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


ICC Prosecutor Announces Conclusion of Investigation Phase in Central African Republic

By: Sallie Moppert

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – After over a decade of investigations into the atrocities and crimes occurring in the Central African Republic, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would be concluding the investigation phase into a situation being addressed by the Court. The ICC opened its first investigation into the Situation in the Central African Republic in May 2007. The goal of the investigation was to uncover and examine evidence of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes during the armed conflict occurring in the Central African Republic (CAR) between July 2002 and July 2003. A second investigation was launched in September 2014 after a referral by the Government of the CAR, with this investigation looking into the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes occurring between the armed groups Séléka and the Anti-Balaka since August 2012.

Muslim families in a neighborhood near Bangui, trapped by the violence occurring, make plans to flee their homes.
Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

“Our work in the Situation in the Central African Republic is, however, far from over,” ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC explained in his statement. “My Office will now concentrate its efforts on ensuring the successful prosecution of those subject to arrest warrants and significantly deepening its cooperation with the Special Criminal Court for the CAR.”

Since the commencement of the investigations into the Situation in the CAR, several individuals have been arrested and charged with various crimes against humanity and war crimes. Two notable cases include that of Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, who have been charged with a multitude of crimes, including intentional attacks against the civilian population, murder, rape, cruel treatment, mutilation, persecution, severe deprivation of physical liberty and recruiting child soldiers. Another ongoing case involves the confirmation of charges against Maxime Mokom, who has been arrested and transferred to the ICC in March 2022 for similar crimes. The Mokom case was recently postponed by the Pre-Trial Chamber on January 24, 2023.

“Since the opening of these investigations, my Office has examined evidence related to alleged crimes committed by all parties to the armed conflict. It carried out its work in an independent, impartial and objective manner, in partnership with survivors, civil society, and with fruitful cooperation of relevant national authorities,” Khan said. “In the discussions held between my Office and Central African Republic authorities, we have addressed a common vision through which the focus of action for accountability will now move to the domestic level, with the committed and meaningful support of my Office. My Office stands ready to continue its work with and alongside the authorities of the Central African Republic, survivors, the families of victims, and civil society in the task that lies ahead.”


For further information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Central African Republic: ICC Investigation Needed – 26 June 2014

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Alfred Yekatom surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 17 Nov. 2018

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 14 Mar. 2022

ICC – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan KC, announces conclusion of the investigation phase in the Situation in the Central African Republic – 16 Dec. 2022

ECHR Finds Plaintiff’s Husband’s Right to Life Violated While he was Held in an Armenian Detention Facility

By: Marie LeRoy 

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) reverses a District Court judgment and finds that Armenia failed to protect Slavik Voskanyan’s right to life through its negligent provision of medical services.

Picture of hallway of an Armenian prison. Photo curtesy of: AZERNEWS

On October 7, 2010, Plaintiff’s husband, Slavik Voskanyan, was arrested under suspicion of murder and armed assault. Voskanyan was placed in an Armenian detention facility while he awaited trial. Eleven days later, Voskanyan began complaining of pain in his left shin. One of the detention facilities’ doctors immediately began treating Voskanyan for his injury. On October 19, the doctor noted that “crepitation was observed upon palpation” of Voskanyan’s shin and that “brown pus with an unpleasant smell” was found within the injury.

On October 21, a different detention doctor went to check Voskanyan’s injury and reported to the chief detention facility doctor that Voskanyan’s injury was getting worse. The doctor noted that they believed that the “infected area may possibly spread” and that Voskanyan was experiencing severe pain. Three days later, Voskanyan was finally transferred to the local hospital with the intention that he undergo surgery on his shin. Voskanyan, however, succumbed to the infection and died the same day in the hospital.

A forensic investigation was immediately commenced, and a panel of experts were consulted. The experts concluded that the detention facility doctor did not diagnosis Voskanyan correctly. The experts indicated that the October 19 examination should have alerted the doctor to the seriousness of the injury and the presence of an infection diagnosis like “gangrene.” They noted that the doctor should have recognized Voskanyan’s injury deterioration and reacted accordingly by changing the treatment method. The panel further concluded that the doctor, when noting the “crepitation” and “unpleasant smell,” was “obliged” to send Voskanyan to the hospital for treatment. The panel of experts finally concluded that it might have been possible, if the doctor employed the correct treatment and response, to prevent Voskanyan’s death.

