they plan to call within four weeks of the notification of the present decision. The Court further instructed the Registry to commence the process of searching for counsel to represent Kony’s rights and interests during the confirmation process and confirmation hearing, should this take place in his absence. The Registry is instructed to report back on their progress within three weeks of the notification of this present decision, whom they will appoint in time for the Prosecution’s disclosure of witnesses and evidence they plan to present.

The ICC’s decision is most certainly a step in the right direction, as many affected communities in Uganda believed it was over and lost hope. The confirmation hearing provides many victims with the opportunity to finally have their voices heard. The ICC has also taken other steps for the victims affected. Earlier this year the ICC granted reparations of more than $56 million to the victims of one of the convicted commanders of the LRA. Victims include former child soldiers and children born as a result of rapes and forced pregnancies. The ICC is currently seeking more state and non-partner assistance to capture Kony.

For further information please see:

AP – ICC Awards $56 Million in Reparations to Thousands of Victims of Convicted Ugandan Rebel Commander – 28 Feb. 2024

AP – International Criminal Court to Hold First Ever in Absentia Hearing Over Ugandan Rebel Leader Kony – 4 Mar. 2024

Counterterrorism Guide – Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – ND

FIDH – Uganda and the ICC: Justice at Last? – 14 Feb. 2024

ICC – Information on the Kony Case – ND

The East African – ICC Prosecutor Seeks Support in Hunt for Ugandan Warlord Kony – 4 Feb. 2023

Reuters – ICC Allows in Absentia Hearings in Case against Ugandan Warlord Kony – 4 Mar. 2024


Ghanaian Parliament Passes Legislation Cracking Down on LGBTQ+ Rights

By: Cynthia Achieng

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

GHANA – On February 27, 2024, the Parliament of Ghana passed legislation that severely restricts and penalizes the LGBTQ+ community. Ghana is the latest to impose hefty penalties against those who identify as LGBTQ, as part of a growing opposition to LGBTQ rights in conservative West Africa.

A same sex-couple sitting together during a session on LGBTQ rights in Accra, Ghana. | Photo Courtesy of Francis Kokoroko/Reuters.

The bill seeks to punish those who engage in LGBTQ sexual acts as well as those who advocate for their rights with prison sentences ranging from six months to three years. It also imposes a three-to-five-year sentence for wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ activities. This new legislation will take effect if signed into law by President Nana Akufo-Addo. 

Human rights activists across the world have expressed discontent, calling the bill a set-back for human rights while urging President Akufo-Addo to reject it. However, the bill has received backing from Muslim, Christian, and Ghanaian traditional leaders who form a large part of the Ghanaian Parliament.

In 2022, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), Africa’s human rights watchdog, rejected applications by three Human Rights Organizations (HROs) for Observer Status on the ground that “sexual orientation is not an expressly recognized right or freedom under the African Charter” and is ‘contrary to the virtues of African values.” The groups, two of which were founded in Africa were Alternative Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights First Rwanda, andSynergia–Initiatives for Human Rights. In their statement, the organizations expressed their dismay over the decision of the African Commission which, they said, departs from measures to protect the LGBTQ people and violates the African Charter’s principles of non-discrimination and tolerance.

Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights provides that:

“Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”

The HROs argue that “other status,” as used in the Charter, is not limited to the grounds indicated in the Charter but extends to others, including sexual orientation.

According to Amnesty International, 31 African countries currently criminalize same-sex consensual sexual activities. As of March 4, the bill had not yet reached President Akufo-Addo.

For further information, please see:

Al-Jazeera – Ghana’s Parliament passes anti-LGBTQ Bill – 28 February 2024  

Amnesty International – Africa: Barrage of discriminatory laws stoking hate against LGBTI persons – January 9 2024

BBC – Ghana passes Bill making identifying as LGBTQ+ illegal – 28 February 2024

Joint Statement in Response to Decision of African Commission – N.D.

Reuters – Ghana parliament passes stringent anti-LGBTQ law – 28 February 2024

Reuters – Ghana’s president says anti-LGBTQ bill has not reached his desk – 5 March 2024