Auteursarchief: Sophie van Leeuwen

“Est-ce qu’il y a le téléphone chez toi?” – Croquemort contre les préjugés des Européens

Dans cette édition de My Song, Croquemort, de son vrai nom Didier Lalaye, parle de son slam « Cousin de l’UE ». Il demande aux Européens de mettre fin à cette « castration morale » que sont les préjugés envers l’Afrique. « Personnellement j’ai été victime de plusieurs préjugés, explique l’artiste. (…) J’ai eu ce genre de questions par mail : “Est-ce qu’il y a le téléphone chez toi ? Est-ce que les avions atterrissent là-bas ?” »

Qui est Croquemort ?
Croquemort, de son vrai nom Didier Lalaye, est un slameur tchadien. Ses textes parlent des frustrations et des émotions que le peuple du Tchad expérience au quotidien. Quand il n’écrit pas, Croquemort soigne : il est aussi médecin.

Produced by Sophie van Leeuwen and Serginho Roosblad
Filmed by Serginho Roosblad
Edited by Sophie van Leeuwen

Y’en a marre, la révolution sénégalaise

Ils viennent d’horizons différents — des musiciens, des activistes et journalistes — et ont un souhait en commun : contribuer au changement du Sénégal. Pour contrer l’état d’esprit défaitiste de leur société sénégalaise, ils ont créé le collectif “Y’en a marre”.

Pour cela, ils ont choisi la musique. Le groupe de hip-hop du collectif a écrit la chanson “Dox ak sa gox”, c’est-à-dire “marcher avec sa communauté”.

Dans cette édition de My Song, le rappeur Fou Malade parle de cette chanson et du travail de Y’en a marre.

Production : Sophie van Leeuwen et Serginho Roosblad
Caméra : Sandesh Bhugaloo
Montage : Sophie van Leeuwen

Election: We might not get the best ICC judges

Bas Zwerwinksi/AP

Bas Zwerwinksi/AP

Six new ICC judges will be elected in December. But how qualified are these people? William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court is leading a campaign to ensure they are highly qualified for the job. The ICC state members will gather in December during the Assembly of State Parties (ASP) for the elections. This interview with Pace is based on questions from young Kenyans and Ivorians (The Hague Trials Kenya and Ivoire Justice).

Q: What are the criteria to select judges?

The ICC needs six people with extensive courtroom experience, great experience in international law, international humanitarian law and hopefully broader experience in international justice.

Today, many people have been trained at, for example, the Yugoslav tribunal and the Rwandan tribunal. We hope governments will look for people who have real experience at those levels.

Q: You hope? So… you might not get the best judges?

Unfortunately, governments don’t always nominate the best people. This also happens on the national level, often for political reasons. So yes, we might not get the best candidates. We are campaigning to ensure that the highest qualified candidates are nominated and elected to the ICC bench to ensure its fairness, efficiency and independence.

Q: Bad news for international justice?

We know there has to be a tremendous improvement in how international trials and the investigations are run. I hope the international community will work together in order to achieve this. At the urging of civil society, the first judicial elections were held last year, with states undertaking their own qualified assessment of the judicial candidates. This will happen again for the December elections.

Big powers know best how to get their candidates elected, even if they might not be the best person for the job. Some people also see the ICC as a nice step in their career. But no one wants a surgeon without experience in surgery. We need the same value applied to the ICC. We must have best practice justice in the future.

Q: Will here be an Ivorian or Kenyan judge?

Out of 17 nominations, there are candidates from Benin, Ghana, DRC, Madagascar, Tunisia, France, Lithuania, Brazil, Korea, Croatia, Estonia, Poland, Hungary, Timor-Leste, Germany, Sweden and Georgia.

Q: Does the CICC train ICC judges?

CICC does not provide any training. Our main focus is to increase the quality of the nomination and election procedures.

