Tunisian Nations Denied Suspension of the Decree-Law and Postponement of Elections

By: Rachel H Sanders

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Senior Associate Member

BANJUL, The Gambia – Tunisian nationals were denied their application seeking provisional measures to suspend the enforcement of potentially anti-democratic election laws as well as the postponement of the Republic of Tunisia parliamentary elections. The Application was filed against the Republic of Tunisia which had recently received a judgment from the Court on September 22, 2022, ordering that the country restore constitutional democracy. The Tunisian nationals, named Ayadi Fathi, Khlifi Oussama, and Makhloufi Sofiane, were fearful that the President of the Republic of Tunisia was extending his extensive and unchecked powers by implementing “illegal and undemocratic acts which truncated constitutional democracy, leading the country into totalitarianism.”

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Photo Courtesy of ACfHPR

The Tunisian nationals claimed that the President of the Republic of Tunisia was attempting to set up a parliament that is completely under his control by abrogating the 2014 Constitution, initiating the dissolution of the provisional body in charge of reviewing the constitutionality of draft laws by the Decree-Law No. 2021-117 of September 22, 2021, and initiating the dissolution the of parliament by Decree-Law No. 2022-309 of March 30, 2022. The claimants alleged a violation of (A) the right to participate freely in the government of their country, protected by Articles 13(1)(2) and 24 of the Charter, Articles 1(1) and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 1(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), (B) the right to non-discrimination protected by Articles 2 and 18(3) of the Charter, and Article 2 of the ICCPR, and (C) the right to freedom of association, protected by Article 10(1) of the Charter. The petitioners focused upon challenging Decree-Law No. 2022-55 which amended and supplemented Organic Law No. 2014 of May 26, 2014, on elections and referendums.

In addition, the Tunisian nationals applied for a postponement of the legislative elections scheduled for December 17, 2022. The applicants claimed that “the Tunisian people stand to suffer imminent and irreparable harm in view of the fact that these elections may plunge the country into institutional disorder and political unrest for an unlimited period of time.” Conversely, the Court found a lack of urgency as the application was filed on January 6, 2023. Confusingly, the application and the request for provisional measures were initially filed on January 6, 2020. Despite that, it took until February 2, 2023, for the Republic of Tunisia to be notified. The Court provided the Republic of Tunisia a period to respond on the merits and on the provisional measures respectively within ninety (90) and fifteen (15) days of receipt of notification. The Court also requested that the Republic of Tunisia submit the names of its representatives within thirty (30) days. However, the Republic of Tunisia did not respond to the complaint.

In the end, the Court found against the Tunisian nationals stating that the request did not meet the requirements of urgency or extreme gravity and irreparable harm. The Court emphasized that these two facts are cumulative so that if one of them is lacking, the measure requested cannot be ordered. The Court recalled that urgency, which is consubstantial with extreme gravity, means a “real and imminent likelihood that irreparable harm will be caused before it renders its final decision.” The risk in question must be real, which excludes the purely hypothetical risk and explains the need to remedy it immediately. The Court denied the request to suspend the Decree-Law as the applicants never produced neither any evidence of urgency or extreme gravity nor evidence of irreparable harm, which would result from its enforcement. Due to this, as well the delay in the request for postponement of the election, the Court found that the Tunisian nationals’ request was moot.

The Republic of Tunisia became a party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on October 21, 1986, and to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights on October 5, 2007.  The Court’s order is provisional in nature and in no way prejudges the Court’s findings on its jurisdiction or on the admissibility and the merits of the Application. A dissenting opinion is being drafted by Bensaoula Chafika,

For further information, please see:

Complaint filed in ECOWAS Court of Justice Against Liberia for Failure to Act upon TRC Recommendations

By: Chezelle McDade

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

The Doe Regime in Liberia resulted from the successful coup by Samuel Doe against then-President William Tolbert on April 12, 1980. Doe and his Armed Forces of Liberia (“AFL”) suspended the Liberian Constitution and created an authoritarian regime. Doe’s former ally, Charles Taylor, led a revolt against Doe in 1989 which resulted in Doe’s death and the end of his regime in 1990.  Civil war immediately erupted in Liberia among the warring rebel factions. One attack, which has been called the worst single atrocity in Liberia’s first civil war, occurred on July 29, 1990, at a Lutheran church housing thousands of men, women, and children who were displaced by the war. Troops loyal to the late President Doe bulldozed the doors to the church and proceeded to gun down and hack to death approximately 600 men, women, and children.


