Publications & Decisions
Post New Entry
|Posted by Moderator on 14 July, 2021 at 11:35||comments (104)|
Field of Study English Private Law,
[Bachelor of Laws (LLB), University of Yaounde Cameroon; Master of Laws (LLM), Field of Study International Law and Legal Studies, University of London];
Erudite and highly distinguished Barrister at Law; advocate for the poor, the weak and vulnerable such as the pro bono cases he did for
exploited CDC cases; reliable and intrepid senior advocate for justice for the abuses subjected to member of the Cameroon Bar Council for many years;
Head of Chambers at Taku chambers; Lead Counsel, UNICTR; Lead Counsel; Special Court for Sierra Leone; Counsel ICC;
Honorary Member of the Law Firm of Angus Gloag and Jonathan Goodman and Co.;
A humble chain breaker; emeritus President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life of the governing council of the African Bar Association;
Celebrated Cameroonian International Lawyer, illustrious Lead Counsel for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Special Court for Sierra Leone, International Criminal Court; on the occasion of his 40th anniversary of practicing law [April 14, 1981 – April 14, 2021], by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, Doctorate Candidate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany,
Last April 14, 2021
I often do daily to update myself on happenings in the world, when
I came across an article by Barrister Chief Taku titled: “April 14,
forty years ago: the eventful journey of a humble chain
breaker.” Reading through the article as the large „the young shall
grow bus‟ made its way with me, together with about 90 other
passengers from Enugu to Lagos, Nigeria, where I had to board my
return flight the following day, April 15, 2021 back to Germany. I
had landed at Lagos, Nigeria on March 3, 2021, and made my way
to Enugu by bus to publish my research book on Prof. Dr. Bernard
Nsokika Fonlon, and four other books titled: „Speak French with
me‟; „Speak German with me‟; „Speak Italian with me‟; and „Speak
Spanish with me‟. I discovered that it was such a memorable day
for one of my dearest and highly revered cum distinguished
mentors. In fact, I consider Barrister Chief Taku more than a
friend. He has been like another dad to me. So, I decided to write
an encomium in honor of such an important day in his life.
Unfortunately, on that day, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, as I have
hinted above, I was in the bus travelling the 12 hour drive from
Enugu to Lagos, in Nigeria. I tried to put on my lap top to begin
writing an encomium for my dear friend, but unfortunately, the
burning Nigerian heat coupled with the uncontrollable singing of
the passengers in the bus did not permit me to have a cool head to
write well. So, I put off my lap top and just listened to the gospel
songs of the passenger. I decided to write the encomium
immediately I arrive Germany. When I got to Germany, my desk
was full with so many other pertinent commitments, which
prevented me from writing this encomium. I am thrilled to publish
the encomium today, a month and three weeks after the
celebration of this important date for Barrister Chief Taku.
Another reason why writing this encomium took so long was
because of the incredible profile of Barrister Chief Taku. Barrister
Chief Taku is unarguably and unquestionably a modest yet noble
and salutary contributor to the international criminal
jurisprudence coming at the heels of the scaling down of the
tribunals where he has worked worldwide, including the start of the
ICTR and SCSL.
The year is 1981, the month is April, the day is Tuesday 14, 40
years ago, when the chain of systemic prejudice and cultural
genocide broke loose and the young and vibrant Barrister Charles
Taku was authorized to do pupillage to practice law in the
Chambers of the legendary lawyer and politician Hon B.T.B
Foretia in Victoria. He was the first in several regards. The most
important was being a chain breaker, a role he has played with
determination, faith, humility and fortitude. He is grateful to God
for the journey which he has travelled so far. Coincidentally, the
date of Barrister Taku‟s commencement of practicing law is a date
well known with some of the most important historical world
events: 1) April 14, 1865 – US President Abraham Lincoln is shot
by John Wilkes Booth at Ford‟s Theater in Washington; 2) April
14, 1903 – Dr Harry Plotz discovers vaccine against typhoid
(NYC); 3) April 14, 1912 – RMS Titanic hits an iceberg at 11.40pm
off Newfoundland; 4) April 14, 1981, at 10:21 am PST (1821 UTC),
the Columbia became the first manned spaceship to land in
California. Sixty minutes earlier at an altitude of 172 miles over the
Indian Ocean, astronauts Young and Crippen had taken the space
shuttle orbiter out of orbit; 5) April 14, 1981 was the 16th Tuesday
of that year. It was also the 104th day and 4th month of 1981 in
the Georgian calendar. Thus, it was Divine providence that such an
energetic barrister from Cameroon would begin practicing law on
such an important date: Tuesday, April 14, 1981. Barrister Charles
Taku is presently Counsel at the ICC, and lives in Bowie,
Maryland, in the United States. He worked at the International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He was called to the Cameroon Bar
Association as a barrister-at-law in 1984. He has practiced law for a
period of 40 years, covering almost all areas of law practice. He is
among the first generation of international lawyers who were
invited to defend cases in the Ad Hoc Tribunals and now at the
International Criminal Court. He has had vast experience
defending complex international criminal cases. In addition, he has
had vast experience defending cases in Africa and the conflict
2. Encounters Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku
It would be interesting for the revered lectors to observe that I
have not yet met Barrister Taku facem ad facem (face to face). I
came to know Barrister Chief Taku precisely in June 2009 when I
was a Spanish Student in Xalapa, Mexico. I was a regular writer of
Vatican updates which I daily posted them on the Legda email
group. I observed that there was this Barrister Chief Taku who was
such a prolific writer and his name began to ring a bell in my
medulla oblongata. What impressed me about Barrister Chief Taku
was the quality and length of what he wrote. This greatly inspired
my skills in writing. In fact, whenever Barrister Chief Taku wrote
and posted any article, I would copy it, print it out and study it
line by line. I quite enjoyed his high vocabulary and refined
English and his use of words. That is how I came in contact with
this great son of Lebialem division, this respectable and honorable
son of Cameroon, Chief Charles A. TAKU, Esq. (Head of
Chambers), Lead Counsel, UNICTR, Lead Counsel, Special Court
for Sierra Leone, Counsel ICC, Honorary Member of the Law Firm
of Angus Gloag and Jonathan Goodman and Co.
Later, I was elated to see him on Facebook. I sent him an
invitation and he accepted. We then became closer and I was able
to read more of his writings and comment on them. We chatted
once in a while. On several occasions, he has proof read my writings
despite his extremely busy schedule. I discovered that he was not
only an approachable person, but a highly flexible human being
and humble. Over the years, I have confided in him important
details about my life and our relationship has been mutual and
profound. I look forward to meeting him soon in persona in the
United States. I have a profound esteem for his personality, his
writings and his practical deeds to make the world a better place
for the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless.
Startlingly, on October 28, 2020, Barrister Taku wrote this
message to me, after having seen all I was doing to promote the
legacy of Prof. Dr. Fonlon: “My Dear George: Great... Indeed I
followed in Facebook. If you have access to the archives of Dr Fonlon,
check for an interview I had with him which was published on the front
page of Cameroon Times in about 1979 or 1980. I was a student in the
University of Yaounde and a correspondent for Cameroon Times. The
Publisher then was Chief Jerome Fultang Gwellem and the Editor was
Zac Angafor. The interview was Headlined front page in the historic
newspaper „God saved my life‟: Dr Fonlon. Interviewed by Charles
Achaleke Taku in Yaounde. Dr Fonlon had an accident at Sabga Hill
in which his Volkswagen sommersaulted on that hill and he survived
miraculously. I conducted the article at his residence down central
town Yaounde probably behind Abia or there about. It was a lengthy
article that touched on several issues relating to his philosophy of life
and politics. I remember him saying that he regretted that there was a
dearth of genuine scholarship in the university system. Go back to
persons you have interviewed such Dr Lantum and asked if he
remembers Dr Fonlon having an accident at the Sabga Hill as you
descend to Ndop from Bamenda and if he remembers if it was
published in Cameroon Times. If you pursue it, you may get the copy
of Cameroon Times. The Gwellem Family may help you have access to
Cameroon Times archives. I was paid 2500 frs for the interview
making that my first salary ever. The article also brought my name
into public focus. Zac Angafor is somewhere in the USA, probably
Arizona. Chief Gwellem died in a motor accident in Yaounde.” I was
so thrilled and I profoundly appreciated his contribution to my
research on Prof. Fonlon. Infact, I eventually asked Prof. Lantum
about the Sabga incident and he narrated to me in detail the
incident. Thank you Barrister Chief Taku.
3. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: A dedicated soul
Like many Southern Cameroonians of his generation, Barrister
Chief Taku lived his childhood formative years in systemic
injustice. The transfer of the sovereignty of the Southern
Cameroons from one colonial contraption to another had profound
cultural, social, political and economic impact on him and his
generation. His Bangwa ancestral homeland suffered from German
devastating campaign and was neglected by the British colonial
administration. The area briefly gained some spotlight during
Southern Cameroons government and a short lived democratic
space preceding and after October, 1, 1961.
While in Primary School, Barrister Chief Taku was subjected
to political victimization because of the political orientation of his
mother. To remedy the situation, his mother withdrew him from
that school and sent him to continue his primary education in CDC
Laduma Mukonje Rubber Estate near Kumba where his aunt
lived. On their way to Kumba, his aunt and young Taku were
subjected to harassment and humiliation by fierce looking French
speaking Gendarmes in several control posts along the road. This
occurred despite the fact that his aunt procured two laisser-passers
at an exorbitant cost. The pain and shame of the humiliation they
suffered endures in Barrister Chief Taku‟s mind.
While in the CDC plantation, Barrister Chief Taku watched
and lived the injustices of everyday life. He prayed and asked God
to give him an opportunity to come back one day to defend those
labourers. The chances for the realization of his prayers occurred
when he enrolled in the Faculty of Law in the University of
He was among a majority of English-Speaking students who
were denied scholarship. They decided to organize a strike to press
for justice. Barrister Chief Taku found himself leading the strike
whose success changed his life. From thence, he convinced himself
that he had to apply to do pupillage to enable him to become a
lawyer. The systemic injustices defined his life, opened his eyes
and directed his destiny towards becoming a lawyer.
Barrister Taku notes that this event in his life came with a
mission and a commission to defend, protects, free and
give strength to the weak, the poor and the oppressed. He has been
faithful to the mission and the commission. I was quite humbled
and touched by what he wrote in this regard: “This is a mission
and a commission of honour. These are the very essence of
life which is humanity at its best and closer to God. God, we
know, breathed the spirit of life so that we may live and serve
him in humility and in faith. Yes, in humility and faith; for
these are the true attributes of greatness.” I quite admire his
humility despite his academic ladder and profile cum international
Narrating about his secondary school days, Barrister Taku
wrote: “Each time, that I reflect on these attributes, I remember the
emphatic gestures with which my secondary teacher explained to us, the
parable of the rich fool. Despite the reality of this parable, the
butchery of the innocent lives of the weak, the poor and the oppressed;
the thievery by the rich from the poor, primitive accumulation of wealth
and the genocide of innocent people to satisfy the power ambition of a
few, continue unabated. I dedicated these 40 years leading the fight to
protect the majority poor, the weak and oppressed victims from
these criminal kingpins; leaving the ultimate victory to God.”
From 1976 – 1990, Barrister Charles Taku studied at the
University of Yaounde Cameroon, and earned a Bachelor of Laws
(LLB), Field Of Study English Private Law. At the University of
Yaounde, Barrister Chief Taku hesitate to characterize some of his
lecturers and professors as prominent because of their involvement
in the politics of deception, violence, injustice, pain and
excruciating pain. Some of his professors and lecturers were Peter
Yana Ntamark, Professor Joseph Owona, Stanislaus Melone,
Nicole-Claire Ndoko, Aletum, Lekene Donfack Charles Etienne,
Emile Mbarga, Charly Ndobede, Sanda Oumarou, etc. The most
honourable of all was Professor Kisob. Several of his classmates
are honourable people. They are too many to name. It saddens
Barrister Chief Taku that some of his classmates are active in
prosecuting the genocide in his own homeland. However, Dr
Christopher Fomunyoh and Hon Justice Nkengla are persons of
extraordinary character, distinction and honour.
Coming from the English speaking of Cameroon, the challenges
he faced in Yaoundé were many. Barrister Chief Taku studied in a
hostile environment. French Speaking students subjected them to
ridicule by shouting and screaming, “Anglo, Anglo”
“Biafrais”Biafrais” every day they came to the Amphitheatre or
University restaurant; indeed, everywhere in the University
campus. They were disproportionately denied scholarship. English
speaking lecturers were discriminated against in promotions and
humiliated. It was a cultural, linguistic, political and economic
warfront for their survival. In short, it was a laboratory for the
actualization of the cultural genocide which has manifested itself in
its most violent form on the watch of the free world. They
struggled for their survival on a daily basis. Unfortunately, some
among them became traitors and agents of the oppressor. In that
capacity, they betrayed, persecuted and oppressed them. To this
day, they have constituted themselves into so-called fringe power
elites, elites associations, political party and intelligence spy
4. President Decree signed by Ahmadou Ahidjo on April 14, 1981
authorizing Barrister Chief Taku to become a Lawyer with the
Chambers of Barrister BTB Foretia
Barrister Chief Taku came across a decree signed by President
Ahmadou Ahidjo on April 14, 1981 authorizing him to become a
Lawyer with the Chambers of Barrister BTB Foretia, because a
Presidential dispensation was required for an authorization to do
pupillage to become a lawyer. Once a person was awarded a
government scholarship, there was an inherent obligation to work
for the government for ten years upon graduation from the
university. That policy was enforced mainly for the private law
practice which was tightly controlled by the President of the
Republic. The persons Barrrister Chief Taku consulted before
submitting his application advised him against, stating that earlier
applicants had unsuccessfully waited for six years. Barrister Chief
Taku had an option to go to ENAM, the School of Magistracy but
was apprehensive that the strike he led would stand in his way and
he would never have a promotion as a magistrate. Besides the
magistracy was very corrupt and used a tool of oppression.
Barrister Chief Taku preferred to defend the oppressed rather than
become a potential corrupt tool of oppression.
5. Barrister Chief Taku’s choice of becoming a lawyer
Barrister Chief Taku‟s choice to apply to get into legal practice
was deliberate and informed by circumstances which may be
developed into a book. A combination of circumstances and
experience informed his choice to become a lawyer. Here are some
of them as he clearly stated: “The democratic space and the liberties it
brought, were recklessly interrupted and eviscerated. Here is how it
happened. Empowered by Ordinance no 60-20 of 22 February 1960,
regulating the organization, administration and service of the National
Gendarmerie and Military structure, Sadou Daoudou Minister of
Defence under Ahmadou Ahidjo, signed Order No 65 of 13 February
1963 creating a Gendarmerie Company in West Cameroon. This
effectively kick-started a reign of terror which was felt in my homeland.
The terror intensified, with President Ahmadou Ahidjo signing Decree
no 66-DF-133 on March 17, 1966, “extending the state of emergency
in certain areas of the Federated State of West Cameroon”,
particularly, Mamfe Division, Kumba Division, Victoria Division
and Bamenda Division. My Bangwa homeland fell within the Mamfe
Division and therefore, under the state of emergency. During this
formative period in my life, I felt the effect of the brutality and abuse of
power under the state of emergency.”
6. Barrister BTB Foretia’s relationship with Barrister Chief Taku
Barrister Chief Taku comments that Hon Foretia was a very
brilliant lawyer. People who knew him will testify that he was
corruption free. He was disciplined, strategic and deliberate in
every action he took. There was no waiting or learning period
under Hon. B.T.B Foretia. He prepared cases with Barrister Chief
Taku and provided him crucial advice on how to present cases in
court. The first tool of great advocacy he told Barrister Chief Taku,
was demeanor towards the court, his colleagues and the
participants in the case. Barrister BTB Foretia told Barrister Chief
Taku that as Counsel, he should maintain his composure as natural
and as calm as possible and must avoid trying to adopt the
composure of someone else. While rendition was important, the
organization of the presentation was the driving force for rendition
to be effective. Barrister BTB Foretia was courteous to all
participants in a court process and did not ever take advantage of
the inexperience of young counsel to attempt to ridicule them.
7. Barrister Chief Taku’s first case
Barrister Chief Taku‟s first case with Barrister BTB Foretia in
the Court of Appeal, was before a panel of judges led by Chief
Justice SML Endeley (as he then was). They were counsel for the
respondent in a criminal appeals case. When the turn for counsel
for the respondent to make submissions, Barrister BTB Foretia
asked Barrister Chief Taku to rise and respond to the submissions
of the Prosecutor. Barrister Chief Taku stood up, summon courage
and began making his submissions, using appropriate language,
demeanor and composure exactly as his mentor - Barrister BTB
Foretia - has told him. Barrister Chief Taku was calm, deliberate,
organized and responded point by point to the Prosecutor, each of
his points supported by authorities. Occasionally, he stopped to
invite questions from the panel. They eventually won the appeal.