Most of the new judges are not completely ready to go. Many think they are. But it’s a difficult job. The ICC works with multiple legal systems, with different kinds of forensic investigations. People in the courtroom are speaking a local language from a country you have very little experience with. It’s much more complex than other courts. It’s very challenging. These complexities of international justice and the ICC alone warrant serious orientation and training.

Q: Is it possible to judge without knowing the political context?

Judges have to be completely independent, so I think the answer is yes. Of course, the ICTY often devoted considerable court time to providing the historical, political, demographic and geographic context. The international tribunals have demonstrated different degrees of success and failure, but they do hold people accountable for serious crimes. They also persuade national institutions to improve their law institutions.

Q: Ex-prosecutor Ocampo has been criticized for the OTP investigation and strategy in Kenya. Does that prove the importance of context?

The difficulties the ICC experienced in Kenya are both similar and different to other situations. In Kenya, the ICC appeared to investigate crimes allegedly committed by different ethnic and political leaders of those groups who committed post-election violence. In some of the first ICC situations, it was obvious the first prosecutor decided that to investigate crimes in a country, he needed the cooperation of government institutions. Therefore, he would not first concentrate on crimes that were possibly committed by government actors, but instead others who committed crimes. Another consideration is that if you can’t access a territory, how do you conduct a thorough investigation?

CICC members strenuously disagreed with the so-called sequential prosecution approach, and we think events have confirmed our view. Since 2012, ICC Prosecutor Bensouda has committed to avoid investigations of only one side. But if in five or ten years, we see only one side of the perpetrators of the crimes investigated, we’ll have a serious existential challenge to the system.

Sophie van Leeuwen

Sophie van Leeuwen

Q: Justice on one side, how can you end it?

Unfortunately, in many national systems, people in power think they are exempt from prosecution and investigations. It happens with big powers and small nations. It happened in Rwanda. Since the 1994, genocide only one side has been investigated. The Rwandan president fiercely opposed any change in this policy. This has been a serious problem in most of the special and ad hoc tribunals, and the ICC must change this perception.

But there are sophisticated and effective ways to change this. If many of the 122 of the member states of the ICC treaty adopt laws and institutions to investigate the ICC crimes, no matter where they occur and no matter who commits the crimes, then the international legal order will transform radically. Already, 15-20 states in Europe, Africa, South and North America, Eastern Europe and Asia have begun these processes – assisting in international arrests, putting individuals in their countries on trial for international crimes committed on other territories. Ex-leaders are tried in other countries, like the former Chadian dictator Habré in Senegal. That’s an important and progressive step. Leaders responsible for ICC crimes all over the world have to check is they can travel to a foreign country. I hope we’ll see many other democracies taking on trials themselves.

Q: Many people feel the ICC judges aren’t impartial. How can we trust the ICC?

While biased or controlled judges are sometimes found in national systems, you don’t see a lot of politically motivated judges at the international level. Every judge at the ICC must act impartially based on the Rome Statute and fair trial standards. The judicial panels are composed of three judges from different regions and legal systems. Some people have alleged that in different international trials, some judges have been not met the highest standards. But, this is more often due to incompetence than a lack of impartiality.

Impartiality of the judges can also be seen in their thorough questioning of evidence presented by the prosecution and defense. Judges and prosecutors also often disagree with each other on legal interpretations, express dissenting opinions on majority decisions, which shows that there is a robust and impartial examination of the case before them.

Q: Why do judges keep postponing some of the cases, even after confirmation of charges?

There are a number of reasons. One reason may be that due to the different juridical systems the judges come from, different judges will have different ideas and standards regarding the investigation and the prosecution requirements at different phases of the trial. There is a mixed interest. If the evidence is not convincing, a judge might say: Go and find more evidence. That is a reason why trials can take so long. Operating in different languages and crimes from many different situations at the same time, and long delays in arrests, and lack of cooperation by governments and international organizations, protection of witnesses, relocation of witnesses – the list of reasons for delays is very long.