Despite these findings, multiple Courts have dismissed Voskanyan’s wife’s claims for medical negligence because it is unclear whether Voskanyan’s shin injury originated and was made worse through methods of self-harm.

However, the ECHR found for Voskanyan’s wife, deciding that the domestic authorities did not do everything that was “reasonably possible, in good faith and in a timely manner” to save Voskanyan’s life. The ECHR stated that the dentition facility had a duty, because Voskanyan was “under their control”, to protect his life and that Voskanyan’s own actions were irrelevant to that duty. Therefore, the ECHR reversed the prior decisions finding for the Armenian government and held that the Armenian government must pay Voskanyan’s wife twenty thousand euros worth of damages.


For further information, please see:

Voskanyan v. Armenia – ECHR—24 Jan. 2023

Voskanyan v. Armenia –ECHR Communicated Case — 1 Sept. 2015

Nicaragua Releases Hundreds of Political Prisoners, IACHR Condemns Treatment by Government and Deprivation of Citizenship

By: Sydney Krause

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

Managua, Nicaragua – On February 9, 2023, Nicaraguan authorities released hundreds of political prisoners to the United States, declaring them traitors and stripping them of their citizenship. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“IACHR”) condemned the prisoners’ treatment during their detention and the “arbitrary deprivation of nationality,” calling for Nicaragua to repeal recent legislation permitting the revocation of citizenship.

Activists await arrival of political prisoners at Washington Dulles International Airport (Photo Courtesy of the Independent, Jose Luis Magana/AP)

The 222 prisoners were met in Washington D.C. by a small group of relatives and supporters. They were deported per an order issued by the First Chamber of the Managua Court of Appeals, citing national security concerns related to terrorism and economic destabilization. The U.S. Department of State said the transfer was made “unilaterally” by Nicaragua, but that the United States organized transport of the political prisoners who would be admitted to the United States for “humanitarian reasons” for up to two years.

Many of the releasees – including students, political opponents, journalists, and priests – were detained during President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on political dissidents beginning in 2018. Mr. Ortega described the prisoner release as part of a drive to expel criminal provocateurs and traitors from the country. Shortly after their release, the National Assembly voted to strip them of their Nicaraguan citizenship.

The Special Reform Law amends Article 21 of the Political Constitution, the basis for determining Nicaraguan citizenship. The change states that “the acquisition, loss, and recovery of nationality will be regulated by law. [And] traitors to the homeland lose the quality of Nicaraguan nationality.” The change also builds on Law 1055, known as the “sovereignty law,” which establishes that citizens who “harm the supreme interests of the nation” are “traitors to the homeland.” Under the amended Article 21, those sentenced under Law 1055 will lose their citizenship.

International law strictly prohibits the deprivation of nationality and rendering a person stateless. “Stateless” persons face immense legal concerns such as the loss of social security benefits, restriction of free travel, including to visit family, and the possibility of detention and prosecution by local authorities.

Nicaragua’s unprecedented action has garnered criticism from states and agencies worldwide, including the United Nations refugee agency, the IACHR, and the U.S. State Department. The IACHR condemned Nicaragua’s actions in its February 9 press release, citing international law and noting that Nicaragua has been a party to the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons since 2013.

Since the mass release, the Nicaraguan government has revoked the citizenship of at least an additional ninety-four people.


For further information, please see:

Associated Press – Nicaragua’s vote to strip opponents of citizenship – 14 Feb. 2023

Constitution Net – In Nicaragua, constitutional amendment revoking citizenship for crimes against state expedited, pending approval in subsequent legislature – 10 Feb. 2023

Department of State – Press Statement: Release of Political Prisoners from Nicaragua – 9, Feb. 2023

Independent – Why has Nicaragua suddenly released more than 200 political prisoners? – 10 Feb. 2023

New York Times – Nicaragua Strips Citizenship from Hundreds Days After Prisoner Release – 17 Feb. 2023

New York Times – Nicaragua Frees Hundreds of Political Prisoners to the United States – 9 Feb. 2023

NPR – Nicaragua has freed 222 political prisoners and sent them to the U.S. – 9 Feb. 2023

OAS, IACHR – IACHR Welcomes Release of Political Prisoners in Nicaragua but Rejects Arbitrary Deprivation of Nationality – 13 Feb 2023

Prensa Latina – Law in Nicaragua withdraws nationality from traitors to the homeland – 9 Feb. 2023

Reuters – Defiant Ortega frees political prisoners in Nicaragua, expels them to U.S. – 9, Feb. 2023

ECHR to Hear Case Regarding Allegations Against Russia of Human Rights Violations Pertaining to MH-17 Aircraft Crash

By: Kaylee Searcy

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

 AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – On January 25, 2023, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) announced that a complaint filed by the Netherlands and Ukraine regarding the downing of a Malaysian Airlines flight in 2014 would be “partially admissible.” The complaint met sufficient criteria and presented enough evidence to support many of the allegations and claims against Russia. Proceedings over the next two years will determine the case merits. Only then will the court issue a final ruling.

The verdict session for the case against Russia regarding the downing of flight MH-17. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

On July 17, 2014, a Malaysian Airlines flight (MH17) was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. With 283 passengers and 15 crew members, the passenger jet was transiting from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 individuals perished in eastern Ukraine when the plane was hit. At the time, it was the largest loss of civilian life in the intensifying Russia/Ukraine conflict. 196 people on the plane were Dutch, the remaining 102 were from various countries including Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Over eight years after the incident, in November 2022, a Netherlands court convicted three men for the crime and sentenced them to life in prison. All three individuals were found to have significant connections to Russian security forces and had obtained the Russian-made missile from the military. With a desire to hold the orchestrators of the attack accountable, the Netherlands filed a complaint in 2020 with the ECHR arguing Russia’s responsibility for the catastrophic loss of life on MH17. The complaint alleged Russia was involved in the downing of MH17 and failed to investigate or even cooperate with an ongoing investigation resulting in breaching numerous articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The specific articles include violating Article 2, providing a right to life; violating Article 3, prohibiting torture and inhumane treatment; and violating Article 13, providing the right to an effective remedy. The court acknowledged the amount of time that had passed since the plane crashed and noted that it was in the interest of justice to allow time for “clarity” and “sufficiently credible and specific evidence” to be obtained by the Netherlands before filing.

The ECHR’s willingness to hear the case and imply that Russia may be held accountable has been well received. Anticipated ramifications of the case are largely figurative and political. As of September 2022, Russia is no longer a party to the European Convention on Human Rights. However, since the incident in question occurred prior to the date Russia removed itself as a signatory, the court retains the right to investigate claims against the state. Russia continues to deny any involvement in the incident.

Further confirming the significance of this case are the 7,000 individual cases of Russian aggression in Ukraine pending before the court, hoping to be heard. In an effort to demonstrate that Russia cannot “escape the long arm of international law,” this is one monumental step in the direction of justice and culpability for the MH17.


For further information, please see:

ECHR – Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms  

ECHR- Press Release: Eastern Ukraine and flight MH17 case declared partly admissible – 25 Jan. 2023

ECHR – Press Release: New inter-State application brought by Netherlands against Russia concerning downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 – 15 July 2020  

Government of the Netherlands – Flight MH17: European Court to hand down decision on admissibility of the Netherlands’ inter-state application against Russia – 23 Jan. 2023

NYT – Dutch Court Convicts 3 of Murder for 2014 Downing of Airliner in Ukraine – November 17, 2022

NYT – The Netherlands Brings Russia to Court Over the Downing of MH17 – 23 Sept. 2020

NZ Herald – Russia-Ukraine war, Flight MH17: European court rules cases admissible, downed Malaysia Airlines plane included – 25 Jan. 2023

Reuters – European rights court rules Ukraine, MH-17 cases against Russia are admissible – 25 Jan. 2023

Simple Flying – Simple Flying, European Court of Human Rights Says Yes to Dutch Case Against Russia over MH17 – 25 Jan. 2023