A survivor of the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church Massacre displays her disfigured hand as the result of injury she sustained from the massacre. Photo Courtesy of Front Page Africa, James Harding Giahyue

Between 1989 and 2003 there were two civil wars in Liberia. Upon their conclusion and pursuant to the Accra peace agreement of 2003, an independent national commission on human rights was created as outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Act which was passed in May 2005. The task of the resulting Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (the “TRC”) was to conduct investigations, inter alia, of gross human rights violations from January 1979 to October 2003. The TRC was operational from February 20, 2006, until June 22, 2009, and issued its final, consolidated, unedited report on June 30, 2009. The TRC concluded that several individuals and entities, including the AFL were liable for violations of Humanitarian and Human Rights laws and provided recommendations on accountability through prosecution.

On the basis of the TRC report and the testimony of survivors, a complaint was filed in 2018 against the former colonel of the AFL, Moses Thomas, for his role in the massacre. Summary judgment was granted and damages in the amount of $84 million dollars assessed. Thomas subsequently fled to Liberia, where he currently resides without limitations due to the Liberian Government’s lack of action. On October 4, 2022, the Center for Justice and Accountability along with a pro bono co-counsel filed a complaint with the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (“ECOWAS”) on behalf of the Global Justice and Research Project (“GJRP”), a Liberian NGO, along with three survivors of the Lutheran Church massacre. The Complaint alleges violations of several articles within various human rights charters and the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and that the Liberian Government failed to conduct the official investigation into the Lutheran Church Massacre, identify those responsible and prosecute as advised by the TRC. The Hearing is scheduled for February 16, 2023, and a decision regarding this remains pending.


For further information, please see:

United States Institute of Peace – Truth Commission: Liberia – 20 Feb. 2006

United States Institute of Peace – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia – Final Report – 3 Dec. 2009

Front Page Africa – US Court Orders Thomas to Pay $84m to Victims of Lutheran Church Massacre; An Angry Thomas Condemns the Ruling – 22 Aug. 2022

Jane W. v. Moses Thomas Complaint – 12 Feb. 2018

Application to ECOWAS Court – 29 Sept. 2022

Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka scheduled for confirmation of charges hearing on August 22, 2023

By: Amanda Zumpano

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -On February 3, 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that there would be a confirmation hearing on August 22, 2023 in the case The Prosecutor v. Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka. The court believes that a charges hearing in August will be “an appropriate balance between the fair administration of justice and the need to ensure expeditiousness”.

At this hearing, the court will determine if there is enough evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Mokom committed each crime that has been charged. The case will be transferred to the Trial Chamber if the cases are confirmed and then trial will commence.

Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka appearing before the ICC judges. Picture courtesy of ICC-CPI

Mokom has been charged with crimes against humanity that include murder, extermination, torture and persecution. He has also been charged with several war crimes that consist of intentionally directing an attack against the civilian population, displacement of the civilian population, and mutilation. These crimes were committed mostly against the Muslim civilian population in the Central African Republic (CAR) and took place between December 5, 2013 and December 2014.