From that moment when that Hon. B. T. B Foretia put him on
feet in the Court of Appeal in Buea, and he has never sat down or
Later, from 2008 – 2010, he studied at the University of
London, and earned a Master of Laws (LLM), Field Of Study
International Law and Legal Studies.
8. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Into the arena
Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku has dedicated more
than two decades of this eventful career in international practice in
many international courts and tribunals which were established by
the international community to fight impunity. During this time,
he visited battlefields in different countries and witnessed
unimaginable human suffering.
He went in as a lawyer but was blessed with the human value
of sharing the pain and suffering of persons at risk and in dire need.
This provided him an opportunity to share the values of love and
sharing which were implanted in him by his beloved mother: Helen
Atabong Asaba Fontem by contributing to give back to the
suffering people, the true essence of humanity which they deserve.
I have found the joy in recognizing in these children, women and
men, dead or alive through my humanitarian engagements and the
several trials in which he has participated, the face of humanity to
which they are all connected.
In the same vein, Bibiana Taku wrote this on April 23, 2020:
“23rd April 2002 to 23rd April 2020, Nwa'Asaba Fontem, O'tabong
Asaba, Helen Atabong Asaba, my mother you left us to join your
ancestors and your creator. Celebrating your life and the huge legacy
you left is bitter - sweet. Sweet because your spirit is in us and you are
interceding for us from above. Sweet because your
successor, Fuatabong Achaleke stepped into your shoes very aptly and
continues to be the voice of the voiceless that you were. Sweet because
you didn't live to see the devastation of the palace that you were very
proud of. Bitter because your physical presence brought so much
assurance that I felt like you should live forever. I thank you for being
my role model and my mentor. Yes, you continue to guide and mentor
me from above. Thank you and I thank God for his gift of you to us.
Continue to enjoy eternal bliss.”
9. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: The month of April
Barrister Taku noted regarding the month of April: “This
occasion falls in the month of April, which is the mythical month of the
Saints in my family, from Fontem Asonganyi and his first son
Asabanchi Fontem, Fontem Defang, Mama Helen Atabong Asaba
Fontem, Fontem Njifua and several others too many to name.
This occasion, 40 years ago, was not an innocent co-incidence. It
occurred because it is the month when these Saints pay greater attention
and are united in prayers and supplication to the living God for me, the
family they left behind and all persons world-wide who are engaged in
the worthy mission and commission in which I am engaged. I am
grateful to them and their fighting spirits which live on through their
blood which is flowing in my living veins. The history books and the
museums in imperial Germany kept records of the bravery of Fontem
Asonganyi which have prolonged the battle for freedom and justice long
enough for me to come on board to lead a world-wide crusade for the
restitution of all the works of art which were looted during the German
incursion more than a century ago. These arts are today in museums
in Germany, USA, France and the Netherlands. The blessing of these
40 years helped me to focus my attention on the search for these arts and
their lost cultural significance in our lives and in our time.”
In October 1999, Chief C. Taku was appointed Lead Defense
Counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for
In July 2005, Chief C. Taku was appointed Lead Defense
Counsel at the Special for Sierra Leone.
From July 2005 – September 2012, he worked at the SPECIAL
COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE, LEAD DEFENSE COUNSEL,
for a duration of 7 years and 3 months, as a LEAD COUNSEL.
In March 2012, Chief Taku represented a client at the ICC in
March 2012 and the African Court on Human and People‟s Rights.
The above professional assignments are still ongoing. He has
successfully litigated a number of cases at the United Nations
Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, and in national
jurisdictions. His objective has been to contribute to world peaceful
and a just world order through just, fair, and balanced trials, that
are consistent with the values stated in the UN Charter, articles
1(3) 55 and 56. He believes that political skewed, selective,
discriminatory and victor‟s justice undermine the very foundation
of credible justice and breads impunity.
His objective has been to contribute in the enthronement of
durable and credible international legal order through credible
trials. He headed an enterprising law firm comprising lawyers who
have distinguished law practice is diverse areas of law practice. He
cherish the chance he got over the years to know in person and
practice law with distinguished colleagues from many parts of the
world, Africa, The USA, Canada, Europe and Asia. He is proud of
being among the first generation of international Criminal Lawyers
who have proved their mettle contributing to the development of
International law for the benefit of future generations.
From April 2015 – Present, he worked at the Employment
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Lead Defense
Counsel at ICC, ICTR , SCSL, for a duration of 6 years and 2
months, in the Hague, Arusha, Freetown.
Since April 2015, he is Lead Defense Counsel in the Bemba
article 70 case (Situation in the Central Africa Republic) for Mr
Narcisse Arido cummulatively Associate Counsel for Mr Dominic
Ongwen ( Situation in the Republic of Uganda).
From October 25, 1999, he was appointed Lead Counsel at
From October 1999 – Present, he worked as a Lead Defense
Counsel, at UNICTR ARUSHA TANZANIA, for a duration of 21
years and 8 months. He was primarily responsible for defense and
trial strategy and he supervised counsel, legal assistants,
investigators and staff in his defense team.
From March 2005 – July 2013, he worked at the UNHRC,
Counsel, for a duration of 8 years and 5 months, location at
Geneva, in Switzerland.
In July 27, 2005, he was appointed Lead Counsel at the Special
Court for Sierra Leone.
In March 28, 2010, he was counsel for Dr David Matsanga in
further investigation on the Situation in the Republic of Kenya at
the ICC at the Hague.
From April 2010 – April 2013, he worked in the African Court
on Human and Peoples‟ Rights, Lead Counsel for a duration 3
years and 1 month, location in Arusha Tanzania. There, he was
counsel for Mr Denis Atemnkeng in a case he brought against the
African Union (AU) for orders directing the African Union to
amend the Protocol establishing the Court to conform with the
Constitutive Act of the AU to grant access to a majority of persons
on the African continent.
He has written and published on International Criminal Law,
and he represented clients at the African Court on Human and
Peoples‟ Rights in Arusha Tanzania, the UN Human Rights
Committee in Geneva, represented major for firms in the Oil,
Finance and Insurance sector and advised governments, statesmen
and politicians on the African continent. He was legal counsel of a
major University in Africa.
From March 2011 – April 2013, he worked at the ICC,
COUNSEL AT ICC, for duration of 2 years and 2 months. He led a
team of very competent lawyers, legal assistants, investigators,
consultants and interns in the defense of an accused before the
Tribunal. He was primarily responsible for the defense and trial
From April 2015 – Present, he was the Lead Defense Counsel
at the International Criminal Court at International Criminal
Court at The Hague, for a duration of 6 years and 2 months.
He was a Counsel for Mr Pierre Desire Engo, former Minister
and senior government official in the government of Cameroon at
the UNHRC. He successfully proved 7 violations against
Cameroon. Although the UNHRC ordered the release of Mr Engo,
the state party has still not complied with the decision. Further
action for his release is ongoing. Mr. Engo was finally released from
prison custody a few weeks ago but restricted from travelling out of
the territory of the Republic of Cameroon.
10. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Testimony from
On February 26, 2014, Charlotte testified that she worked with
Barrister Charles but at different companies: “I worked with Charles
Taku on the research and production of my Master‟s Thesis whiles a
student at the University of London.” She continues: “I wrote my
thesis on the possible repercussions of the ICJ‟s judgment on the land
and maritime dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria (Bakassi). My
dissertation earned a merit grade. Mr Taku is one of the most
inspiring and dedicated leaders I have ever worked with. His advice
and recommendations were always data-driven, analytical and
structured. He provided beyond my expectations all the support and
coaching needed. Given the opportunity, I would certainly work with
11. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Man of faith
Barrister Charles Taku wrote on April 14, 2021: “Today, in this
occasion, I faithfully recommit my determination to serve God, the
Merciful, the Liberator, the Truth, the Life, the Light and the Saviour
with all the strength in me.” We see in this statement a tremenduous
demonstration and testimony of a man with a profound faith, hope
and charity and his total commitment to God.
12. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Beatrice Achaleke
On April 13, 2021, Beatrice Achaleke wrote this interesting
piece: “Dear Chief, Today you look back at more than three decades of
an amazing career in the legal industry that spans from the moment
you graduated from law school to the moment you took up your first
case to establishing your own legal practice - Taku's Chambers in
Buea. From there, you defied all challenges, worked tirelessly on your
career, and the hard work took you up the professional ladder to be
among the first generation of international lawyers invited to defend
cases in the Ad Hoc Tribunals and now at the ICC. Along the way,
you have acquired vast experience in defending complex international
criminal cases around the globe. Today you look back at a career path
filled with challenges that you had to overcome, moments of self-doubts
and successes, acquaintances, different working environments, sleepless
nights of deliberations and tough decisions. Today is the perfect day to
celebrate your achievements and to let you know how how much we see,
appreciate and try to follow your big footsteps in our small ways.
Thank you for always challenging us to greatness through your own
example. Congratulations on your anniversary in the law industry.”
13. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Kelvin Taku
On that same day, Kelvin Taku wrote this moving piece:
“Growing up, my Father and my Grandmother taught me many
valuable lessons, specifically: to be kind to everyone and to never give
up. These simple but important lessons have shaped my life in its
entirety. My dad is the kindest man that I have ever met. He never
talks bad about others, always helps other people, and always tries to do
the right thing no matter what the cost to himself. We are lucky because
he is our Dad. Please join me and my siblings in congratulating our
Father and our Hero for a wonderful 40 years career of fighting for the
voice of the voiceless.”
14. Testimony on Barrister Chief Taku by Ajong Mbapndah L
On May 20, 2021, Ajong Mbapndah L wrote a tribute on
Barrister Chief Taku titled: “ A Friend For The Oppressed-Chief
Charles Taku Reminisces On A Forty Year Law Career.” In that
tribute he stated: “Barrister Chief Taku has answered the call of the
oppressed with the same verve in a law career that recently clocked 40
years. From court rooms in Buea, Cameroon, to the Hague in Holland,
Barrister Chief Taku has answered the call of the oppressed with the
same verve in a law career that recently clocked 40 years. From the
perilous mission of defending Southern Cameroon‟s activists in the
90s, to seeking justice for victims of the Rwandan genocide, and serving
as a strong voice at the ICC against scapegoating Africans, Chief Taku
has left an indelible mark in the course of his sterling career. In a walk
down memory lane, the erudite Lawyer generously shares his
experiences and offers his take on seminal developments in across
Cameroon, Africa and the world at large.”
15. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: On the strike by Lawyers
Barrister Chief Taku commented that the issues which
Barrister Agbor Balla and his English Speaking colleagues raised
were not new. Learned senior lawyers from Gorgi Dinka, F.W
Atabong, M.N , Weledji, B.T.B Foretia, Luke Sendze, Chief E.E
Ebai, Ben Muna, N.T Tabe and thereafter their generation fought
the same battle but were ignored. When Cameroon applied to join
the Commonwealth, B.T.B Foretia submitted a petition to Chief
Emeka Ayaokwu Secretary-General of the Commonwealth on
behalf of the South West Lawyers in which the lawyers complained
inter alia: “As a matter of government policy, there are persistent
attempts to wipe out the common law system. At unification, we
envisaged a system where the two legal systems will co-exist side by
side......Under this system, there is the independence of the judiciary,
guarantee of human rights, the courts play the rule of unbiased umpires
between individuals and the state and regulate inter-state relationship
especially in matters of international trade.” N.T Tabe writing on
behalf of the Common Law Lawyers Association also complained
inter alia: “There has been a systematic and deliberate erosion of the
Common Law system, its ideals, principles, practices and procedures as
obtained and intended to continue in the territory of the former West
Cameroon.” Agbor Balla and our colleagues were highlighting a
systemic injustice which has defined the reckless impunity with
which a once free people have been subjected to systemic abuse and
persecution despite six decades of protests.
16. Barrister Chief Taku and the first All Anglophone Conference of
Barrister Chief Taku commented that the records showed that
the idea of first All Anglophone Conference (AAC1) was first
initiated by George Ngwane, Bate Besong, Francis Wache, Vincent
Anu, Verwesse and his humble self. Barrister Chief Taku had
resources to move the idea ahead in two areas. He had his law
office which would be used as the secretariat and the ability to
obtain a permit directly from Governor Etame Massoma for the
conference to hold. George Ngwane, the ultimate diplomat had the
mandate to convince political party representatives for the
Tripartite Conference to accept to host the conference as conveners
purposively to obtain the collective views of our people for the
conference. The AAC1 was a lost opportunity to avert the war
several years after and a peaceful solution to the ongoing carnage
17. Barrister Chief Taku: some of the high-profile cases handled in
Barrister Chief Taku gave equal prominence to all his cases.
The most prominent cases which he handled are hundreds he did
for the poor, the weak and vulnerable such as the pro bono cases he
did for exploited CDC cases. CDC General Manager John Ngu
preferred out of court settlements rather than face him in court.
The CDC knew that, with Barrister Chief Taku, the labourers had a
strong advocate on whom they could rely on to seek justice for the
abuses they were subjected to. Barrister Chief Taku defended
Ebenezar Akwanga and about 83 Southern Cameroonians who
were abducted from their homes and court-martialed in Yaoundé
for alleged attacks against Gendarmerie Camps in parts of the
North West. That case was a forewarning of the current crisis in
many respects. This was not an isolated case. The Military
Tribunal and court-martial of civilians has been around as a tool of
oppression since 1962.
18. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: member of the Cameroon
Bar Council for many years; President of the International Criminal
Court Bar Association and a member for life of the governing
council of the African Bar Association
The peers of Barrister Chief Taku elected him as member of the
Cameroon Bar Council for many years; President of the
International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life
of the governing council of the African Bar Association. He is
grateful to his colleagues in different courts and tribunals for giving
him an opportunity to serve and to contribute to the enthronement
of the culture and the cause of the rule of law. He is particularly
grateful to the distinguished lawyers of Taku Chambers for their
professionalism and the outstanding successes they continue to
record in courtrooms and professional environments around the
world. The most distinguished Hon B.T.B Foretia was an
astounding lawyer and a fearless crusader for justice. He put
Barrister Taku on his feet during his first appearance with him in
Court. From thence, he has not relented these forty years.
19. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Man of Gratitude
Barrister Chief Taku is grateful to the women and men with
whom he has been engaged in all the aspects of the administration
of justice and the struggle for a just, free and peaceful world.
Although they play different roles we are united in a common
objective, in which justice is the sole winner. He is grateful to his
family and the entire Taku and Fontem families. Mbe Taku, his
dad was a hero and a warrior while his wife Mama Helen Atabong
Asaba Fontem was a distinguished community leader, education
advocate, politician, development agent, philanthropist and an
extraordinary crusader for justice. Barrister Taku‟s wife Antonia,
his children Kelvin, Barbara, Ngwing and Atabong are his best
friends of all times.
Above all, Barrister Taku states that “there is a time in one‟s
life when a sister is everything in one‟s life. My sister Bibiana Taku
was a class and bench mate, a friend and a manifestation of the endless
love of God to me and humanity.” Barrister Taku‟s „Law Practice
Career‟ is unquestionably and unarguably the eventful journey of a
humble chain breaker.
20. Barrister Chief Taku and international practice
Barrister Chief Taku noted that the Court martial of Southern
Cameroons civilians in the Military Tribunal in Yaoundé was
intermittently reported by VOA with the news of the trials in
Arusha. The confrontation was between Barrister Chief Taku and
the President of the Court-martial Col. Manga who became very
partisan was reported on the VOA. Col. Manga attempted to stop
Barrister Chief Taku from raising objections to the jurisdiction of
the Court-martial over abducted civilian Southern Cameroonians
from their homes out of jurisdiction for trial in a language they did
not understand and without the possibility of calling witnesses. In
error, he thought he could bully Barrister Chief Taku. Barrister
Chief Taku reminded him it was not possible. In anger, he
suspended the case and gave a long adjournment. The next day,
Barrister Chief Taku was at the Supreme Court where he filed a
motion for conflict of jurisdiction on December 10, 1997 and left for
Tanzania to enroll on the roaster of lawyers at the ICTR. Barrister
Chief Taku returned and left for Washington DC where he was
interviewed several times over the VOA by Scot Steanne. Barrister
Chief Taku exposed the sham to the world. One day, a phone call
was received in Barrister Chief Taku‟s Chamber in Buea asking him
to report to ICTR, Arusha Tanzania. Barrister Chief Taku arrived
on October 23, 1999, a week after Mwalimu Julius Kambarage
Nyerere on October 14, 1999 to begin his international practice
that has continued till date.
