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

Myanmar’s Former Civilian Leader gets 33 Years Added to Her Prison Sentence

By: Julie Yang 

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

Nay Pyi Taw, MYANMAR – On December 27, 2022, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s former leader from the National League for Democracy (NLD), received an additional 33 years to her prison sentence.

Suu Kyi was already serving a 26-year prison sentence since being detained by a coup staged by the military junta in February 2021. The junta formed the State Administrative Council (SAC) which seized power from Suu Kyi’s elected democratic government. This sparked a mass civil disobedience movement where people throughout the country partook in protests.

Protesters demand the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo Courtesy of Reuters.

According to the Assistance Association for Political prisoners, the police and military detained more than 17,250 and killed at least 2,465 because of the junta’s violent efforts to silence those in opposition of the coup. The junta’s use of lethal force and military-grade weapons against peaceful protesters and civilians, extrajudicial killings and torture, and systemic abuses amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

On December 21, 2022, The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution condemning the junta’s human rights violations and demanding the release of Suu Kyi as well as more than 13,496 political prisoners who remain detained for opposing military rule. The resolution demands the junta to “immediately end all forms of violence”, allow humanitarian access, release all arbitrarily detained prisoners, and respect the “democratic institutions and processes.” It urges “concrete and immediate actions” to implement a peace plan agreed upon by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The resolution faces criticism for failing to state the consequences in the event the junta does not meet the resolution’s demands. Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, asserts that mere “[demands] that certain actions be taken without any use of the Security Council’s Chapter VII authority” is not enough. Andrews stresses that targeted coordinated action by UN Member States is necessary to stop the junta and hold them accountable. Such actions include imposing sanctions, cutting off revenue financing the junta’s military, and an embargo on weapons.

After Suu Kyi’s political party won by an overwhelming majority in November 2021, the junta charged Suu Kyi with election fraud. Then, a series of charges including corruption, incitement of public unrest, and breaching Covid-19 protocols followed. Some pro-democracy activists were executed, and other government leaders stood at trial in recent months. Despite the junta’s efforts to extinguish Suu Kyi’s political influence in Myanmar, she remains a figure that inspires resistance against repression.

It is expected that, without action, not only may Suu Kyi remain in prison for the rest of her life, but also the crisis in Myanmar will worsen.


For further information, please see:

AAPP – Assistance Association For Political Prisoners (Burma) – Jan. 13, 2023

Amnesty International – Myanmar – 2021

HRW News – In Post-Coup Myanmar: ‘Death Squads’ and Extrajudicial Killings – Nov. 3, 2022

New York Times – Myanmar’s ousted leader gets 33 years in prison, a likely life sentence – Dec. 29, 2022

OHCR News – Myanmar action needed to stop carnage says un expert after adoption security – Dec. 22, 2022

UN News – Myanmar: Hundred of political prisoners released, but thousands remain in jail – Jan. 6, 2023

Ethiopia in Crisis

By: Brianna Sclafani

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

ETHIOPIA — A year-long civil war between the Ethiopian Government, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and soldiers of Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) has recently intensified. The Tigray conflict can be traced back through generations in Ethiopia, but the recent conflict began in the fall of 2020.  When elections were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, TPLF held regional parliamentary elections in defiance of Abiy’s orders. “Abiy called the vote illegal, and lawmakers cut funding to TPLF leadership”. Tension escalated between the government and Tigray leaders until reaching a breaking point in November of 2020. Abiy, assisted by troops from the neighboring country of Eritrea, ordered a military assault on the group in response to an attack on a federal army base. Millions have been affected by the civil war, and experts are worried that the spreading conflict in Ethiopia could destabilize the entire Horn of Africa.

Civilians walk next to an abandoned tank in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. Photo courtesy of Foreign Policy.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights led a joint investigation into alleged violations of international human rights in Tigray. The report highlighted the widespread use of sexual violence, torture, and unlawful attacks on civilians committed by parties on all sides of the conflict. October 23, 2021, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights released a statement reflecting its deep concern “about the escalation of the conflict in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia and its impact on the civilian population”.  The commission urged the federal government “to restore and facilitate the speedy and unhindered access of humanitarian aid and relief” to the millions of civilians affected by this war.

Now more than a year later since the original developments, Tigray forces, supported by other rebel groups in Ethiopia, have their eyes on the capital city of Addis Ababa. Current reports are conflicted as to how close the rebels are to the capital city, however, a new state of emergency has been declared by the government. While the state of emergency was apparently instated due to an abundance of caution, it allows for the conscription of any citizen over the age of 18 who owns a firearm. The armed forces have also asked veterans to rejoin the military. In a recent speech and multiple Facebook posts, Abiy pledged to keep fighting the rebels. The Nobel Peace laureate has found himself suspended from Facebook for these posts which violated the companies’ policies on incitement and support of violence. U.S President Joe Biden, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the U.N. Security Council, the African Union, Kenya, and Uganda have all called for a ceasefire. In a conflict that has already killed thousands, and displaced millions, it remains unclear how many more civilians will be affected by the crisis.

For further information, please see:

Anadolu Agency – Germany calls for immediate end to hostilities in Ethiopia – 4 Nov. 2021

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights – Press Statement On The Recent Airstrikes In The Tigray Region Of The Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia – 23 Oct. 2021

CNN – Ethiopia is at war with itself. Here’s what you need to know about the conflict – 5 Nov. 2021

CNN – Ethiopia’s leader said he would bury his enemy. His spokeswoman doesn’t think it was incitement to violence – 10 Nov. 2021

NPR – Rebels are closing in on Ethiopia’s capital. Its collapse could bring regional chaos – 9 Nov. 2021

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Ethiopian Human Rights Commission Tigray Report – 3 Nov. 2021

Reuters – Ethiopians denounce U.S. at rally to back military campaign – 8 Nov. 2021