On March 2013, rebels known as Seleka seized power in the CAR, and their rise gave power to the Anti-Balaka. Mokom was responsible for coordinating these militias which committed crimes against civilians throughout the country. Tens of thousands of people were displaced due to the Seleka-controlled areas. The government tried to disband the Seleka forces but many ex-members committed counterattacks and caused chaotic violence and a humanitarian crisis in the CAR. UN peacekeepers have also been attacked and fifteen were killed in 2017. The ICC has been investigating the crimes since 2014. The Special Criminal Court (SCC), a UN-backed hybrid court is also permitted to prosecute crimes committed in CAR since 2003.

There was a warrant of arrest issued for Mokom on December 10, 2018 and the ICC took custody of Mokom when the authorities of the Republic of Chad surrendered him on March 14, 2022. The Chamber found reasonable grounds to believe that Mokom committed these crimes with the help of others or by furtherance of a policy that targeted the Muslim population and others perceived to support the Seleka.

The delay in obtaining justice for crimes under international law is often due to the difficulty in executing arrest warrants. Holding Mokom accountable is an important step forward in the fight against impunity in the CAR.


For further information, please see:

ICC – The Prosecutor v. Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka – 3 Feb. 2023

ICC – Mokom case: Confirmation of charges hearing scheduled for 22 August 2023 – 3 Feb. 2023

ICC – Mokom Case

Amnesty International – Chad/CAR: Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka must face justice at the ICC – 15 Mar. 2022

Associated Press – Central African Republic alleged rebel appears at ICC – 22 Mar. 2022

Global Conflict Tracker – Instability in the Central African Republic – 11 May 2022

Reuters – ICC says Central African Republic war crimes suspect surrendered – 15 Mar. 2022


From Child Soldier to War Crimes Commander – ICC Confirms Registry Transmission of List of Individuals for Reparation Samples for the Victims of Dominic Ongwen

By: Tracy Acquan

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associates Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands– On January 16, 2023, the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) approved a sample list of individuals for reparations relating to the alleged crimes of Dominic Ongwen. The Chamber was fully content that the “assembled sample of 205 victims” was “sufficiently representative of the universe of potential victims [in] regards to gender, age, alleged harm, alleged crimes, and alleged locations” of the crimes.

Children in Barlonyo, Uganda at the site of the war crimes. Photo courtesy of Open Democracy and Flickr/Roberto Maldeno.

This decision comes a month after the Appeals Chamber of the ICC rejected Dominic Ongwen’s appeal of Trial Chamber IX’s decision to find him guilty of war crimes. He was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment after being found guilty of “61 crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between July 1, 2002, and December 31, 2005.”  

Between the tender ages of nine to fourteen, Ongwen was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (“LRA”) “as he was walking to school in northern Uganda.” As the years went by, he rose in ranks from child soldier to commander in the LRA. Established in 1988 by Joseph Kony, the LRA is a Ugandan rebel group “currently operating in the border region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.” The LRA is responsible for displacing and mutilating people, abducting “67,000 youth, including children for use as child soldiers, sex slaves, and porters.”  In March of 2010, Congress passed the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Recovery Act of 2009” as a measure to support and assist in efforts to disband the group, protect civilians, and restore peace to the people of central Africa. 

Popularly known as the “White Ant” Ongwen is accused of committing some of the most horrific crimes against humanity which include but are not limited to rape, torture, mutilation, abduction, and recruitment of child soldiers. During his appeal, Ongwen characterized himself as a victim, stating that “I’m one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities.” His defense of “mental disease or duress” was insufficient to absolve himself of punishment. Ongwen’s defense was unsuccessful in proving that he lived in a “constant state of fear.” The imminence element of duress requires a showing that the defendant lived with “a threat of death or serious bodily harm” on a “continuing basis.” Ongwen was described by witnesses as a “self-confident commander who had disobeyed orders.” He even had a contentious relationship at times with Joseph Kony.

The ICC’s decision to accept the sample list is a step towards the goal of obtaining reparations for the 4,065 victims of Ongwen’s crimes. After Ongwen’s conviction, many activists feared delays in the reparations phase of the proceedings due to procedural delays. The ICC wanted to accept a sample “sufficiently objective and statistically representative” of the victims. The victims would be randomly selected by the “Registry within five main categories of the victims in the case.” This includes crimes committed in the camp of Pajule IDP, the Odek IDP, Lukodi IDP, sexual and gender-based crimes, and crimes against soldiers. Moving forward the ICC instructs the LRVs to consult with the victims on whether they “consent to their identities being disclosed to the Defense.” Many victims hope that these proceedings will serve as a “recognition of the harms” they have faced at the hands of Dominic Ongwen, “The White Ant.”


For further information please see:

BBC-Dominic Ongwen-from child abductee to LRA rebel commander -6 May 2021

Counter Terrorism Guide-Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

ICC-Decision on the Registry Transmission of List of Individuals and Relevant Information for Reparations Sample-16 Dec. 2023

ICC-Ongwen case: ICC Appeals Chamber confirms the conviction and sentencing decisions- 15 Dec. 2023

Opinio Juris-Managing Expectations of Victims and Sustaining Community Outreach-11 May 2022

The Conversation – Dominic Ongwen: how the case of a former child soldier exposed weaknesses in international criminal law- 16 Jan. 2023

The White House-Statement by the President on the Signing of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009-24 May 2010

Tanzania Reverses Ban on Teenage Mothers in School…Sort of

By: Meghan Wright

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA – In September 2022, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) recommended that Tanzania reform its education policies after ruling that expelling pregnant students from school violated adolescent girls’ human rights. The case, Legal and Human Rights Centre and Center for Reproductive Rights v. United Republic of Tanzania, was brought in June 2019 on behalf of six adolescent girls who were expelled from school for being pregnant, as well as all girls in Tanzania. This case centers around a 1960’s policy implementing a controversial ban that would remain in practice for decades.

15-year-old Tanzanian mother with her baby. Photo Courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

In 2017, then-President John Magufuli made official the 1960s policy that prohibited pregnant girls from returning to school after they gave birth. The late President of Tanzania did not want his government to educate mothers, saying: “I give money for a student to study for free. And then, she gets pregnant, gives birth, and after that, returns to school. No, not under my mandate.” This policy led to more forced pregnancy testing and the expulsion of girls found to be pregnant. Magufuli grounded the power to enforce this ban in the Tanzania Education Act. The Act states that expulsion for a student is deemed necessary when they have “committed an offense against morality.” Pregnant girls and mothers were deemed immoral by the Magufuli Administration.

In March 2021, Samia Suluhu Hassan, Tanzania’s first female president was elected after the death of Magufuli. The Administration announced that pregnant schoolgirls would be allowed to continue their education after giving birth. While they may return after giving birth, the girls are still unable to attend school while pregnant because “there are a lot of activities which may or may not be favorable for pregnant girls,” and “the situation will not be favorable for the other pupils.” While the lift on the ban allows mothers to return to school, pregnant girls are still disadvantaged while trying to obtain an education. The lift is a step in the correct direction for women’s educational rights in Tanzania, but many more steps still need to be taken.

In 2021, the World Bank reported that “[m]ore than 120,000 girls drop out of school every year in Tanzania. 6,500 of them because they are pregnant or have children.” Societal norms instilled by past presidencies – that expulsion is legally necessary for pregnant students – have controlled the educational rights of thousands of girls. This damage to those girls is not simply fixed by lifting the ban on them returning to school after they give birth. The Tanzanian government has pledged to adopt additional measures, but those remain to be seen. 


For further information, please see:

Al Jazeera – Activists worked to end pregnant schoolgirl ban. They succeeded – Nov. 27, 2021 

Center for Reproductive Rights – African Committee Recommends Tanzania Reform Policies That Barred Pregnant Girls from School – Sept. 20, 2022

Human Rights Watch – Tanzania Allows Teenage Mothers to Be Back in School – Apr. 1, 2022


The Guardian – Tanzania to lift ban on teenage mothers returning to school – Nov. 26, 2021