21. Barrister Chief Taku and cases on the Rwandan genocide in
Barrister Chief Taku stressed that the lesson from the trials in
Arusha and the Special Court for Sierra Leone are that war is bad
for everyone and that the sanctity of human life must be the
preoccupation for all. Africa must have a robust mechanism for
the early detection and prevention of conflicts on the continent.
When conflicts occur, he continues, it must take prompt and
transparent action to address their root causes. Finally, Africa
needs to establish a transitional justice mechanism to fight
impunity and atrocity crimes in the continent. Such a mechanism
must target all perpetrators no matter their status. The sad reality
is that the ghost of colonialism very much alive in Africa. Africa is
in need of genuine freedom, economic sovereignty, democracy and
visionary leadership, he concluded.
22. Barrister Chief Taku and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
Barrister Chief Taku is one of the first persons to make the
charge that the ICC was selectively targeting Africa. He repeatedly
made the charge during international conferences. Barrister Chief
Taku was invited by Professor Richard Steinberg of the University
of California Los Angeles to write a chapter on this matter in book
he edited on the ICC with a forward by Fatou Bensouda the Chief
Prosecutor of the ICC. Barrister Chief Taku elucidated that the
ICC is not a foe of Africa. There is no doubt that there are atrocity
crimes committed in Africa which warrant ICC intervention.
Barrister Chief Taku‟s concern was the politicization of some of the
cases such as the interventions in Cote D‟Ivoire, Kenya and Libya.
Barrister Chief Taku was concerned about foreign influences and
the manipulation ICC interventions to target and resolve political
problems. When a court targets only the vanquish in a conflict,
that becomes victor‟s justice. Barrister Chief Taku was also
concerned that in its two decades of existence, the Court was still
very much an African Court. It did not represent the face of our
diverse universe that it was established to serve. Barrister Chief
Taku underscored the fact that even in African conflicts, the
perpetrators of atrocity crimes are not all Africans. Barrister Chief
Taku cited the example of arms for minerals merchants who are the
driving forces behind some African conflicts in which atrocity
crimes are committed. Many of them are not Africans. They too
must be prosecuted, he insisted.
23. Barrister Chief Taku: Reading of the current situation of the
Anglophone crisis in Cameroon
Barrister Chief Taku has avoided using the name „Anglophone‟
since it became a derogatory name used to stigmatize and ridicule
us in the University of Yaoundé. Barrister Chief Taku‟s
involvement in the search for solutions to the conflict and the
genocide is well known. There are no realistic internal solutions to a
conflict which is international in nature. Barrister Chief Taku
insists that the Government of Cameroon should submit to an
international conflict resolution mechanism that is consistent with
article 33 of the UN Charter for the resolution of this conflict such
as the Swiss Mediation or any other credible international
mechanism. There is no military solution to this conflict, he stated.
Barrister Chief Taku makes it crystal clear that Cameroon must
accept an internationally endorsed mediation to address the root
causes of this conflict. The war declared and prosecuted by
Cameroon in which atrocity crimes are committed in a large scale
shocking the conscience of humanity, is unjustified and
unwarranted, he noted. He notes that some persons have reduced
the debate about the conflict into support of federalism and
support of the actualization of the independence of the Southern
Cameroons. According to Barrister Chief Taku, whether federalism
or independence, the Republic of Cameroon has not accepted any
of them and has not even accepted a peaceful option to war and the
ongoing genocide. So far, the historical basis of the case no matter
what, is not yet acceptable to the Republic of Cameroon. He
further expounds that Cameroon is under the illusion that it can
impose a military solution to the conflict. He states that Cameroon
cannot and will never win in battle, in mediation or an
international court. Cameroon believes it is playing for time, but
time is not on its side. For him, time will only crystalize and
galvanize international opinion to seek accountability for the
crimes committed in the war while the territory becomes
ungovernable. Only an international mediation process to address
the root causes may resolve the crisis and bring about peace, he
24. Barrister Chief Taku: dedication to lasting peace
Barrister Chief Taku address where he fell short,
demonstrating the humble and human person that he is. He has
dedicated so much time and energy working for peace in his
homeland and in all African conflicts. The slow pace of
international intervention in the crisis and genocide in his ancestral
home in particular, is disturbing. The devastation of war is
unwarranted. The crimes must stop, he insisted, and perpetrators
held accountable. It is disturbing for Barrister Chief Taku to see
massacres, genocide, butchery of innocent civilians in my
homeland. Barrister Chief Taku sees young Africans fleeing Africa
and dying in the Sahara, Mediterranean Sea and South America
escaping dictatorship, mass murder and harsh economic conditions,
in the midst of plenty, while their peers in other continents are
being trained to become agents of development for better living
conditions for themselves, their communities and their countries.
Barrister Chief Taku has spent a considerable amount of time
fighting these injustices, but they are persisting.
25. Barrister Chief Taku: President of the International Criminal
Court Bar Association
Barrister Chief Taku was elected by his peers from all parts of
the world as President of the International Criminal Court Bar
Association. Barrister Chief Taku was also elected as a member for
life of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association. I was
the vice President when Karim Khan QC, the new Prosecutor of
the ICC signed the very first cooperation agreement between the
ICCBA and African Bar Association. Barrister Chief Taku
presented a historic address to the Assembly of State Parties
Conference of the ICC on the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute
and also the Plenary of the opening of the judicial year of the ICC.
Barrister Chief Taku was invited by the Foreign Affairs Committee
of the House of Commons to make a submission on a discrete issue
on the UK multilateral treaty regime. During his eventful
professional journey, Barrister Chief Taku was invited to address
the annual conference of the Federal Administrative Judges of the
United States. Barrister Chief Taku has adviced and represented
governments in international and national courts with respectable
outcomes. His greatest satisfaction resides with his interaction and
assistance to the poor, helpless people whom he found in conflicts
in several parts of Africa. In Nyange Parish and Nyangasambu hill
in Rwanda, with amputees in Sierra Leone, with refugees, who fled
the scourge of war all over Africa and are in Europe, the human
condition in Africa is not good at all.
26. Barrister Chief Taku and young Lawyers out there
Barrister Chief Taku reminded young lawyers what B.T.B
Foretia – his mentor - told him when he embarked on this journey.
He advised them that honesty and hard work are the keys to
success. That corruption kills the spirit and soul of humans. That
character matters. And that although justice is administered by
humans, true justice belongs to God and that with God, they will
succeed. He adds that they must know that the frontiers of the
world have expanded well beyond their town or country of origin.
And that technology has brought the world into their bedrooms,
their palms and their suitcases. They need to get out to the world
and network with their peers in other continents. They must free
themselves from the shackles of ignorance and break the
asphyxiating chains of tyranny which have held a majority of
27. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku : Interests
His interest include: International Criminal Court, Civil Rights
Defenders, United Nations Investigative Team to Promote
Accountability against Da‟esh/ISIL Crimes (UNITAD), LAW jobs
- Networking for LEGAL PROFESSIONALS - Legal jobs - Legal
28. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Licenses and
Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku has licences in Barrister at
law, JRR Certification, UNDSS and UNBSIFT certification.
29. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Skills and endorsements
He possesses skills in International Law, Legal Research, and
30. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Polyglot
Barrister Chief Taku is a polyglot. He speaks the following
languages: Bamileke languages, Bangwa, Creoles, Pidgin English,
English, French and Swahili.
31. Chief Barrister Charles Achaleke Taku: Project
Barrister Taku has carried out projects on Contextual
Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence.
32. Barrister Chief Charles Achaleke Taku: Prolific Writer
Barrister Chief Taku is a prolific writer who has written more than
100 articles. He is the author of “Contextual Foundations Of
International Criminal Jurisprudence: Selected Cases An Insider‟s
Perspective Paperback – 17 Nov. 2012, English edition”. In order
not to make this encomium too long, I have decided to write
another encomium dedicated to the writings of Barrister Chief
Taku which I will publish soon.
The 40 years anniversary of practicing law provided Barrister
Taku an opportunity to train and mentor young colleagues from all
legal cultures, races from all the continents who are today, leading
lawyers in their respective countries and in international practice.
They remain professional connected. This closeness is what the
beauty of this profession is about. He is fascinated by the sense of
enquiry, curiosity and mental alertness of my interns. Barrister
Taku them the offspring of modern technology because of the
remarkable contributions they have brought to workplace during
these changing times. Many of them are today, successful
academics and lawyers in many parts of the world. The extensive
profile and international experience of Barrister Chief Taku speaks
for itself. I wish Barrister Chief Taku the very best on the ruby
jubilee of practicing law. May the good Lord continue to bless him
with long life, good health, constant joy and happiness, and the
realization of all his projects and dreams. Amen.
Respectfully, affectionately and prayerfully submitted today for
publication, June 8, 2021.
Written by Nchumbonga George Lekelefac, B. Phil. (Mexico),
S.T.B. (Roma), JCL/MCL. (Ottawa); Dip. in English, French,
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German and Dutch; Doctorate
Candidate, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster, Germany,
June 8, 2021.
|Posted by Moderator on 14 July, 2021 at 10:55||comments (9)|
Click here to download the full transcripts of the Prosecutor of the tribunal vs augustin ndindiliyimana, françois-xavier nzuwonemeye, innocent sagahutu and augustin bizimungu
THE PROSECUTOR OF THE TRIBUNAL Vs. AUGUSTIN NDINDILIYIMANA, FRANCOIS-XAVIER NZUWONEMEYE, NNOCENT SAGAHUTU and AUGUSTIN BIZIMUNGU
|Posted by Moderator on 14 July, 2021 at 10:35||comments (34)|
THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA
CASE NO.: ICTR-00-56-T
OF THE TRIBUNAL
MONDAY, 20 NOVEMBER 2006
Before the Judges:
Joseph Asoka de Silva, Presiding
Seon Ki Park
For the Registry:
Mr. Roger Noël Kouambo (Canada)
Mr. Issa Toure
Mr. Abraham Koshopa
For the Prosecution:
Mr. Ciré Aly Bâ
Mr. Segun Jegede
Mr. Moussa Sefon
Mr. Abubacarr Tambadou
Ms. Felistas Mushi
For the Accused Augustin Ndindiliyimana:
Mr. Christopher Black
For the Accused François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye:
Mr. Charles Taku
Mr. Hamuli Rety
For the Accused Innocent Sagahutu:
Mr. Fabien Segatwa
Mr. Seydou Doumbia
For the Accused Augustin Bizimungu:
Mr. Ronnie MacDonald
Ms. Kirstin McLean
Ms. Leslie Todd
Ms. Sithembiso Moyo
Ms. Eleanor Bastian
I N D E X
For the Prosecution:
Examination-in-chief by Mr. Bâ 20
P R O C E E D I N G S
Good afternoon (inaudible).
Registrar, if you could call the case.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, composed of Judge Joseph Asoka de Silva, presiding, Judge Taghrid Hikmet, and Judge Seon Ki Park, is now sitting today, Monday 20 November 2006, for the continuation of the trial in the matter of the Prosecutor versus Augustin Bizimungu, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, François Xavier Nzuwonemeye, and Innocent Sagahutu, case number ICTR 00 56 T.
I thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. Prosecutor, could you kindly enter the appearances, please?
I thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, Your Honours, the Office of the Prosecutor is represented this morning by Mr. Mussa, trial attorney; Mr. Segun Jegede, trial attorney; Mrs. Felistas Mushi, assistant trial attorney; Madams Faria Rekkas and Anne Bodley, case managers; we have our two legal interns; and Mr. Adamou Allagouma, investigator. My name is Ciré Bâ; I am senior trial attorney. I thank you.
Thank you. The Defence, please?
Good morning, Your Honours. At this point in time I want to introduce part of my team and will ask you to for your authorisation so I could get on record the very short statement, given the absence of my client, as you would notice. So my assistant legal assistant, Etienne Mutabazi, and intern, Sarah Bowghanmi. Ronnie MacDonald for General Bizimungu.
(Microphone not activated)
Yes, I'd like the my client is also not here, and I would like permission to state the reasons why as well.
May it please Your Honours, I am chief counsel Taku for the Accused, François Nzuwonemeye. With me today is Haumli Rety, co counsel, and my legal assistant is Mr. Tharcisse Gatarama.
Yes, Mr. Segatwa?
Good morning or, good afternoon, Mr. President, good afternoon, Your Honours. My client is also absent. I want to give the reasons for his absence. My team comprises myself, lead counsel, Seydou Doumbia, co counsel, and Mathieu Sahinkuye, legal assistant. I thank you, Mr. President.
Mr. President, I notice that we will have four statements. Time is against us and we are eating into that time. Would it not be possible for the Defence to organise themselves so as to make just one statement? Because I presume that the reasons to be put forward by the various Defence counsel are more or less similar.
Yes, Mr. MacDonald?
I don't I don't think so, Your Honour. We there are four accused; I think we should speak for themselves.
General Bizimungu has chosen not to attend this part of the procedures on the grounds that, primo, you've deprived him of his right to confront, face to face, his accuser, Roméo Dallaire, and secondo, by applying rigid time constraints in preference to less restrictive methods of control over Witness Dallaire's cross examination. You have subjugated General Bizimungu's right to a fair trial to political and economic pressures imposed upon you by the United Nations Security Council through the completion strategy.
Moreover, through this Court's recent rulings, namely the decision of October the 20th on reconsideration of the initial ruling of September the 15th, in which ruling you will recall you had denied the Prosecutor's motion to have General Dallaire testify by video conference, well, that was taken away from us, and also, based on your decision of November the 3rd on rescheduling order, all of which clearly illustrates this Court's priorities in accommodating Witness Dallaire's agenda over my client's undeniable right to a fair trial.
From these illustrations, one could conclude to this Court's undefendable abdication of its moral as well as judicial responsibilities in ensuring my client a fair trial. General Bizimungu is not getting a fair trial in this Chamber. For these reasons alone I entirely support his actions. Now, by severely restricting all right to cross examination, Your Honour, you are preventing me from providing effective assistant to my client. Therefore, General Bizimungu has temporarily released myself and Maître St Laurent under obligations as co and lead counsel for his defence.
And I would like to put on record, Your Honour, I have a statement from General Bizimungu, a 12 paragraph statement, where he
Well, you have summarised his intentions so we can accept this document.
Well, I will insist on having this read. I know that you have very rigid time preoccupations, Your Honours, but I think that this man should be entitled to speak on record. But if you would allow me, it should take me maybe five minutes. I will read it in French, and
But I can't understand your position. You say that you are not permitted to speak on his behalf and then you are reading his statement.
No, I'm not well, in this letter, Your Honour it's dated November the 20th, 2006. And I'll just refer you to paragraph 12, which says and I will have to read it in French: "Through this letter, I wish to notify you that none of my counsel has the powers to represent me in the hearing regarding Dallaire's testimony." (Microphones overlapping)... letter, reasons why he knows that he's not getting a fair trial before this Chamber. And this last illustration, this Dallaire saga is the clearest illustration that we've had here in the last two years, for the reasons I've explained.
So we can't work I can't work in these conditions, and therefore under my professional code of conduct I will refer to section 4 of this Tribunal's code of professional conduct which states that: "Counsel must advise and represent their client until the client duly terminates counsel's position or counsel is otherwise withdrawn, with the consent of the Tribunal." Now, again, if you could give this to Mr. Registrar, I would like to put this on record, sir.
I'm not in a position, Your Honour, to state before this Court that my mandate has been revoked, but definitely suspended. And we've researched this question throughout the rules and statutes and jurisprudence, and it seems that there are no differences between a revocation and a suspension of a mandate. So my position at this point is my mandate is suspended for the time being.
Just one other thing, Your Honour: I've referred to section 4 of the this Court's code of professional conduct. I also have, in my home province of Quebec, which we call (French spoken), and I have the French wording of that section which is 3.02.09, and says the following: "Counsel must stop representing the client at the request of the latter."
So I'm caught in a situation, sir my client, whom I've represented in the last year and a half, two years, he's asking me he's ordering me not to represent him again with respect to the testimony of Witness Dallaire.
Yes, Counsel, I think you are trying to give the impression that this Court has to be controlled by the Accused. When they suspend your appearance, we have to stop proceedings. And when he reopens, we have to go on? Is that what you are saying? Anyway, you have said what you have to say.