But to say it’s all the ICC’s fault, is not accurate. National leaders sometimes interfere, witnesses change or withdraw their testimonies. There are also very many logistical difficulties that the Court encounters, with translators for example. On a national level that happens also. One cannot expect the Court not to have any problems.

Q: What is the influence of the Security Council on the ICC? And on the judges?

ICC judges, as well as the prosecutor, are independent from interference by the Security Council. The UNSC does have extraordinary powers to refer situations to the ICC prosecutor for investigation. The Security Council and especially its veto or permanent members (US, Russia, China, France, UK) have been extremely selective and hypocritical when it comes to referring situations. If Council members are protecting someone, they will never pass a resolution. By doing this, they often protect themselves. But, this selectivity is under serious challenge at the UN.

Q: How is the ICC going to ensure that Justice is achieved to those who were affected in Kenya?

The ICC alone cannot fully redress the harm caused by the murders, torture, displacement, economic damage in Kenya. The ICC is doing its utmost to address impunity and charge those believed to be most responsible for the commission of crimes against humanity. Most of the defendants currently before the Court have resources greater than the ICC. These resources, if an accused is found guilty, could be used as reparations for victims of the PEV. However, as an ICC member state that has enacted the Rome Statue into its national law, it is the responsibility of the Kenyan government first and foremost to investigate and prosecute those responsible for the PEV and provide reparations to the victims. The Kenya government has not so far.

An Advisory Committee will assess the 17 candidate judges in September, after which a report will be released by the Assembly of States Parties in October 2014.

Photo: Bas Zwerwinksi/AP

3D oorlog in de Schotse Highlands

Sophie van Leeuwen

Sophie van Leeuwen

Oergeluiden, ridderkostuums en 3D oorlogje spelen. Het Schotse verlangen naar onafhankelijkheid zit heel erg diep. Sinds de Middeleeuwen vechten de Schotten er al voor. Vlak voor het referendum (bloedstollende eindrace) over de Schotse onafhankelijheid op 18 september, leidt dat tot verheerlijking van de Schotse onafhankelijkheidsoorlogen.

Terwijl de Schotse YES campagne de overwinning ruikt en Prime Minister David Cameron zenuwachtiger en zenuwachtiger wordt, beleef ik Middeleeuwse toestanden aan de voet van de Schotse Highlands. Klik hier op mijn reportage voor Vpro’s Bureau Buitenland.

Foto´s van je dode vrienden in Syrië

Blogger Imad Bazzi zag zijn vrienden dood terug op Facebook na de geruchtmakende chemische aanval bij de Syrische hoofdstad Damascus in 2013. Ik sprak hem vorig jaar voor VPRO´s Bureau Buitenland. Klik hieronder en luister naar zijn verhaal.

Begin 2014 is in Zwitserland onderhandeld over de bloedige burgeroorlog in Syrië die aan meer dan 120.000 mensen het leven kostte.

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Schotland het Saudi-Arabië van de groene stroom?

Schotland stemt dit jaar voor onafhankelijkheid. Maar met whisky kunnen de Schotten niet overleven. Ze willen het Saudi-Arabië van de groene stroom worden. De Schotten proberen met man en macht energie uit de zee te halen. En dat is geen eenvoudige klus. Sophie stapte voor Vpro´s Bureau Buitenland in een propeller vliegtuig naar het hoge noorden. Luister hier…

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Een leger West-Afrikaanse bloggers

Als hij hard lacht, schudt zijn zware bovenlijf mee. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ze noemen hem het opperhoofd van de bloggers, “chef du village” Cyriac Gbogou, de beroemdste blogger van het West-Afrikaanse Ivoorkust. Hij slaat mij op de schouders en sleept me het feestgedruis in.

