Erdogan & the International Criminal Court

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Posted on May 14, 2016, 9:46 pm
8 mins

The International Criminal Court (ICC), is an international tribunal with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

Specifically it deals with:

– Genocide:

Article 6 defines the crime of genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

– Crimes against humanity

Article 7 defines crimes against humanity as acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.

-War crimes

Article 8 defines war crimes depending on whether an armed conflict is either international (which generally means it is fought between states) or non-international (which generally means that it is fought between non-state actors, such as rebel groups, or between a state and such non-state actors). In total there are 74 war crimes listed in article 8.The most serious crimes, however, are those that constitute either grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which only apply to international conflicts, and serious violations of article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which apply to non-international conflicts.

– Crimes of aggression

Quite interestingly, Turkey is a Non-party, non-signatory state for the ICC, nonetheless it should be interesting to examine if the actions of the President of Turkey who is both de facto and de jure leader of Turkey, fit in the aforementioned categories.

However, if the UN Security Council refers a situation that took place in the territory of a state that has both not become party to the Rome Statute for the ICC and not lodged a declaration with the Court, the Court will still be able to prosecute crimes that occurred within that state.

There are numerous and from various credible media and citizens sources, video material that clearly show the Turkish Army is bombing civilian facilities, including: residential areas, schools and cultural centers within Kurdish populated areas in Turkey’s Eastern territories.

Moreover it is logical to assume that satellite imaginary from state powers that possess such abilities, could also verify the above. Moreover there are countless first hand witness testimonies along with international NGO’s that further support the facts.

In such case Erdogan faces hypothetically the accusations of “Article 7 for crimes against humanity” which defines crimes as acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.

Furthermore the war in Syria has provided numerous examples of complicity of Turkey due to Erdogan’s presumed orders, of orchestrating supply lines for internationally recognized terrorist groups (i.e. ISIS, Al Nusra) , along with the use of Turkish territory as logistics and re-grouping area for such groups who in turn commit crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq.

Presently the international press counts literally thousands of documented accusations, some of which have been already submitted to the UN general assembly, the EU Parliament and other intergovernmental bodies. In such case “Crimes of aggression” are stipulated and more specifically “Sending armed bands, groups, irregulars, or mercenaries to carry out acts of armed force” , deriving from United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3314 of 1974.

Moreover the current EU-Turkish negotiations regarding the stoppage of the refugee/immigration wave from Turkey to the EU have revealed that in essence Turkey through Erdogan controls the flow at its whim.

In simple words the flow is not a “natural phenomena” but a political tool by Erdogan’s side vis-a-vis his relations with the EU. In such case article 7 of “Crimes against humanity” could apply and in detail the accusation of “forcible transfer of population” and specifically for Syrian unaccompanied children (tens of thousands in 2015) the accusation of genocide based on “Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”.

Apart from the above, the use of para-state mechanisms to silence journalists, media and free speech within Turkey constitutes a clear violation of UN chapters and prohibits any notion for Turkey ever been accepted into the EU. Since it is internationally recognized that President Erdogan fully controls the country’s executive, legislative and judicial branches, thus he is responsible for such acts. In sort -although in a highly hypothetical manner- Erdogan could be liable for all wrong doings happening in Turkey in present era.

For the moment the only line of defense of Erdogan is the inability of UN security council reaching a political and viable solution in Syria which further feeds neo-Ottoman ambitions of Erdogan and fuels the vicious circle of the war in Syria, which in turn further destabilizes the whole of the Middle East and Europe via the “controlled weapon of immigration”.

As far as the EU is concerned negotiating with a person that has as a life goal to re-instate a new Ottoman Empire is out of the question. Erdogan is not Turkey but a passage in its history and desperately tries to drag the whole of Europe to serve his own goals. Instead of futile negotiations, serious investigations should come forward that will examine if the Turkish territory is used not only as a transit for terrorists (Jihadi volunteers) from West to East, but also vice versa and if recent attacks in Paris and Brussels had any indirect link with Neo-Ottoman designs.

Likewise, research into the likelihood nexus of international criminal high-level networks and Erdogan should be put in place, when dealing with drug trafficking, illegal immigration and money laundering of known terrorist groups.

It is high time for the EU and also the whole of the Western world to stand up to its values and also to its true geopolitical interests, which dictate for many centuries that a strong West needs free and uninterrupted access to the East and not a “bogeyman” to whom extortion would have to be paid every now and then.

Otherwise Erdogan mimics will appear in other locales, whilst instability will reign further into the heart of Europe.

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Political & Security Analyst-Consultant

Ioannis Michaletos is an associate of the Institute for Defense & Security Analysis and the Mediterranean Center For Strategic Analysis and Intelligence in Athens, Greece. He is a political and security consultant for the IHS Jane’s Information Group and a Southeast European correspondent for the European Oil & Gas Monitor and the European Energy Review. He is an author and research coordinator for the Balkanalysis regional media service.

Mr. Michaletos leads the Southeast European office of the World Security Network Foundation, contributes to the BRIGHT magazine in issues of Balkan organized crime, and is a member of the FLARE network (European network of civil society against transnational organized crime).