Counsel Black, do you want to say what you have to say?
Well, I have said partly what I have to say. I am suspecting that you you have your prerogatives, Your Honour. I'm not sure what you're going to do, but I have mine.
I will do what I am permitted to do.
Yes, sir. And to answer your question, no, we're not asking you to suspend these proceedings; you can proceed with the proceedings as you see fit. We're not asking you to delay the trial in any way. That's not our purpose.
I have a statement also instructions from my client which I can read to you. It's not very long. I can read in one minute. It's in French and English; I will read it in English. It's addressed to me, but I'm instructed to read it to you as the reasons why General Ndindiliyimana is not here.
"I wish to remind you that on many occasions I have drawn your attention kind attention to the fact that I was more and more convinced that I would not get a fair and just trial before this Tribunal. Many decisions taken by the Trial Judges in the instant case prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my concern is well founded. It is particularly so in the unfair and highly biased decisions against my Defence taken on 20 October 2006 and 3rd November 2006 in relation to the forthcoming testimony of General Roméo Dallaire. The conditions imposed for his testimony constitute an unacceptable limitation of my right to a fair trial, and it is a clear denial of justice.
"A free and independent deposition by a high level official with whom I worked", that is General Dallaire, "without ever incurring a single reproach from him or his collaborators will give him a forum to tell the Trial Chamber and the world who were the real actors in the Rwandan tragedy. It is only under this latter condition that General Dallaire would very probably tell the truth and avoid reproducing manipulated theories.
"In the letter I wrote to General Dallaire on 12th February 2003, a copy which I ask you to file with the Court, along with this statement, I reminded him that immediately after the attack against the aircraft carrying President Habyarimana, I personally invited him to come and participate with the Rwandan government force high command in handling the crisis. Thus, Roméo Dallaire participated in all the meetings during which decisions were taken."
Objection, Mr. President. Objection. Counsel is making submissions he is giving evidence from the bar. He is testifying to events regarding which he can only testify if he decides to give evidence or if he decides to cross examine General Dallaire.
Yes, Counsel, I think
Well, I'm not going that's the last statement of that nature, sir. "It is therefore incomprehensible and even unacceptable that this person, who could enlighten the Judges and the world on who did what in the Rwandan tragedy and on who truly carries responsibility for what happened, be manipulated and utilised to testify against an innocent person, as I am. Worse than that, the Judges are depriving me of the right to confront this man, face to face, in order to dismantle his lies and have ample time to confront him. The testimony of the widows of Ngulinzira and Kavaruganda call upon the consciences of all who heard them and plead for my direct confrontation of General Dallaire.
"It is true that the absence of transparency in the Rwanda file before this Tribunal is not only linked to the testimony of General Dallaire. There are many more situations where transparency had been denied, to the extent of imposing drastic limitations on contradictory debates. All along in our trial, the Trial Chamber Judges have not hidden their bias in favour of the Prosecutor. They have systematically denied to the Defence their right to appeal against their unjust and inequitable decisions"
So he's speaking about all the trials, not only this one?
No, he is speaking about your decisions in this trial. "All requests for certification of appeal have been systematically denied. Worse than that, the Presiding Judge does not want to entertain any debate on the count of genocide of which I am accused, under the pretext that judicial notice of genocide has been taken in another proceeding.
"Regarding General Dallaire himself, I automatically contest his testimony because a conflict exists between him and I. In fact, I lodged a complaint against him before the Belgian courts.
"Taking all this into account, I consider that my participation and my representation in this trial, when General Dallaire will be testifying, would be equivalent to supporting this mockery of justice, and an acceptance of the serious violation of my fundamental rights to a fair and equitable defence. It is the reason why I have not I have decided not to attend General Dallaire's testimony.
"In addition to that, I formally demand that after" I have something to ask you. "I formally demand that you inform the Trial Chamber that you do not have any longer my mandate to represent me in these proceedings, as long as the Court sits to hear General Dallaire's testimony by video link. These are unacceptable conditions and appear in deliberate violation of my basic rights."
Now, before I continue, Judge, I would like to ask if I take it that the Court maintains its decision of last week of the weekend, of Friday, rejecting our appeals? But before
What do you mean by maintaining a decision? Once a decision is given, that stands.
Yeah, okay. Well, then, just for the record, because I think I have to do this for myself and for the general, I would just like to put on the record what I would be cross examining General Dallaire on, just briefly, as an offer of proof.
I would be cross examining I would like to cross examine him on his appreciation of the capacity and condition of the gendarmerie, disposition of its resources, its men, its joint patrols with the UN, its participation in Operation Clean Corridor, its actions in the swearing in ceremonies, and that would, I believe, take me three days.
Mr. President, this procedure is improper. He cannot give a guideline of his cross examination, even when the cross examination has not yet taken place or started.
Under American law I'm required to do so, and under the British law I'm required to do so. I'm sorry, Mr. Bâ, but those that's required.
Well, Counsel, I think we have already given a decision on the matter. So therefore there is no need to go into all this now. Because you are eating into this precious time that we have allocated for testimony of this witness.
Well, my client was sitting
Counsel, one more thing I will tell you
all the time during the testimonies of other witnesses, you have been saying that, "Well, I had a special relationship with Dallaire and I would welcome his testimony." Now when he is permitted to come here, you say you don't want him. What is this? And you say that we are not fair when we call him.
If you would let me finish you will understand why I say that. I need three days to do what I just listed.
And I need one day to cross examine just a minute, Mr. Bâ, Mr. Bâ, would you stop and sit down
Mr. President Mr. Black, it is not the American law that applies before this Trial Chamber. Tell the Court the rule in the Rules of Procedure and Evidence which allows you to do what you are doing, namely to give an outline of your cross examination, even though that cross examination has not yet taken place. This Tribunal is not governed by American law. It is only when the rules here are silent on a given issue that we can refer to the general principles of law and the other legal systems.
The President just asked me why I was saying this; I am explaining, Mr. Bâ.
We have given you a time frame, so you are to work within that.
I'm sorry, sir, I have to explain to you why I can't.
Well, this is not the time for you to explain. You can register your protest at the time when you start the cross examination. Are you first appearing today? That is the purpose of your getting up? You are now dealing with other things.
I have I have instructions to do this. If you're not going to allow me to make submissions, I would like to know that. I need to finish these submissions.
I am not here to give any explanations to anybody. I will run this Court the way I want according to the rules.
I know that, but I need to know, am I going to be able to finish these submissions which I am instructed to make?
(Microphones overlapping)... already said that you are going to appeal, so what is what is there for us
Well, if you'd just be patient, sir. I have limited instructions to appear today for this limited purpose, and if I can just finish.
Thank you. I also intend to cross examine him on his meeting with Jean Pierre and the so called genocide fax and the involvement of the British Army in fabricating that fax.
Well, Counsel, I think this is highly irrelevant. You can
That would take me one day.
Well, I you can cross examine him on all the relevant facts that he's going to speak to, or even other facts that he has not spoken to in this Court.
But I can't I would need to examine his role on the death of Agathe; it would take me one day. The death of the Belgians; one day.
That will give Agathe her life back, when you cross examine him for one day?
His involvement with assisting the RPF in its offensive and shooting down the plane; five days. Authentication of all the documents before us that need to be authenticated (microphone not activated)
THE ENGLISH INTERPRETER:
I have a total of 15 days' questions here, which are essential. His involvement in the death of Agathe, the death of all the VIPs under UN protection, his meetings with my client, his meetings with the army officers on the 6th, 7th, and 8th. It would take me 15 days, at a minimum, to properly cross examine Dallaire. So one day, I can't do it, I can't even begin to do it, and I have no intention to do it.
So my final instructions, sir, is this: I am instructed to request for the recusal of yourself and Judge Park because of your attitude in this trial throughout, your failure to in fact, your rejection of all our motions, your failure to sustain or deny objections when we make them, you fail to give reasons for these reasons for these decisions, the continued limitation of our rights to cross examine various witnesses, your assistance to witnesses when they're in trouble for the Prosecution to help them, condemn the clients, your expressed attitude and Judge Park's expressed physical attitude is un to my client and me gives us the impression of at least an apprehension of bias. And we therefore ask that you consider recusing yourself. Judge Hikmet has not displayed the same amount of bias, in our view, at this point, so we are not asking for Judge Hikmet to recuse herself.
Failing that, I am instructed finally to ask that if you decide not to recuse yourselves, and not consider this motion, that you again consider transferring General Ndindiliyimana's trial to a jurisdiction where he can get a fair trial; anywhere except Rwanda. He's willing to go to Germany, Belgium, Canada, United States, any country in the world except Rwanda. And it's quite clear, now, that this the Security Council has set up a Tribunal whose goal is to protect the UN, because there's no intention of allowing us to explore the role of one of the principal actors in the war, in the tragedy, the UN itself, they have no intention of allowing us to explore that. And the world needs to know what the UN did in Rwanda and why these things happened.
So, I'm sorry, sir, that I'm instructed to suspend in fact, I am suspended as of now. That's my last instruction.
One other thing I don't want to be a sensationalist, because I am always accused of being that. But yesterday I was visited by someone who made a direct threat against me and my client's life. And I cannot work under these conditions. I was told that I'm a dead man and so is my client, that my client is no longer safe in the UNDF and you can laugh if you want
Well, Counsel, it's not the first time I am hearing this.
I don't think it's a laughing matter when somebody threatens to kill me, and you better goddamn well listen.
Well, Counsel, it is your turn to listen.
Then you stop you protect me, because I am not staying here when somebody is trying to assassinate me.
If you have any complaint, you go and make your complaint to the appropriate authority.
(Microphones overlapping)... don't please don't laugh at me.
Please please sit down.
I will sit down, sir, but please don't laugh at me.
Please, show your conduct. You are trying to make this Court a mockery.
No, sir, you have done this yourself.
Please take your seat; you have said what you are going to say.
I am instructed to one thing, I don't want to fight with you anymore.
I am not here to fight. You are now just using using this Court for another agenda.
No, I am not, sir.
That you have demonstrated to this Court now.
You are not taking my -- what I just told you seriously? Please don't laugh at that because it was serious, and I take it seriously. I'm sorry I got angry, but when somebody says that to me last night I take it very seriously. And it was a member of the police here.
So, my instructions, sir and I don't want to fight I don't know what you're going to do. But my instructions are to leave the courtroom because I don't represent anybody here. I don't know if you're going to order me to stay or what, but I don't represent anybody, and my instructions are to leave.
Yes, Mr. Black, you must know that you can't leave the courtroom like that; you are assigned by the registrar to do a job of work, not to
I have no work, sir. I am suspended. I can't do anything here. I'm just a civilian right now. I have no role.
We're not asking you to delay the trial, we're not just taking part. I have no function here whatsoever; nor does Mr. MacDonald. If you order me to stay, I'm staying as just a civilian. I'm not a lawyer here.
Yes, Mr. Segatwa?
Obliged, Your Honour. Obviously my task is a difficult one, because after this incident I don't know whether you'll have time to listen to me, but I will crave your indulgence, Your Honour.
My client, Captain Innocent Sagahutu, has not appeared today, at this session. While demonstrating his profound respect for your Court, he would like that his absence be viewed and understood as a reflection of the deep concern that he is experiencing at this point in time; concern which is heightened or compounded by your decision of the 3rd and the 18th of November 2006, denying endlessly the motion filed by the Defence.
Innocent Sagahutu's Defence team is of the view that there was a misunderstanding between your Court and the Defence team, and would like to take this opportunity to seek clarification of the ruling or the opinion of the Chamber, that is, of your Court. Article 19 sub (1) of the statute of the Tribunal provides as follows: "The Trial Chamber shall ensure that the trial is fair and speedy; and ensures that the proceedings continue in conformity with the Rules of procedure and evidence; that the rights of the Accused are fully observed; and the victims and witnesses being duly protected."
While seeking of your distinguished Court adequate time to enable it to enable him to defend himself against the serious charges brought against him by the Prosecutor, and which are to be brought before your Court by General Dallaire, at the time the commanding officer of the UN forces, namely, the UNAMIR deployed in Rwanda in 1994, which is nothing but the universally recognised right of any accused, namely to defend himself under circumstances that are deemed acceptable, respect for the rights of the defence is the ultimate raison d'être of the Court. It is similarly the raison d'être of the Defence.
In other circumstances the Court has shown that it is receptive to the requests of the Defence, which was seeking suitable time for purposes of cross examination, and often adequate time had been allotted by the Court for that purpose, for in the case of witnesses that are of not such crucial importance as General Dallaire, who, quite rightly, is considered as a crucial eyewitness of the events that resulted in the creation of this Tribunal.
Innocent Sagahutu's Defence team would seek clarification by this Chamber of his decision of the 3rd of November 2006, by which decision the Court said it would be prepared to allow additional time to the parties, depending on the circumstances. The Defence does not intend to engage in a defence that is fraught with uncertainty. Because with the scheduling having been set by the Judges, in other words, from the 20th to the 24th of November, and from the 5th to the 8th of December 2006, in our opinion not much (unintelligible) of manoeuvre is available, that is, for allocating additional time, except to pick from the time allotted to some others and to allot such time to the others. Whereas the main purpose of the challenge is on that scheduling, which does not take into account a full and unfettered exercise of the rights of the Defence. Innocent Sagahutu's Defence team notes that there is time for the Prosecution, which is always allotted the time that it requires, or asks for, whereas there is not enough time for the Defence.
Mr. President, you would say that Innocent Sagahutu's Defence team usually doesn't have enough time for purposes of cross examination. But the reason for that is that those who address the Court before it do cover the main issues that it needs to address in the course of its cross examination, and if it were not in a position to do so, that would be that would undermine the interests of Innocent Sagahutu, unless, in the final analysis, the Chamber would decide that there be a severance in his case. And in that respect, I now wish to make a concrete proposal and please don't be frustrated, Mr. President. It is not intended to challenge or question your ruling. But in the initial proposals that were contained in the motion filed by the Prosecutor, the Prosecutor was asking that Mr. Dallaire testify in January and February 2007, and that schedule seemed to fit in or was approved by counsel for General Dallaire, as well as that of the Defence.
Mr. President, Your Honours, let me conclude by saying all we seek is a bit of understanding in compliance with strict observance of the rights of the Defence. I have no doubt at all that that is within your jurisdiction, your authority.
I am grateful to you, Your Honour, Mr. President, for your kind attention.
Counsel, I think with regard to the time allocation, we have not gone this is not our innovation. We have gone according to the Appeals Chambers, where they have given specified times for cross examination. So if the and when you, as lawyers, you most know how to act within the time given to you. When you go for an exam, examination will say only three hours, you have to answer the paper. And you know how to manage your time within the three hours, and you have already passed the exams in those restricted hours. So I can't understand why you need unlimited time to cross examine, unless you want to go into (unintelligible). If you are a good lawyer you must know how to manage the time that is given to you.
Anyway, now that we have listened to your sorry. Sorry, Mr. Taku.
May it please Your Lordships. As you will observe, my client is here today. His presence here today, like in the past, must not in any way or, must not be construed in any way to say that he supports the scheduling order. Indeed, we objected, and objected very vehemently. And Your Lordships evaluated the reasons for objections and nevertheless ruled the way you did. And as you observed, some of the issues raised when we objected are coming out very, very clearly in your own eyes, and that explains why we have been very, very silent when this matter arose.
That said, Your Honours, the issues raised about the potential for a violation of the fundamental rights of the Defence of a fair trial by my colleagues in regard to their clients, I think they are very, very fundamental issues the very foundation on which all that this system of justice is built. In fact, that goes to the heart of the notion of the rule of law.
And all I can say, Your Honours, is that you should take it very, very seriously. Especially as as I think, (unintelligible) of mine, when you said that you were minded to grant more time if need be. I think it was an obvious issue, Your Honours, at the beginning of this trial for Your Honours to give a clear indication that if such further time were to be given, when would that be possible? Because the element of certainty in the defence of a client is very, very important. That is all I can say.
You are very aware that my client has been the victim of violations in the past with counsel, that he didn't have counsel of his choice. But then he always came here to show the respect that he has for this Court. So I ask you to exercise a bit of patience and (unintelligible) Your Honours to accommodate some of the issues some with regard to time. And I say so in very (unintelligible) because we are talking about a situation in Rwanda where people died, and serious allegations have been placed on others. And we want the possibility to defend themselves adequately at this point in time. Thank you, Your Honours.
Thank you, Mr. Counsel. I think what you have said is something reasonable, because we have not even listened to this particular witness. Once the witness gives evidence, we can evaluate what time that should be given, or whether time should be extended. I think in that way I am thankful to you for raising that.
Mr. Segatwa, you have not mentioned anything about your appearance today. Are you appearing for the Accused? Mandate, with regard to the mandate -- have you got a mandate to appear for your client?
Obliged, Your Honour. I have received mandate, which is subject to some conditions. We've asked that the Court clarify that portion of its ruling when it says that it is prepared to provide additional time to allow additional time, depending on the circumstances. Is that supposed to mean that in the event of cross examination being conducted by parties, and such parties are not in a position to conclude the said cross examination, will the Bench be prepared to provide it with additional time that it may seek, or it may just deny it that opportunity to cross examination? Because we have two half days for each team, and we are the very last and we may have just half days. And there are only nine half days.
Actually, my client is asking that you specify clarify, so that we don't start the cross examination in circumstances of absolute uncertainty, where we don't have enough time or whether we won't have time at all, and if we don't have enough time we will prepare ourselves accordingly.
For sure, Your Honour, my client hasn't asked me to leave this courtroom. Thank you.
Mr. President, may I have permission to withdraw?
I serve no purpose here, I have no mandate, I am nothing here at all. We are not objecting to you proceeding in absentia, you have the right under the rules to do so.
We will make a ruling on that. First we have to do other things. We will continue later.
Please, registrar, please inform the three Accused that their presence is required by the Tribunal under Rule 82 of the Rules of Evidence and Procedure, and report to this Chamber immediately. We will be we will take consider the submissions made by the Defence and we will adjourn for five minutes and come back.
(Court recessed at 1358H)
(Pages 1 to 14 by Kirstin McLean)
The statement of the Chamber, 20th November 2006: During this session Defence counsel raised the issue of unfairness of the Chamber's position with regard to the conduct of the video link testimony of the witness, Roméo Dallaire. Counsel for Ndindiliyimana went further to accuse the Chamber of bias and pointed specifically to the Presiding Judge and Judge Park. For the last time, the Chamber wishes to remind counsel of their duty to conduct themselves in a respectful manner when addressing the Court. Any issue relevant to the business of the Court may be raised, provided that this is done in full compliance with the relevant rules and regulations governing this Tribunal. Counsel must in this regard abide by any Chamber's ruling, whether they agree with it or not. The only challenge to the Chamber's ruling should be by resort to the appropriate remedies available pursuant to the rules. The Chamber has already warned Counsel Black for his inappropriate behaviour towards the Bench and notes that, despite repeated warnings, counsel persists in his offensive behaviour. His accusation of bias directed to the Bench without following the proper procedure for disqualification, yelling at the Presiding Judge during the proceedings and refusing on several occasions to obey the Judge's orders will no longer be tolerated. Counsel Black has now exhausted the Chamber's patience. The Chamber is ready to make immediate use of Rule 46 of the rules by refusing audience to counsel and instructing the registrar to strike him off the list of counsel eligible to practice before the Tribunal should counsel persist in his offensive conduct. This statement equally applies to the conduct of all counsel in these proceedings.
Registrar, have you contacted the missing Accused?
Thank you, Mr. President. In accordance with the instructions that you gave, the accused persons concerned were notified that their presence at the proceedings is required. The answer they gave is clear: They refuse to attend these proceedings.
I thank you.
Thank you. In view of the refusal of the Accused, the Chamber instructs the Registrar to assign Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Black to represent the interests of the Accused, Bizimungu and Ndindiliyimana, respectively, pursuant to Rule 45 of the rules.
If I may add a comment, Your Honour. The problem we have with that is if you read correctly section 45, before I could be sanctioned under either 45 or 46, I have to sign a written undertaking that's quite clear and my position at this particular point, and it is not in defiance of your judgment at all, but it is in the rules, 45 specifically states that if you are going to sanction me, I have to have given a written undertaking. And for reasons I mentioned earlier, Mr. President, I cannot I cannot provide my client professional services if the Court grants me one day to cross examine this witness, Roméo Dallaire. It is impossible. And we've dealt with this extensively. You know my position. So my proposition, and I wouldn't want this Court to see this as any kind of leverage, but my proposition right now is I'm ready to sign this undertaking as long as I get guarantees that I'm going to have sufficient time to cross examine Dallaire, or else I can't. And I'm in an impossible position; I'm caught between a rock and a hard place. I have no mandate from my client.
I respect your decision, Your Honour, but you have to see it on my side also. And 45 gives me an opening or an option. If I'm ready to be sanctioned by you, sir, I have to sign this undertaking, and I can't again, I can't do it unless I have guarantees. And don't see it as leverage or anything else. I'm just asking this Court to reconsider. And if I could just add one thing: You've cited Perlick this morning. With all due respect, Your Honour, Perlick does not rob you from your common sense. Perlick is a decision from the Court of Appeal that applied in that particular case where the Court recognised the fact that the first instance case had discretion to do it. But in this case, we have the most important witness. You have to use your discretion. And, again, Perlick did not rob you from that discretion, Your Honour. And there is no reason why Dallaire shouldn't be recalled here in February or March. We've I think we've dealt in a, I think I could use the term, speedy manner in this particular case compared to other cases. Yes, we've cross examined witnesses in certain cases for two, three, four days when it was needed, but you will recall the last witness that was here, Madam Kavaruganda, I haven't cross examined her for more than two hours. So I don't think we exaggerate, Your Honour, by stating that reconsideration should be an option by this Court.
If I may speak, Mr. President. I am also in a very difficult position because my instructions are clear. If you, as you've done, redesignate me or reimpose me on my client, my client will fire me tomorrow. I will no longer be counsel no matter what you do. So what am I supposed to do? If you insist that you now say I'm imposed under that rule as standby counsel just another phrase you want to use I will be terminated tomorrow, because that's what happened the last time. And, again, if you if you apply that rule, which you could do, how what does that do with my instructions? My instructions from this client are to do nothing and not to act as counsel. So I have a conflict of ethics, and my first duty is to the client. I have to advise you that I don't want to force you to do something unpleasant; I don't want to have something unpleasant happen to me, but never in my life have I gone against my client's instructions. If you would like during this period to impose some other counsel who is willing to accept that position and there are counsel like David Hooper and others who have just been imposed on Dr. Seselj at the ICTY against (inaudible) as standby counsel, then you could do that. But if you impose me, my client will terminate my services completely tomorrow. So I have to tell you that if you order me to sit here in court, I will. But I cannot act; I can't. So if you want to get rid of me one way or the other, I guess that's what is going to happen.
Mr. President, please
Counsel, you have nothing to do with this now. This was only with regard to these two. Since you are representing, I don't think that I should give you any more time on this.
No, I did not want to speak on that issue. In fact, I wanted to speak on the understanding of your decision because I thought that you were going to respond to our request regarding your discretionary powers to give us more time. I did not understand the answer that you gave to that request. Do you maintain the time limit found in the ruling, or are you going to tell Ndisegimana (sic) that it is clear that we can expect to be allowed more time, additional time for the cross examination. In the event you refuse to consider our motion, I would request that you also give me additional time so that I should be able to contact afresh my client in order to be given instructions from him, instructions that are clear.
In addition to that, Mr. President, there is something which I did not understand in what you said. Perhaps the translation was not quite faithful or perhaps I was distracted. In any case, you cautioned Mr. Black and you also said that that caution also applies to the other counsel. Mr. President, I would like to know in what respect I should do something that should not further offend you. In my utterances, was there anything that showed a lack of respect toward the Trial Chamber? And, if that is the case, I apologise here and now. But in any case, as far as I do remember, I do not know of any of my utterances that may have been an offence to the Trial Chamber.
No, Counsel, there is no application to you. I said in case something happens, all counsel must take this into their consideration in behaving in court, so that is what is applicable to counsel.
And with regard to that time limit, I think I have sufficiently given an explanation to Mr. Taku when Mr. Taku raised that question.
Mr. President, I take it you've are you going to make this 45 order or do you already consider it made?
Yes, Counsel, I think this Chamber is assigning you under Rule 45, and this assignment is to represent the interests of the Accused so there is no question of taking instructions from the Accused. This is only to represent the interests of the Accused. And what Mr. MacDonald referred to as far as signing of the document has no relevance today because you have already signed it at the time of acceptance of your assignment.
Well, then, I would have to advise you, sir, that if you take since you are taking that position, I will have to advise General Ndindiliyimana, and General Ndindiliyimana will terminate my services completely.
Then it is up to Ndindiliyimana to do what he wants.
That is what he will do, so I regret to
Let me refer to Mr. Segatwa: The Court decides the time and not anybody else; not even the Accused. So when the time is allocated and if you use that time for various other things, then that will also go against the people who are asking for more time.
May I make a comment, Your Honour, on representations I made. I think it is a very important issue. And by restating under Section 45, you are acknowledging the fact that my mandate was either revoked or suspended, and therefore we have to rely by relying on 45, you have to, as a statutory Tribunal, you have to follow the prescriptions of that section, and it clearly states, sir, that for me to re-engage in a new mandate following the Registrar's demands I have to sign that undertaking, because you could have assigned me to represent anybody else here. And I have to be I have to play my options. And one of my options is, if I'm going to accept to represent that person, I have the possibility of refusing that by not signing this undertaking.
But these are my submissions, Your Honour.
But just one thing, and I will respect your ruling, whatever it is. The only thing that I would ask, Mr. President, is that in the past, as you know, I have in probably 80 percent of the cases I've opened the parade; I was the first one to cross examine. Now, I understand your ruling, we have a certain amount of days, but I would want to be in a position where if I have an extra day or two days, since my client is going to be the main target, I mean, there is no way around that. I don't think that if we have three days or four days left, I don't think you are going to cut me off to one day. I think you are probably going to exercise your discretion as provided by Perlick and allow me two or three days. So I would ask you in these special circumstances to allow me to cross examine last so I could at least assess my the screening that I will have to obviously do. Mr. Black mentioned something like 15 days. I have a 42 page outline of questions, so I can't even give you an assessment. So that is the situation, Your Honour.
That is the very reason that the Court gave an assessment, Counsel, for you to work within that framework. Anyway, since you have indicated your mind, we will first listen to the evidence and then see how it goes.
Very well. Thank you.
Yes. You may call the witness, Counsel.
Just one last word, Mr. President. I just want to be clear. If you purport to use 45(b), you say it's my job is to protect the interests of the Accused, but the interests of the Accused are set out in the letter that I read to you which is not to do anything. Those are his interests; that is how he wants his interests protected. He wants me to do nothing. I can't go against those instructions. I never have in my life and I never will. I'm sorry
Counsel, you may act according to his instructions. If he says not to ask any questions, you may do so.
I won't even listen to the testimony, sir.
Yes, Counsel, you may call the witness and commence the proceedings. You can tell them that we are ready.
Yes, we are ready to hear the witness.
Ask the Registrar, please, to swear in the witness.
Yes, Your Honour. Before that, I just want to inform the Chamber that we have Mrs. Marla Doux (phonetic), the representative of the Canadian forces, sitting also at this table on behalf of the government of Canada.
So now I will ask General Dallaire to stand up, to raise his right hand and say after me.
(Declaration made by Roméo Dallaire in English)
Yes, Counsel. You may start now.
Mr. President, in principle, the Prosecution has been allowed two half days. At the beginning of this direct examination, I would like to point the Chamber that the half day of today has somehow been reduced and I believe this should be taken into account for the rest of our direct examination.
Furthermore, the representative of the registry a short while ago announced that that is that Mrs. Marla Doux is in the room and that she represents the government of Canada. I think in the room we should also have Mr. Hervé Yarovsky (phonetic), who is the counsel for General Dallaire.
Registry representative, is Mr. Hervé there? If you can hear me, is he there, Mr. Hervé?
Yes, Mr. Bâ, I'm also sitting at this table.
Is the Defence represented there?
I'm just saying that Mr. Hervé is also sitting at this table. He is the legal lawyer of General Dallaire.
No. My question is whether the Defence is represented is anybody from the Defence represented there?
Yes, Your Honour. Mrs. Nina LeBlanc is also sitting there and Mr. Tamadou is also there for the Office of the Prosecution.
Yes, Mr. Bâ.
Thank you, Mr. President, I believe I have your leave.
first having been duly sworn,
testified as follows:
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. Good morning, General Roméo Dallaire. General, do you have any specific occupation at this point in time?
A. I am a senator in the Canadian parliament.
Q. If I understand you correctly, you are no longer serving in the Canadian army as a member as an active member of the Canadian army?
A. I was medically released on the 18th of April in the year 2000.
Q. General, at the time you were retired, what specific duties did you perform in the Canadian army, that is, in the year 2000?
A. I was a serving lieutenant general, three star general, responsible for the officer professional development and the reform of the Canadian officer corps, responding directly to the chief of the defence tasks.
THE ENGLISH INTERPRETER:
Mr. President, we are sorry for the interruption. Mr. President, the French booth interpreters who are receiving what is coming in from Canada are complaining that they can hardly hear what is being said by Mr. Dallaire.
Mr. Witness, could you kindly speak into the mike because the reception is not that clear. So please get closer to the microphone when you speak.
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. In 1993, General, did you work for the UN?
A. In July of 1993 I was seconded from the Canadian forces to the UN in a role of a force commander and mission aide for the mission in Uganda and, as such, I held the rank of D1 within the UN.
Q. What was the first assignment entrusted to you by the United Nations; your first mission or your first assignment?
A. My first mission was to command a mission called UNAMOR, which was the mission to monitor the Ugandan/Rwandan border along the line in which the RPF zone was established in Rwanda and to a depth of 20 kilometres in order to report if any materials or troop movements were being conducted out of Uganda into Rwanda in support of the RPF possible campaign.
Q. Okay. Was that mission known as UNAMIR, that is, the one that you conducted or you were in charge of at the border between Uganda and Rwanda? Was it already known at the time as UNAMIR?
A. The first mission, which is the one we are speaking of, was called UNAMOR which was a mission established separately for the conduct of that surveillance of the Ugandan/Rwandan border. The mission of UNAMIR in July was not in existence as the Arusha Peace Accords had not yet been signed, and I subsequently received orders officially that, in fact, UNAMIR was in existence with a mandate on 5 October of the same year.
Q. During that period of July and August, General, did you go to Kigali?
A. In order to review and establish whether there should be a mission, a peacekeeping mission, within Rwanda, in accordance with the request laid out in the Arusha accord that was signed in early August, I was sent on a reconnaissance mission originally to be led by a political officer who had been sitting in Arusha during the negotiations, a Mr. Pedanou (phonetic), who fell ill the day before we left. And so on the 17th of August, I left with a composite team of over 12 personnel to conduct a nearly two week assessment of whether or not a peacekeeping mission was possible and whether it was necessary in response to the requests of the Arusha peace accord.
Q. Thank you, General. As part of that surveillance mission, did you meet those in charge of the former belligerent forces?
A. During the mission I conducted meetings with both the ex belligerents and on the government side with a series of meetings principally with the military personnel, and on the last day I had the opportunity of meeting the president before we left. And on the RPF side I had meetings with the head of the RPF, the chairman, with the head of the military structures and a number of their political and military leaders. I also held clarification meetings throughout that time frame where we on particularly the military side spent considerable time ensuring that we all understood what the protocols meant and so that there would not be any ambiguity between us. During those times a retired Colonel Bagosora led the government side with the chiefs of staff of the gendarmerie and the army and on the other side a gentleman called Pasteur Bizimungu led their team of military and civilian personnel.
Mr. Bâ, since we are working until 8:00, we will have only one break today because of the delay of the proceedings. I propose to have the break by 5:45 to 6:15. Or if you want any adjustment, you can inform the Court.
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. Was there an effective ceasefire at the time? That is, in August when you went to Rwanda, was there an effective ceasefire?
A. There was a ceasefire fully effective monitored by the organisation of African Unity observers. They were very light on the ground, about 60 personnel; was made up also of officers from both the RGF and the RPF, and the troops were essentially on either side of the demilitarised zone in their own defensive positions, as were troops on the government side deployed also in other regions of the country and particularly around the capital. There had not been any incidents of ceasefire violations at that time nor up until the time I actually took command of the mission which was on the ground on the 22nd of October.
Q. Thank you, General. I'm going to ask the representative of the registry to show you a map of Rwanda so that you can identify or mark out the positions of the parties, how those positions of the ex belligerents were at the time of the cease fire.
Could the representative of the registry please hand over the map of Rwanda to General Dallaire so you will show us the part of the territory that was occupied by the RPF and the part of the territory occupied by the Rwandan government forces, that is, the FAR.
This is not an objection, Your Honour, but do we have a copy of this? I mean, we have binders we have nine binders for everybody of the documents we are going to be producing. I'm assuming you have a copy of that map, Mr. Bâ. Because I can't see from here what is on that map, obviously.
Well, it is the map of Rwanda. There aren't two maps of Rwanda.
I just want you to say it is this or that report; no mystery.
It is a map of Rwanda. Maybe this should be put on the screen, and if you have any objection with respect to the reliability of such a map, you could say so. If you think that is not a reliable document, you can make your views known.
I'm only saying that because I can't see it. That is all I see is a blur.
He can't see it clearly so if you have an extra map you can give it. Otherwise, just say that you don't have it.
I'm just enquiring.
Do you have an additional map for him to go through? That is what he is requesting.
I don't have any additional copy, but I can look for them.
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. Are you there, General? Can you do that identification for us, that is, the two areas that were occupied by the parties, the ex belligerents?
A. Yes. If we use this map of Rwanda, which was the maps available to us at that time, the RPF were essentially in the northern part, up here, between the Ugandan border and a zone which was never more than about 10 kilometres.
Q. Sorry, General. Sorry, General. Apparently, the Defence has some objection.
(Microphones overlapping) ... the record. He has to either give him a marker and have him mark these regions because here on appeal if you wish to go on appeal, you are not going to know where "here" was, so it has to be identified clearly, and I would ask that a copy of that map be sent here. I don't know Mr. Black had suggested some type of a fax system so we could see the documents that General Dallaire identifies. But I think his attention should be brought to the fact that he has to clearly identify it with a marker, the regions he is referring to.
Yes, Counsel, ask him to mark the areas with a marker.
Well, that is what I was going to do. Well, that's the purpose of this exercise, by the way.
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. So if you can use a marker, General, or several different colours to show us the area occupied by RPF, and maybe write into that particular area the words "RPF."
A. Right. We are going to get a piece of plastic to put over the map so as not to damage it. And also if I may humbly suggest that in the UN report on Rwanda this map is clearly identified with the different zones, that is, the RPF zone, the demilitarised zone and the RGF zone.
I am not going to hold up deliberations because the plastic is not readily available, and so I will do it from memory the general outline of the different zones. And if I follow a line, this zone up here is the RPF zone. And then you have a zone like so that is called the demilitarised zone. And everything south of that is essentially the government zone.
Q. Thank you, General. Maybe we will be using that map later on. Could you go back to your seat and I will move on with my questions.
Shouldn't we identify it, Mr. Bâ, either as an ID or P? If we do refer to it later at least we are going to know it's the same map.
What do you want us to identify? What do you mean by identifying?
Well, the witness has just drawn something on a map. It needs to be identified. It has to have a number, ID or P or
Well, before I end with the examination in chief, I will do so. We will get back to it. It will be given a number later on.
The only way to do it is he has referred to it, he has marked it, you have to identify it. If he comes back to that card later on, we have to know what we are talking about: That is the card you marked earlier on. It is ID. 1 or ID. 2 or ID 5. But if you don't want to do it that way, I'm not insisting.
We will continue, General.
BY MR. BÂ:
Q. At the time, what would be your estimate of the Rwandan government forces when you went there in August 1993?
A. The estimates well, the data that we received from both ex belligerents reflected forces on the RGF side of about 23 to 24,000. These this information under the prospect of a UN mission, a peacekeeping mission, is to be voluntarily provided by the ex belligerents who are seeking full transparency in order to assist the process of implementing the peace agreement.
Q. So you are saying the Rwandan government forces well, what were you told? What were you told?
A. Those what I was told is what I have provided you: A figure of about 23 to 24,000 troops for the actual army of the government side.
Q. In the case of the gendarmerie does that figure include the gendarmerie?
A. No. The gendarmerie figure varied from a figure of 4 to 6,000. Throughout all this, the definitive number, that is to say, the exact number double checked by nominal roles was not conducted nor is it conducted in such operations.
Q. What will be your estimate of the Presidential Guard? That is, in that figure of 22- to 24,000 constituting the Rwandan government forces, how many would be of the Presidential Guard?
A. The figure that I recall of the Presidential Guard was about 600.
Q. Thank you, General.
And the RPF strengths at the time, what would be your estimate?
A. Again, the figures I provide you are the figures that we received from the ex belligerents with nominal verification, and the figure from the RPF was in the order of 11 to 12,000.
Q. Thank you. Are you able to tell us something about the armaments of the ex belligerents? Well, the basis of what you were told by those whom you met?
A. Yes. Well, if we start with the government forces and the listing of weapons are personal weapons, that is, light machine guns and rifles, and then a series of more substantive weapons systems, mortars up to 120 millimetre mortars, artillery pieces, 105 guns, air defence, heavy machine guns, anti aircraft machine guns, attack helicopters, and also a reconnaissance vehicle with a heavy weapons system on them, and each of these weapons systems had a variety of numbers to them that were part of the different battalions or organisations. On the RPF side, essentially light weapons, with also mortars up into the heavy mortar level of 120 millimetre, and anti aircraft missiles, which were not confirmed, but the last data I believe we had were SA-7s.
Q. Thank you, General. In August, when you went to Rwanda, who was in charge of the Rwandan government? Who was the prime minister of Rwanda?
A. At the time in charge of the government well, there was of course the president, Ndindiliyimana, and then there was Madam Agathe, who was
|Posted by Moderator on 14 July, 2021 at 10:15||comments (427)|
Multilateral organisations represent the collective resolve of nations to establish a
system based on shared values of peace, prosperity and freedom, where ideological
difference can be navigated for mutual benefit. Replacing an international system of
colonial enterprise and shifting blocs of military alliances, the UK helped to build a new
order and forums for international dialogue. This system, and the organisations that
serve it, has brought huge benefits to the people of the UK and to humanity at large. It
is now in jeopardy.
Disengagement over contentious issues reduces the effectiveness of multilateral
organisations, but far more serious are attempts to bend the purpose of, or even break
the organisations themselves. We have seen attempts by countries such as China to
seize control of strategically important organisations and fundamentally redefine the
once universally agreed principles on which they are based. This allows multilateral
organisations to be weaponised against the founding principles upon which they were
built. Even more serious are attempts by states to disrupt the work of multilateral
organisations in order to maintain their power bases at home and abroad.
Although the UK Government has at times successfully countered malign interference
in multilateral organisations we believe that it has failed to adequately respond to the
creeping capture of organisations by China. With the United States re-engaging in the
multilateral sphere, this is an important time for the UK and its allies to reassert their
commitment to multilateral organisations through actions as well as words.
The UK is well placed to mobilise like-minded states to respond to these challenges. It
has a world class diplomatic network, significant soft power, and is a major financial
contributor to multilateral organisations.
In order to break the cycle of decline in multilateral organisations, we have identified
three areas in which the UK Government should act:
(1) The Government should, wherever possible, seek to use multilateral
organisations to pursue its foreign policy objectives. Engagement with these
bodies moderates the influence of those who would manipulate and undermine
them. We recommend that this engagement should include publicly calling
out states who are abusing or undermining the system, publicly voting against
attempts by such states to secure key leadership positions for their nationals.
(2) Better coordination is needed to proactively identify and respond to countries
that undermine these organisations. We recommend that the Foreign,
Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) leads within government
on a tactical element of multilateral strategy, tracking the activities of
authoritarian states within both higher and lower profile multilateral
organisations, reporting on any moves to exert influence, and adjusting
interventions accordingly. On an international level, we believe there is more
the FCDO can do to enhance coordination across its diplomatic network,
particularly between Geneva and New York, to address this undermining
4 In the room: the UK’s role in multilateral diplomacy
(3) The influence of state actors with alternative understandings of individual
rights is increasing and coordination amongst them is more effective and
pronounced. To counter such influence, we recommend that the FCDO
mobilises its soft power and convening resources to work with broad groups
of like-minded states within multilateral organisations. The UK’s departure
from the European Union provides increased incentives and opportunity for
investment in such relationships.
|Posted by Moderator on 27 May, 2021 at 7:25|
The Bangwa Quest for Restitution and Reparations
by Chief Charles A. Taku
Panel: Law versus Justice? An Intercultural Approach to the Problem of European Collections of Colonial Provenance
Wednesday, 23 June, 11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. (CET)
The topic of this conference Law versus Justice? An Intercultural Approach to the Problem of European Collections of Colonial Provenance is at the heart of a lively but difficult debate in Africa.. I have been involved in that debate since 1991. This debate should not be difficult due to the fact that the provenance of the arts in the European Collections is not in serious controversy. The debate appears not only difficult but complicated. This complication arises from the capricious nature of law which is both a bane and a balm in resolving the matter in controversy,
As a great grandson of one of Africa’s historic Kings, His Majesty Fontem Asonganyi whose artefacts are on display in the European Collections, I am fully conscious of the circumstances under which the Bangwa Queen and our other precious arts were collected by German expeditionary forces during the pendency of a punitive military campaign on February 8, 1900 which lasted nine years to avenge the death of a German citizen. An acquisition in these circumstances, cannot be deemed legal under any circumstance; although colonial rule under which the punitive expedition and the appropriation of the arts occurred, deemed it legal. Africa and European colonial possesses were not subjects of international law. Under the laws and customs of war and the principle of proportionality the degree of devastation that was caused and the looting that occurred cannot be deemed legal. Not then and not now.
There may be a distinction between arts which were procured through commercial transactions with some African monarchs and people and those which were acquired by the use of force. The laws under colonial rule which are still applicable in some African countries, did not paint these situations with the same brush. Each situation must therefore, be considered on its merit. The museums in which the European collections are on display have consistently pointed to the historical record in their possession to assert and defend their rights of ownership.
The right of ownership may not be settled by the historical record alone. The validity of such records while acknowledged, is no longer as conclusive as it was during the colonial era when it was established. The original owners did not participate in the establishment of the record.
The civilized world is conscious that, the partition of Africa among European colonial powers provided a justification for violations in which these arts were appropriated. The appropriation of these arts was an integral part of colonial policy. The former colonial masters are therefore, not innocent bystanders on this matter. Persons who appropriated the arts were their agents. They bear primary responsibility for the appropriation and for the return of the arts to their legitimate owners.
European Collections are part of African heritage and patrimony. The museums in which these arts are on display did not directly appropriate or loot them. The laws of individual colonial countries guaranteed them property rights over this African patrimony. This included the Bangwa Queen, the Bangwa King and the personal symbols of power and authority of my great grandfather. International law expect state parties to respect their treaty obligation, especially obligations towards former colonies at independence and thereafter. Former colonial powers have done little to encourage dialogue between contesting parties in the European collections. They have not paid reparations and restituted these arts to the rightful owners. They have not encouraged or organized intercultural discussions to resolve contesting claims.
This conference offers an opportunity to begin a discussion which many of the museums and private holders have hesitated to engage in. The fact that I have come forth more than a century and two decades after the German punitive expedition to seek the restitution and the payment of reparations for our arts establishes the fact that our cry for justice will not abate.
I recognize the fact that the capricious nature of law makes the exploration of other means of attaining justice, worthwhile. The United Nations Human Rights Advisory Committee adopted Resolution 20002/5 of August 12, 2002 on the recognition of responsibility and reparation for massive and flagrant violations of human rights which constitute crimes against humanity and which took place during the period of slavery, colonialism, and wars of conquest. The resolution recommended other avenues of obtaining justice without going through costly litigation. In its point 3, the resolution requested all countries concerned to acknowledge their historical responsibility and the consequences which follow from it to take initiatives which would assist, notably through debate on the basis of accurate information, in the raising of public awareness of the disastrous consequences of periods of slavery, colonialism and wars of conquest and the necessity of just reparation. The United Nations Human Rights Advisory Committee in this resolution recognized state responsibility in providing a solution to this and other historical wrongs.
The intercultural approach which is on discussion in this conference appears attractive and should be sufficiently explored. It can offer an avenue and perspective for the realisation of the goals of the United Nations Human Rights Advisory Committee which I share. The intercultural approach will provide the opportunity for the contestants to the European Collection to present a new image and message to a world which represents the true face of humanity on this matter. It may provide an opportunity for Dapper Foundation in France, the National Museum in Berlin across European others to provide us access to our spiritual symbols and our symbols of power which are their custody.
Chief Taku is a certified leading International law expert of forty years professional and trial experience. He provides legal representation for governments, victims and accused persons before international courts and tribunals.
He is the immediate past President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA) and a Trustee and member for life of the Executive Governing Council of the African Bar Association (AfBA).
As President ICCBA, Chief Taku addressed the plenary of the ICC during the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute on July 17, 2018 and the Assembly of State Parties Conference on 6 December 2018 in the Hague, Netherlands.
Over the last two decades, he represented clients at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva and the African Court on Human and Peoples ‘Rights in Arusha Tanzania.
Chief Taku ( HRH Fuatabong Achaleke Taku) is a traditional Chief in Lebang, Bangwa Fontem. He is a great grandson of His Majesty the legendary King, Fontem Asonganyi ( 1840- 1951) the King of the Bangwa-Fontem Tribe in West Africa.
Discriminatory International Justice: Paper presented at a Conference of the Collective of Victims of Burundi Genocide of the Hutu: New York May, 2, 2015
Developments in criminal jurisdiction and the impact of the International Criminal Court's prosecution and investigation policies on ICC African Situations: Presentation to ABA-SIL International Law Section, April 16, 2015
“The Marginalized Intruder: Defense Perspectives on Progressive Development of International Law” presented at a side even organized by Africa Legal Aid and co-sponsored by the governments of The Netherlands and Ghana on December 12, 2014 during the Assembly of State Parties of the International Criminal Court at the United Nations in New York.
Panelist at the legacy conference of the UNICTR, Arusha Tanzania 7 November 2014: Presented a paper on “The evolution of Defense Council in International Courts and Tribunals”.
Panelist at the ICTR Defense Legacy Conference co-organized with Laval University Montreal Canada on September 28, 2012: Presented a paper on African court, International Criminal Courts and the Quest for a new World Judicial Order.
Participant at the Legacy Conference of the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 6-7 November 2011 in the Canadian Mission to the UN in New York, USA
Invited by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC and the University of California Los Angeles Law School Senela Diana Jenkins Human Rights Project to participate in the discussion on the topic: “Is the ICC inappropriately targeting Africa”? www.iccforum.com,
Panelist at the ICTR Legacy Conference in Brussel Belgium, 2010: Presented paper titled, “Gacaca and meaning of Confessions”.
Panelist at the ICTR Legacy Conference in the Hague Netherlands in 2009: Presented a paper titled “Towards a judicial genocide of the Hutu?”
Publications in professional journals
ABA-SIL-Africa Law Today Fall/winter 2014-2015 Edition:
Evolution of Defence Systems in International Courts: Evolution of Defence systems in International Courts http://tinyurl.com/ALFall/winter2014-15.
ABA-SIL Africa September2014: The Quest for Credible International Justice: Africa Law Today (2014 spring/Summer Edition), the ABA-SIL's Africa http://tinyurl.com/ALTSpringSummer2014
ABA-SIL Africa USA March 2014: Testing the Frontiers of Inconsistent Jurisprudence: Winter Edition of Africa Law Today (2014 Winter Edition), the ABA-SIL’S Africa http://tinyurl.com/AfricaLawTodayWinterEd 2014.
The New Face of International Law: The UN Charter and the Right to Protect or Humanitarian Interventionism published in Cameroon Journal of Human.2011 Rights, http://.www.cjdh.org;
The Gacaca Courts and the meaning of Confessions .2010 Paper presented at the ICTR Defence Lagacy Conference Brussel, Belgium: www.tpirheritagedefense.org/.../Charles_Taku_gacaca
Africa at 50: Anything to celebrate? : www.nigeriaworld.com
The Politicisation of International Justice: Forth coming.
Contributor: The International Criminal Court : Contemporary Issues Facing the International Criminal Court. Edited by Professor Richard Steinberg, Leiden: Brill Nijhoff 2016
Contributor Justice Belied: Baraka Books Montreal 2014
Contextual Foundations of International Criminal Jurisprudence: An Insider Perspective: October 2012,.
Justice Illusive Justice: Tencam Press Douala Cameroon.2012
Africa Hopes and Aspirations Crucified: Tencam Press Douala Cameroon 1997
For Dame Lynda Chalker and Cameroonian Anglophone Notes: Iduma Press Aba Nigeria 1996
In Search of Cameroonian Revolution, African Press Ibadan Nigeria: 1997
|Posted by Moderator on 13 April, 2021 at 15:50||comments (359)|
By Chief Charles A. Taku
On April 14, day, 40 years ago, the chain of systemic prejudice and cultural genocide broke loose and I was authorized to do pupillage to practice law in the Chambers of the legendary lawyer and politician Hon B.T.B Foretia in Victoria. I was the first in several regards. The most important was being a chain breaker, a role I have played with determination, faith, humility and fortitude. I am grateful to God for the journey I have travelled so far. Today, in this occasion, I faithfully recommit my determination to serve God, the Merciful, the Liberator, the Truth, the Life, the Light and the Saviour with all the strength in me.
This event in my life came with a mission and a commission to defend, protect, free and give strength to the weak, the poor and the oppressed. I have been faithful to the mission and the commission. This is a mission and a commission of honour. These are the very essence of life which is humanity at its best and closer to God. God, we know, breathed the spirit of life so that we may live and serve him in humility and in faith. Yes, in humility and faith; for these are the true attributes of greatness.
Each time, that I reflect on these attributes, I remember the emphatic gestures with which my secondary teacher explained to us, the parable of the rich fool. Despite the reality of this parable, the butchery of the innocent lives of the weak, the poor and the oppressed; the thievery by the rich from the poor, primitive accumulation of wealth and the genocide of innocent people to satisfy the power ambition of a few, continue unabated. I dedicated these 40 years leading the fight to protect the majority poor, the weak and oppressed victims from these criminal kingpins; leaving the ultimate victory to God.
I have dedicated more than two decades of this eventful career in international practice in many international courts and tribunals which were established by the international community to fight impunity. During this time, I visited battlefields in different countries and witnessed unimaginable human suffering. I went in as a lawyer but was blessed with the human value of sharing the pain and suffering of persons at risk and in dire need. This provided me an opportunity to share the values of love and sharing which were implanted in me by my mother by contributing to give back to the suffering people, the true essence of humanity which they deserve. I have found the joy in recognizing in these children, women and men, dead or alive through my humanitarian engagements and the several trials in which I have participated, the face of humanity to which we are all connected.
This occasion falls in the month of April, which is the mythical month of the Saints in my family, from Fontem Asonganyi and his first son Asabanchi Fontem, Fontem Defang, Mama Helen Atabong Asaba Fontem, Fontem Njifua and several others too many to name. This occasion 40 years ago, was not an innocent co-incidence. It occurred because it is the month when these Saints pay greater attention and are united in prayers and supplication to the living God for me, the family they left behind and all persons world-wide who are engaged in the worthy mission and commission in which I am engaged. I am grateful to them and their fighting spirits which live on through their blood which is flowing in my living veins. The history books and the museums in imperial Germany kept records of the bravery of Fontem Asonganyi which have prolonged the battle for freedom and justice long enough for me to come on board to lead a world-wide crusade for the restitution of all the works of art which were looted during the German incursion more than a century ago. These arts are today in museums in Germany, USA, France and the Netherlands. The blessing of these 40 years, helped me to focus my attention on the search for these arts and their lost cultural significance in our lives and in our time.
The 40 years provided me an opportunity to train and mentor young colleagues from all legal cultures, races from all the continents who are today, leading lawyers in their respective countries and in international practice. We remain professional connected. This closeness is what the beauty of this profession is about. I am fascinated by the sense of enquiry, curiosity and mental alertness of my interns. I call them the offspring of modern technology because of the remarkable contributions they have brought to workplace during these changing times. Many of them are today, successful academics and lawyers in many parts of the world.
During this period, my peers, elected me as member of the Cameroon Bar Council for many years; President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life of the governing council of the African Bar Association. I am grateful to my colleagues in different courts and tribunals for giving me an opportunity to serve and to contribute to the enthronement of the culture and the cause of the rule of law. I am particularly grateful to the distinguished lawyers of Taku Chambers for their professionalism and the outstanding successes they continue to record in courtrooms and professional environments around the world. The most distinguished Hon B.T.B Foretia was an astounding lawyer and a fearless crusader for justice. He put me on my feet during my first appearance with him in Court. From thence, I have not relented these forty years.
I am grateful to the women and men with whom I have been engaged in all the aspects of the administration of justice and the struggle for a just, free and peaceful world. Although we play different roles we are united in a common objective, in which justice is the sole winner.
I am grateful to my family and the entire Taku and Fontem families. Mbe Taku was a hero and a warrior while his wife Mama Helen Atabong Asaba Fontem was a distinguished community leader, education advocate, politician, development agent, philanthropist and an extraordinary crusader for justice. My wife Antonia, my children Kelvin, Barbara, Ngwing and Atabong are my best friends of all times. Above all, there is a time in one’s life when a sister is everything in one’s life. My sister Bibiana Taku was a class and bench mate, a friend and a manifestation of the endless love of God to me and humanity. Miss Anne Bustarret
|Posted by Moderator on 3 July, 2020 at 19:05||comments (129)|
By Chief Charles A. Taku
The persistent call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and significant peace advocates, among them, Nobel Peace prize laureates for a cease-fire in the ongoing war of attrition and genocide in the Southern Cameroons, to allow peace efforts to be explored and access to victims in dire need of humanitarian assistance during the covic-19 pandemic has been ignored by the Government of Cameroun. What brazen insensitivity and impunity!
It is left to be seen how the international community will react to the impunity with which the rampaging hordes of assassins have been unleashed to perpetrate genocide, to loot, rape, pillage and swim in the blood of the innocent victims; women, children men of all ages. I have incessantly called on the civilized world to put an end to the carnage, genocide and impunity, lest the blood of the innocent blur the collective conscience of humanity, in our time, and on our watch.
The question is worth asking: What emboldens the masterminds of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes to disregard the calls for a ceasefire, to get to the negotiation table to address the root causes of the crisis without preconditions requested by the international community? And how come it that there has so far been no consequences for this blazon impunity?
The answer to these questions may among several reasons reside on the influence and impunity of reckless primitive capitalist accumulation in the war economy. Borrowing from the distinguished Professor Ekor Toyor, the international community needs to understand the essence, processes, contradictions, historical pressures and cultural emanations of primitive capitalist accumulation to understand the politics underpinning the politics and the impunity of the genocidal predators.
The Southern Cameroons case crystalizes around the interpretation of United Nations Resolution 1608 (XV). A British Minister in the Commonwealth and Foreign Office very recently made bold to anchor the case of his government on a flawed interpretation of Resolution 1608(XV) in a widely publicized letter to a Member of the House of Commons. An enduring resolution of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia conflict, rests on the accurate interpretation of this UNGA Resolution and the consequences of non-compliance, the violations of the sacred trust embedded in the UN Charter and the sanctity of universal erga omnes obligations towards the people the Southern Cameroons.
If since October 1, 1961, the matter was as simply a a matter of the interpretation of the UNGA Resolution 1608 (XV) as the Hon Minister now purports, why then has Great Britain the Trust Administering Power, LRC , the colonising power or the UN not taken up the matter to obtain expert interpretation to ascertain if the intendment of the resolution and UN Charter obligations were respected and implemented? Why vacillate for over 59 years during which period genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes claiming the precious lives of over 13000 and the deportation of hundreds of thousands to Nigeria and many countries in West Africa has occurred with impunity; and for economic gain, and the corruption of the consciences and gratification of the economic interests of colonial and neo-colonial interests ? Why have they not activated the mechanism for the resolution of conflicts through the international rule of law enshrined in the UN Charter to interpret the Resolution; provide a comprehensive solution to the conflict, abate the genocide and crimes and hold the masterminds accountable pursuant to founding objectives for which the UN was founded?
I cannot at this point in time conclude that the UN will do nothing or will act in a manner that will encourage tacitly endorse or encourage the ongoing genocide and impunity. The UN internal mechanisms have been activated and the competent organs are constantly briefed while some of its personnel and ancillary organs are engaged; each at its own pace, although the intensity of the carnage warrants an urgent and robust intervention.
However, the impunity and reluctance of LRC to hasten to respect the call of the civilized world to abate the slaughter and impunity has been aggravated by the devastation of the covid-19 pandemic. The benefits to its war economy has demotivated Cameroun from respecting the request for a ceasefire and calling its forces back to barracks to allow humanitarian and healthcare assistance to war victims in the forests and bushes of the Southern Cameroons. Cameroun and its colonial master have benefited from the spoils of annexation and colonisation of the Southern Cameroons since the night of September 30, 1961 and finds it hard to disengage from a territory and people it has exploited for almost six decades with impunity.
Fon Gorgi Dinka termed the deal which led to the annexation and colonisation of the Southern Cameroons the Mc McLeod slave deal. By this deal, Her Majesty’s Government in the night of September 30, 1961 folded the Union Jack and handed over the instruments of sovereignty over the Southern Cameroons to a war criminal Ahmadou Ahidjo . At the time, he was intensifying the slaughter of nationalists in his own country, LRC. Britain knew that the war criminal would slaughter, jail and plunder the Southern Cameroons in enforcing the slave deal; as indeed he did, and his successor has intensified with sadistic impunity.
Ambazonia however kept the international legality of surrounding its fate and date with history, on October 1, 196. On October 1, 1961, it was its elected government that was in place and all symbols of state and UNGA Resolution 1608(XV) have survived the thievery for posterity to plead and defend its case and sovereignty until the last man standing. The impunity and complicity in the Alibaba booty was explained by Ahmadou Ahidjo in a speech to the National Assembly of LRC on August 11, 1961. He discounted the usefulness of signifying a treaty of union with the Southern Cameroons after it attained independence on October 1, because for him, the Southern Cameroons was merely returning to LRC’s motherland. He intended to adjust LRCs constitution of 4th March 1960 to accommodate its territory to the LRC motherland. It is this arrogance of impunity and the fulfilment of the criminal qui pro quo that took place at the Tiko Airport in the night of September 30, 1961 that led this criminal mastermind to make the fundamental mistake of believing that through terror of impunity he would annex and colonise the Southern Cameroons with no consequences. History has proved that he was wrong and will always be wrong.
There concealment of the spoils of the slave deal were wrapped in deception and shameful lies. The British argued that the Southern Cameroons was poor and could not survive economically on its own. This shameful status-evaluation was false. History has proved that the British and the French knew about the extensive mineral and natural resources potential of the Southern Cameroons. The British managed the CDC, PAMOL, exploited the Southern Cameroons Maritime Economy. Britain exploited the strategic and regional security potential of the Southern Cameroons. The Southern Cameroons had significant hydro-electric potential, Sea Ports and Airports.
Lately a British Firm signed an oil exploitation deal in the territory at the heart of the genocide to help LRC in its genocidal war efforts. An official British Government statement announced and praised the deal. An attempt by LRC to auction extensive forest and agrarian ancestral lands covering almost half of the territory of the Southern Zone of Ambazonia with the complicity of puppet chiefs and fringe power elites was strongly resisted by the people. The internationalisation of the protest forced the land grabbers to withdraw but the land grabbing crusade of the invaders remains unabated.
The peaceful resistance, resilience and gallantry in the fight against the plunder led to the declaration of a vicious war against the armless civilian population by President Paul Biya of LRC. This led to the ongoing slaughter and genocide; the prosecution of which has led to the exponential increase of the benefit derived from its the war economy.
The bourgeoisie class of colonial puppets to whom power was handed over in LRC after the slaughter of pro-independence nationalists in that country, sustained colonial power overseers over French colonial vassal and neo-colonial war economy. To sustain the war economy and exact maximum benefits, through systemic terror, asphyxiation of the so-called power elite, supposed academic and faculty opportunists, mystical initiations, systemic corruption, masturbation of the intellect etc, allegiances are compelled and human consciences subdued. Houses of worship and clerics are freely rented to perform rituals and praise worshipping to glorify not the living God but the god of their pecuniary desires.
The spoils of the war economy recruited some clergy on the side of those who are baying for and wasting the precious lives of people whom God created in his image and for whom these supposed anointed ones were commissioned to lead in their salvific sojourn towards the Kingdom of God. I am consoled by the fact that the Church of God is holy. It must not be abused and conflated with cursed Alibaba caves of earthly treasure that some are showcasing in the context of the war economy. Christians and persons of faith in the Lord must therefore, intensify prayers and leave Alibaba treasure seekers to play their acquired roles in the circus of earthly power and primitive capitalist accumulation.
The apparent senselessness and futility of the unwinnable war and genocide in the Southern Cameroons by LRC would reasonably have led to a withdrawal of its troops from the territory to the barracks and sought a negotiated settlement. The history of armed conflicts in Africa requires a respectable decision to stop the genocide, the carnage, looting, rape and indignities to victims. The war in Sierra Leone went on for 10 years, ending in the Lomé Peace Accord. A combined force of the Sierra Leone Army, ECOMOG, UNAMSIL, Executive Outcomes mercenaries brought by the Government of Sierra Leone did not defeat the Revolutionary United Front for Sierra Leone in the battlefield. Cameroun cannot win this senseless war of choice in the battlefield. It must end in an international negotiation table where internationally recognized experts, will examine the root causes of the conflict without pre-conditions has an overwhelming majority of international opinion has stated.
This reality is not lost on Cameroun’s leaders, its civilian and military commanders but the gain derived from the war economy is driving their urge to continue the war, regardless of the consequences and loss of human life. This is what is driving the impunity and urge to continue a losing war with the magnitude of the genocide, crimes against humanity and the ferocity of the war crimes.
This war is also about a policy of slaughtering civilians to sustain annexation, cultural genocide also called national integration which President Paul Biya confessed in France early this year has failed. The founding underpinning of the war is economic which was the basis of the annexation and colonisation in the first place. Inspired by this ideological orientation and motivation, the war is a cash cow for the enrichment of a colonial bourgeoisie puppetry at the evening of its life; but intent to drawn in the blood of Southern Cameroonians and sink with its natural resources and subsistence economy. These are the dire consequences of the war economy, impunity and the crisis of primitive accumulation.
There are two important obstacles standing between the Southern Cameroons and the unimpeded prosecution of this policy: Resistance, spiritual purity, the strength and the justice of its case around UNGA Resolution 1608 (XV) as well as the fact that the price of impunity will be fully paid now or at some point in time. In this regard, every pin of blood unjustly taken away will be accounted for and every victim, dead or alive will cry for and obtain justice.
|Posted by Moderator on 6 June, 2020 at 0:10||comments (362)|
December 15, 2014
By Chief Taku
A major contribution of Professor Ali Mazrui was to reawaken and affirm the humanity of the black race and the underlying liberating values that sustain this reality. An enduring effect of centuries of crimes that were perpetrated against the black race from the slave trade, to the “Berlin Bazaar”, colonialism, neo-colonialism and other variants of international conspiracy that are ongoing is cultural genocide. In this cultural genocide, African cultures were vandalized; interdicted and sub-human foreign values imposed in their place. A hallmark of the cultural genocide first to destroy the humanity of the black race was to impose an image of God that was totally foreign to the black race. In this situation, while other races recognized God in themselves and in their own cultures, Africans did the contrary. The result is that the creative genius in the black race that inspired the marvelous inventions and developments in the sciences, architecture, arts, religion, and philosophy was suppressed or simply lost. The evidence of this is found in a fragmented continent, lost kingdoms, endangered human species, a devastated cultural heritage, valuable artifacts and precious treasures in western museums, palaces, universities, religious sanctuaries and imperial homes. This is explained or depicted as the glorious prizes of gallantry at wars against savage black people living in the caves of the Dark Continent. African intellectuals were trained or taught to participate in the destruction of their own cultures, to resent indigenous values, to abdicate their own cultural identity and forsake their common spirituality. Franz Fanon in his classic book, The Wretched of the Earth (1966), laments that during the period of decolonization, certain colonized intellectuals began to dialogue with the bourgeoisie of the colonialist countries and during this period, the indigenous population was discerned only as an indistinct mass. Fanon posits that during the period of liberation, the colonialist bourgeoisie feverishly looked for contacts with the elite to carry out rearguard action with regard to culture, values, techniques etc. According to Fanon, the most essential value for the people is land because it brings bread and above all dignity; dignity which has little to do with dignity of the human person for natives can be arrested, brutalized, starved, and dehumanized and no professor of ethics, no priest, ever comes to be beaten in his place or share his bread with him. Fanon sees the so-called elite and black intellectuals as either mere opportunists or agents of oppression. Nwafor Orizu in “The Corrupting Influence of the West” casts the so-called colonial educated intellectuals, among them lawyers, for considering African cultures and traditions as heathenism which they surveyed with high contempt, obeying no laws, and observing no rules. Ali Mazrui broke ranks with these categories and took upon himself the responsibility of researching, studying, and presenting to the world, the distinct supreme human values in African cultures and their unique contributions to world civilization. Like Franz Fanon, he identified the humiliating and dehumanizing predicament of the black race and Western vampire proclivities that threatened and continue to threaten the very existence of the black race. This dehumanizing predicament was brought about by a policy of cultural genocide which aimed at destroying the Africans, in whole or in part, on the basis of their culture and race. With his towering intellectual acumen, he led the crusade to marshal the contributions of African intellectuals towards the study of African cultures and values for the amelioration of the African condition. He critically legitimized the creation of cultural awareness among Africans in particular, and the black race in general, as critical tools for our freedom, liberation and collective survival. He taught the world that the cultural, environmental, spiritual, socio-economic and political attributes that Africa possessed like the hydra shall rise to serve and save humanity. In this he was profound, relevant and commanded with significant success the battle for the re-conquering of black humanity as the very canon of its own collective survival and existence. At the time of his death, Ali Mazrui had eternalized the fight to roll back the cultural genocide that was ongoing for several centuries, an impressive legacy for the present generation and posterity. The battle is ongoing with intensive ferocity. However, looking at the record and legacy of Professor Ali Mazrui, I am hopeful that the future of a peaceful, prosperous world belongs to the cradle of human existence, Africa. In his television series, “The Africans: A Triple Heritage,” he was optimistic about this. So am l.
*Chief Charles A. Taku is a Pan-Africanist lawyer, writer and author of books and professional articles on international law. He led counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal -UNICTR, Special Court for Sierra Leone and the “ICC Continuing investigation in the Republic of Kenya for Dr. David Matsanga. With co-counsel, Betty Lyons, he obtained a remarkable acquittal in the Military II trial at the ICTR.
|Posted by Moderator on 6 June, 2020 at 0:00||comments (46)|
By Dr Bate Besong
In our ‘White Collar Delinquent’s Democracy’
Where the monopoly of power is
the birthright of those
who get it by crook
and the state apparatus is
and instrument of personal vendetta;
elections are won
under the ogogoro of
Monsieur Chirac’s distillery
Many southern Cameroonians have been misled by
their wrong ideas have warped
They want to count the raindrops or
the sand along
They refuse to change, to be converted.
Tadpole armies and their Brigadier Generals will
realize the self-appointed
Commanders-in-chief are nothing
more than the works of human hands
Everything made by racketeers of power
will decay and perish, along
with the thieves who made it.
The people who build the world are the ones
who do not follow the example so the kokoro insect
under the leaf of
Wounds can be
bandaged and insults can
but if you betray a
confidence it is hopeless just
as thieves will suffer disgrace freelance mutants
of power will suffer severe condemnation
The lord Mayors of the Ewondos died and all he then
possessed are flies worms and maggots
Injustice, arrogance and wealth cause federations
to fall from
power and others then rise to take
The Sultan of ‘‘Go-if-you-don’t like it-here’’ is despised
while he is on the throne think
how much Ahmadou Ahidjo’s corpse will be flogged
in it’s Re-unification Qui-or-
Yes caskets; Where thieves will wander in and help
No one should ask why things are as they are
These questions will be answered at the right time.
August 31, 2006 at 10:37 AM
|Posted by Moderator on 6 June, 2020 at 0:00|
UMASKING ANOTHER INTERNATIONAL CONSPIRACY: HAIL THE RULE OF LAW.
BY Chief Charles A. Taku
The judgment of the Nigeria Federal High Court in Abuja on March 1, 2019, declaring illegal and unconstitutional, the abduction and deportation to Cameroun of the President of the Interim Government of the Southern Cameroons/Ambazonia Sisiku Ayuk Tabe, members of the Interim Government and several Southern Cameroons refugees carries significant symbolic weight.
The judgment has comprehensively determined the legal status of the abductees which was in controversy since Cameroun characterized them as terrorists on the account of alleged crimes committed against Cameroun from the territory of Nigeria; so, the Isa Tchiroma and the Court-martial alleged. The Federal High Court of Abuja Nigeria on the territory of which the crimes alleged in the court-martial were allegedly committed has decided that they are persons who were legally in the territory of Nigeria as refugees under the protection of international conventional law at the time of their abduction and deportation. They were not therefore terrorists nor did their presence and activities constitute terrorism to warrant their being characterized as terrorists to warrant abduction and deportation to face a court-martial. Even if they were terrorists, international law still outlawed the abduction and deportation without compliance with the municipal and international rule of law.
This judicial determination settles a key issue in the subsequent case brought against the victims by Cameroun, the state to which they were deported. The failure of the court-martial in Cameroun where the abductees are forcefully subjected over their objections, to take judicial notice of the Judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court will have bilateral relations and multilateral treaty obligations consequences on the two countries, in the short and long term. Nigeria and Cameroun are state parties to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees and its Additional Protocol 1967. Both countries are state parties to the OAU 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of the Refugee Problem in Africa which came into force in 1974.
The refugee problem globally and in Africa is a matter of significant international emergency, if not a humanitarian crisis. Without the existing multilateral treaty regime to manage this humanitarian crisis, millions, of the world’s vulnerable refugee population will be pursued across international boundaries and slaughtered by the murderous regimes and criminal squads from whom they fled in the search for protection. International law mandates state parties to the Refugee Convention to open their frontiers to allow refugees fleeing from wars, genocide, crimes against humanity and other life-threatening conditions to their lives to provide them protection. International law outlaws the abduction, deportation, rendition or the refoulement of persons who have sought refugee status to the countries from which they fled. Once the status of refugees is sought or obtained, the person concerned becomes a ward of international law under the Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol. State Parties to the Refugee Convention are mandated to ensure compliance and indeed are obligated to submit periodic reports on compliance with their treaty obligations under the convention. Nigeria and Cameroun had a multilateral obligation to ensure that the refugee status of the abductees in Nigeria was respected and protected. Their mandate and responsibility are to the international community, since the 1951 Refugee Convention has near world wide membership. By engaging in criminal conduct to abduct and deport the victims to face a court-martial that applies the death penalty to Cameroun, Nigeria and Cameroun betrayed, violated and endangered the multilateral treaty regime and a protected international human rights value system.
The Federal High Court Judgment provided an opportunity to Nigeria to explain to the world, the rationale and legality of the abductions. It is significant that Nigeria did not convince the court that the abduction and deportation was informed by any compellable reasons justifiable in municipal and /or international law. Nigeria did not convince the court of any legally justified reason to violate with impunity the Nigeria Federal Constitution (1969), its multilateral treaty obligations under the UN Refugee Convention and its Additional Protocol, the African Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Rome Statute. There is no compelling reason to explain why Nigeria mortgaged its reputation, its influence in Africa and its claims to lead and represent Africa as a world power at the UN Security Council to fulfil the dictatorial and criminal proclivities of a regime baying for the blood of millions of Southern Cameroonians. Hundreds of thousands of Southern Cameroonians have been deported by Cameroun from their ancestral home which are systematically torched as a deliberate government policy as senior military commanders and civilian government officials have admitted, across the border with Nigeria. The victims who at a great risk of a genocide sought international protections within the territory of Nigeria are living under continuing threat of abduction and assassination, after Nigeria provided support to Cameroun to pursue the commission of international crimes against them in the territory of Nigeria.
The answer as to what endeared President Mohammadu Buhari to place Nigeria at the centre of an unfolding genocide, rather than acting as a facilitator of negotiations and peace may not be answered in this one critical historic judgment. Yet the judgment has the merit of laying an enduring foundation for answers to be provided within the compelling injunction of history. The truth, it is said, will never die with those who thought they could imprison it with sheer political chicanery and stealth transborder corrupt operations. Truth is as stubborn as a rock. Nigeria and Cameroun are aware, and this is important, that the underlying cause of the war declared by Paul Biya as a proxy of France, are the resources within the territory of the Southern Cameroons. These minerals are the umbilical cord to the perennial Nigeria misadventure that has devasted the Niger Delta, its ecosystem, maritime resources, economy and human health. Time will reveal if there are a convergence of economic and hegemonic interests by the known yet, invisible political god fathers enforcing the genocide using Nigeria and Cameroun proxies.
I learnt from my years as a lead counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Lone, in the case of the Revolutionary United from for Sierra Leone (RUF)-Morris Kallon that minerals are the curse of Africa. That is why Central Africa Republic has never been at peace since independence despite its mineral rich capabilities. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is one case in point; so also, Burundi where abundant mineral resources have attracted the interest and wrath of neo-colonial economic and natural resource predators.
The bazaar auctioning of the Southern Cameroons at independence as my late friend Dr Bate Besong stated, or the Mc McLeod slave deal, as the father of Ambazonia Fon Gorgi Dinka described it, was intended to silence the liberating ambition of Ambazonia patriots. For the record, the slave and bazaar dealers did not know that Ambassbay from which Ambazonia derived its name, stood watch over the liberating spirit of its Ambazonia offspring. Ambassbay is a natural environment for the sharks in the Ambazonia sea as opposed to the neighbouring sea which is inhabited by “crayfish”. Those with a good sense of aquatic life know that a shark is not an ordinary fish, surely not a crayfish. And this is where the difference lies.
This judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court conveys an underlying message to the abductors that the abduction of Southern Cameroons leaders and citizens will have consequences that may potentially threaten peace and security in the Gulf of Guinea. That Nigeria has become a key ally of the state actor that declared the war of choice that have the capacity of igniting a conflagration in the Gulf of Guinea affecting its own citizens and interests on both sides of the borders, is a matter of profound concern.
The judgment is a municipal judgment on compliance by Nigeria of its multilateral treaty and constitutional obligations. Finding that Nigeria violated its municipal laws and treaty obligations, is an important contribution to international law. This judgment therefore must be served on the United Nations Secretariat, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, all the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council through their permanent representations in New York, all ECOWAS state parties through their diplomatic representations in Abuja, the EU state parties present in Brussels, the AU Commission, and give wide publicity.
This judgment negates the charge by Cameroun that the abductees were and are terrorists. Nigeria did not make this charge before and during the hearing. Nigeria should be concerned that persons found to be refugees by its own judiciary are facing a court-martial based on international and municipal violations of its own government. With this judgment, the blood of the abductees and other Southern Cameroonians will lay on the hands of Nigeria should they be further held in violation of this judgment or should they be executed pursuant to the court-martial.
International law mandates that any offence committed on the territory of Nigeria can be investigated and prosecuted by Nigeria failing which Nigeria can send the refugees to a third country willing to accept them but not to the country from which they fled and sought refuge in Nigeria. Will Nigeria submit itself to a court-martial in Cameroun to provide evidence of acts alleged in the charges before the court-martial that were allegedly committed in Nigeria? Does Nigeria recognize a court-martial for civilians which is international human rights jurisprudence has characterised as torture and thus illegal? Does Nigeria by the abductions give legal approval to the crime of abduction which criminalised under the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party? Is abduction of civilians not one of the crimes alleged against Boko Haram in which hundreds of thousands of Nigerian civilians have lost their lives? The Abuja High Court trial was an occasion for Nigeria to prove that abduction is legal when conducted by a state actor but illegal when carried out by non-state actors. Nigeria failed to prove this or even convince the court that this crime may be legal under such or other circumstances.
Nigeria under President Mohammadu Buhari tends to disobey court orders and indeed disobeyed the order of the Federal High Court in Abuja made by Justice Gabriel Kolawole dated December 2, 2016 ordering the release of Ibrahim el Zazaky the leader the Shiite Muslim Movement who was abducted by the DSS on December 13, 2015. The DSS alleged that he was detained at his own request for protection. The Judge was unpersuaded on the grounds that protective custody was unknown to law or National Security Agencies Act establishing the DSS. Since December 29, 2015, Colonel Abubakar Malami former National Security Adviser of President Goodluck Jonathan has remained in jail despite court orders for his release.
However, in a suit brought by a constitutional lawyer Johnmary Jideobi praying the court to void the SAN of the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami for professional misconduct for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders, the Attorney General refused being held accountable for advising the Federal Government to disrespect court orders and that he was not informed about the detentions and so his advice was never sought in the cases. The Attorney General argued in his defence that in cases where his advice was sought, he advised, and the Federal Government complied with court orders. He cited the release on bail of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu the leader of Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and that of the survivals of an attack on an uncompleted house in Abuja which was stormed and murdered by some operatives of the National Intelligence Services after the Nigeria Human Rights Commission ordered that victims and their dependents be compensated.
This defence by the attorney therefore begs the questions, if he was never informed how then did, he enters appearance to defend the illegal actions of the Nigeria Government?
Africa, and African leaders should hail the Judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in Abuja and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to execute it without delay. This judgment protects the municipal and international protections of refugees afforded by multilateral treaties and municipal constitutional provisions. The international multilateral treaty regime has been tested and proved to be critical in checking the excesses and exactions of the world refugee crisis and the humanitarian calamity that is rocking the conscience of humanity. In their imposed inhuman dungeons Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and the Ambazonia abductees represent the face of humanity at risk. This judgment protects that human value represented by Sisiku Ayuk Tabe. African leaders and the international community should applaud this judgment and pressurise Nigeria and Cameroun to obey and execute it.
This judgment should be a shock reminder to everyone, the powerful and the weak, that a refugee is a protected ward of humanity and the legal regimes emplaced to protect him or her attest to this fact. Abducting and deporting refugees to be court-martialled or placing them in harm’s way tantamount to driving a sword on the collective conscience of humanity. This should not be allowed to happen without consequences.
I have a message for those responsible for the abduction and court-martial of civilian victims. Respecting this judgment may be the only opportunity for them to avoid placing their own poisoned chalices to their own lips. Babatoura Ahmadou with the use of terror pursued nationalists who sought refuge in foreign lands but died a refugee himself in solitude in distant Senegal. The refugee status he imposed on others and pursued, abducted and killed or assassinated them was the status that protected and sustained him until he died. In 1968, Joseph Desire Mobutu otherwise called Mobutu Sese Seko lured and murdered Pierre Mulele over strong world-wide appeals and condemnation. Mobutu died a miserable refugee in Morocco. The extensive empire he acquired through, murder, looting and plundering the mineral resources of his country are in ruins. The blood of the thousands he slaughtered to keep himself in eternal power still haunts the memory of him. His countrymen and women are even traumatised, turning his extensive empire into the memorial for his innocent victims.
This recorded history may already have extended a hand of invitation to the actors in the theatre of criminality and violations that the Federal High Court High Court in Abuja addressed in this judgment. Whether they will on their own volition abide by this judgment, is not known to me. However, this judgment is addressed to the collective conscience of Humanity represented by the multilateral treaty regime which the court found was violated. The multilateral treaty regime must demonstrate that it has teeth and that it must not condone or encourage the impunity of state violators of their treaty obligations, lest it wrongly encourages non-state actors. Nigeria itself has a refugee problem in far and distant lands, including Cameroun. It will be unfortunate if Nigerians allow their government to determine their fate through the legitimisation of the violations found in this judgment.
I wish to conclude by addressing a few words to Ambazonians who should be strategizing on how to rely on this judgment to highlight their predicament worldwide where ever they find themselves. I am appalled by how much social media activism and sideshows are distracting them from following the rapidly evolving events that may determine their fate yet again while they are asleep or self-destructing in search of power. While internal squabbles must be addressed, that cannot override rallying behind the Interim Government that instructed the lawyers working on this and other cases to raise the profile of the cases to the highest levers of international intervention. While not trivialising the complaints or matters which some components of the struggle may hold dear to their hearts, and I will not and never get involved in such squabbles, I strongly advise all Ambazonians, to henceforth recognize that the Abuja abduction of Sisiku Ayuk Tabe and others and their deportation to Cameroun requires a strong international legal intervention. It is a crime against the Rome Statute which Nigeria is a state party. The unwritten underpinning of the Judgment indeed has this implication. It has violated the UN multilateral treaty regime and that of the AU.
Social media activism alone will not get this judgment executed, enforced. It will not rely on the judgment to pursue all international crimes and violations in which hundreds and thousands of civilians are systematically exterminated and civilian settlements, places of worships and hospitals are torched and reduced to rubbles. It is therefore advisable to support the IG to move quickly to fulfil these tasks while other weighty issues are internally reviewed and quickly redressed without the intension of rocking the boat for the sake of power. Protracted disagreement empowers adversaries. Clearly established areas of agreement should be identified, and prioritised and collective action sought to attain the position outcomes while perennial disagreements struggle for institutional solutions. What cannot wait even for a minute are contributions intended for the collective good, the protection of victims, refugees, vulnerable categories and preventive and protective strategies.
Chief Charles A. Taku