A war crimes complaint has been filed against Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Trump adviser Jared Kushner in the International Criminal Court (ICC). It is now up to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor to decide whether the complaint should be pursued. If the prosecutor launches a preliminary examination and finds reason to believe they committed war crimes, the court could then authorize a full investigation.
The complaint, filed by Middlesex University law professor William Schabas on June 30 on behalf of four Palestinians who live in the West Bank, states “there is credible evidence” that Trump, Netanyahu and Kushner “are complicit in acts that may amount to war crimes relating to the transfer of populations into occupied territory and the annexation of the sovereign territory of the State of Palestine.” Under article 15 of the ICC’s Rome Statute, any individual, group or organization can bring a complaint to the Office of the Prosecutor.
Schabas’s complaint comes on the heels of unusual moves last month from the Trump administration, which declared a “national emergency” in June in an effort to shield U.S. and Israeli officials from ICC accountability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Protesters demonstrating against white supremacy and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s public lynching have been met with illegal repression by law enforcement. Police have utilized toxic chemical and sonic weapons, dangerous projectiles, intrusive surveillance, physical violence and “kettling” to trap demonstrators after dispersal orders are given.
In a study conducted by the University of Chicago Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, researchers found not one police department in the 20 largest U.S. cities in compliance with minimum human rights standards governing use of lethal force. They called the use of force by police “state-sanctioned violence.”
Victims of police abuse are filing litigation, and at least one judge has put a halt to some of the most egregious misconduct.
Susan Sorella is in her last year at Suffolk Law School in Boston. When she began clerking for criminal defense lawyer Bobby Coughlin, Susan had no idea she would become a central figure in a murder case that pitted the mob against corrupt FBI agents. Or that she would be compelled to take the lead and risk her life when her troubled boss was poised to plead his likely innocent client guilty. Mike Avery’s new hardboiled crime novel, The Cooperating Witness, combines the noir tradition – the fine line between right and wrong – with a biting critique of the criminal justice system. The former criminal defense attorney, civil rights lawyer and Suffolk law professor knows his way around the courtroom and has written non-fiction books. But Avery’s foray into fiction writing is a refreshing surprise.
That’s not a chip on my shoulder.
That’s your foot on my neck.
On May 25, a Minneapolis police officer tortured George Floyd to death in what his brother, Philonise Floyd, called “a modern-day lynching in broad daylight.” Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in all 50 states and Washington D.C.; the anti-racist uprisings continue.
Why do a majority of people in this country now support the Movement for Black Lives? Why have calls to defund and abolish the police entered the mainstream discourse? Why are people risking the deadly coronavirus to join the protests? And why are we seeing what may be the broadest popular movement in the history of the United States?
More than 400 years after the first Africans were kidnapped, forcibly brought to this country and enslaved, White supremacy continues to infect our society. Police murder Black people with impunity. Black people are incarcerated at an unprecedented rate. And White fragility keeps us in denial about our White skin privilege.
The backlash against Donald Trump’s illegal show of military force against anti-racist protesters compelled him to withdraw the troops — for now. But we must continue raising the illegality of this use of the military and pushing for barriers to guard against future such deployments. The threat of a resurgence of this violation still looms because as the protests continue, Trump might change his mind. And if he loses the election, all bets are off.
Government officials, legislators, lawyers and civil society should strenuously oppose the recall of federal troops because it would be deadly as well as illegal. “Armed forces taking on protesters may cause them to go away, but make no mistake: People would die. And even one more death is too many,” Kelsey Baker, a former Marine who deployed to Kuwait and Iraq, wrote for Newsweek.
The rights of women to terminate their pregnancies and to receive free contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are on the chopping block. Those challenges to reproductive freedom are consistent with Trump’s agenda of pandering to the religious right while erasing Barack Obama’s achievements. The Supreme Court will rule on these cases during the month of June.
Burdening the Right to Abortion
Although the Court does not yet have a case that contests the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade, it has the opportunity to chip away at the right to abortion as opponents continue to erect obstacles to reproductive health care. Their strategy is to bring about death of abortion by a thousand cuts.
Donald Trump claims that while he is president, his pre-presidency financial records can’t be subpoenaed and he can’t even be investigated for criminal conduct. The Supreme Court will decide by the end of June whether Trump is indeed beyond the reach of the law.
On May 12, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether Trump can block subpoenas for his tax and other financial records that predate his presidency. Although prior presidents made their tax returns public, Trump has steadfastly refused to reveal his. In 2016, he promised to release them when the purported “audit” is complete. But they remain under wraps.
In April 2019, three committees of the House of Representatives and the New York district attorney issued subpoenas to banks and financial institutions to obtain Trump’s records. Trump sued to prevent the disclosures. Even though all four lower courts that considered the issue ruled that the records must be produced, Trump continues to stonewall, claiming in essence he is above the law.
After three indecisive elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his opponent Benny Gantz agreed to form a unity government in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the central pillars of this new regime is the unlawful annexation of the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. The annexation has the full backing of U.S. President Donald Trump.
“Using the time when the world has been busy confronting the COVID-19 pandemic to commit more war crimes is immoral and poses new challenges for the rule of law and human rights,” Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), told Truthout.
As the entire world grapples with the most devastating pandemic of the modern era, the United States is pouring kerosene on the fire in Iran and Venezuela. The U.S. government has maintained punishing sanctions against the people of Iran and Venezuela to engineer regime change. But instead of ending the sanctions to help Iranians and Venezuelans fight the coronavirus, the Trump administration has expanded them and exacerbated the danger they pose.
“The world is facing the risk of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster,” the International Association of Democratic Lawyers wrote in a statement calling on the U.S. government to immediately lift all sanctions against Iran and Venezuela.
Sanctions (unilateral coercive measures), collective punishment and forcible regime change are illegal under U.S. and international law. Donald Trump’s intensification of sanctions against Venezuela and Iran during the pandemic constitutes a crime against humanity.
Throughout U.S. history, presidents have exploited national emergencies to exceed their constitutional powers. Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Franklin D. Roosevelt confined people of Japanese descent in internment camps during World War II. And George W. Bush used his post-9/11 “war on terror” to launch two illegal wars, mount a program of torture, conduct extensive unlawful surveillance and illegally detain people.
In light of the national emergency Donald Trump declared on Friday, March 13, his Department of Justice (DOJ) is asking Congress to allow the attorney general to indefinitely detain people without trial in violation of the constitutional right of habeas corpus. The DOJ also seeks to hold hearings without the defendant’s consent and exclude anyone with COVID-19 from eligibility for asylum.