De hippe twintigers drinken goedkope, rode wijn en frisdrank. Deze villa, in een buitenwijk van Abidjan, is vanavond het centrum van de Ivoriaanse bloggers gemeenschap. De kinderen van de Afrikaanse middenklasse zijn gewapend met tablets en smartphones. En Gbogou is hun held.

Sinds zijn arrestatie in januari, is de “chef du village” beroemd. Gbogou werd opgepakt wegens zijn bemoeizucht op Twitter na een bloedbad in de nacht van 1 januari 2013. Tientallen mensen werden doodgedrukt na een vuurwerkshow. Gbogou deed verslag met de hashtag #drameplateau.

“Binnen twee uur wist de hele wereld van mijn arrestatie”, zegt Gbogou, die zichzelf webactivist noemt en 5000 volgers heeft op Twitter. “Als je invloedrijk bent, kun je bergen verzetten. Om te kunnen veranderen, heeft Afrika actieve burgers nodig.” En dus leert Gbogou andere bloggers hoe dat werkt, invloed uitoefenen.

De ministens zo fanatieke Senegalese web activist Cheikh Fall, een jonge intellectueel met een klein brilletje, 5000 volgers op Twitter, loopt ook rond op het bloggersfeestje. Hij voert zijn digitale strijd vanuit de Senegalese hoofdstad Dakar.

“Jongeren hebben genoeg van de overstromingen in hun stad, van de eeuwige beloftes en de zakkenvullende politici”, zegt Fall. En dus stellen Senegalese bloggers de politieke en sociale misstanden aan de kaak met hun mobieltjes en hashtags als #sunucause, #kebetu en #sunu2012.

Fall noemt het e-democratie, vertelt hij bij een slok sap. “Afrikaanse journalisten worden vaak onder druk gezet door hun bronnen. Maar wij, burgers en bloggers, kunnen onafhankelijk ons werk doen. Toekomstige Afrikaanse presidenten en regeringen moeten rekening houden met meer transparantie, met een democratisch debat.“

Willen Afrikaanse leiders ook luisteren naar de twitterende jeugd? Met druk van buitenaf, weet Cyriac Gbogou: “Toen ik vastzat, heeft onze president meerdere telefonische verzoeken gekregen van buitenlandse autoriteiten. Ik ben dezelfde dag nog vrijgelaten.“

Scoop in Ivoorkust

Dit weekend alle voorpagina’s gehaald in het West-Afrikaanse Ivoorkust. De Ivoriaanse ster Meiway vraagt om de vrijlating van zijn oud-president Laurent Gbagbo. En Meiway zegt sorry tegen zijn fans.

Veel (pro-Gbagbo) fans haten hem en weigeren naar zijn muziek te luisteren. De zanger zou Gbagbo tijdens de Ivoriaanse burgeroorlog (2011-2011) hebben “verraden”.

Gbagbo wacht op een mogelijk proces in de gevangenis in Scheveningen (Internationaal Strafhof). Hij is aangeklaagd voor oorlogsmisdaden. Video in het Frans voor RNW Afrique & Regards sur Gbagbo – –>


Bankfurt, home of the euro

Sophie van Leeuwen

Aan de oever van de rivier de Main verrijst een gigantische toren: het nieuwe hoofdkantoor van de Europese Centrale Bank. De ECB staat voor een monsteroperatie. Vanaf volgend jaar houdt Frankfurt toezicht op de Europese bankiers.

Deze reportage maakte ik voor VPRO Bureau Buitenland.

Fatou Bensouda, puppet or hero?

Eindelijk Fatou Bensouda geïnterviewd, de procureur van het Internationaal Strafhof in Den Haag (ICC). Eerste vraag in een serie van 6: Bent u een marionet van het Westen?

Deze video is onderdeel van Regards sur Gbagbo van de Wereldomroep nieuwe stijl. Het is een platform voor jonge Ivorianen over de zaak van hun oud-president Laurent Gbagbo bij het ICC. Klik op de banner boven voor de hele (Franstalige) website: