ICC to Investigate Alleged British War Crimes

 New Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart Sworn in by the International Criminal Court ICC, Photo Courtesy of ICC

 New Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart Sworn in by the International Criminal Court ICC, Photo Courtesy of ICC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will launch a preliminary investigation of alleged war crimes committed by British troops during the years of 2003 - 2008.

The claim being analyzed is that there were 52 cases of unlawful killing and more than 170 counts of mistreatment of detained Iraqi soldiers.  Accusations include incidents of electrocution, mock executions, beatings and sexual assault.

The ICC first examined claims of abuse in 2006, but there was insufficient evidence to pursue the matter further. However, in January the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights and the law firm Public Interest Lawyers requested that ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda re-open the case because of new information. The latest update shows that the abuse was much more common, happened over a longer period of time and was more geographically widespread than originally thought.

The UK is the first western country to be under ICC scrutiny. However, the ICC will probably not launch a more formal investigation, as the allegations are now being taken care of by the Iraq Historic Allegations Team, a unit the Ministry of Defense created in 2010 to investigate issues of misconduct. The ICC may only officially investigate claims if they feel that national attempts are insufficient, but it will keep a close eye on the internal proceedings to make sure correct protocol is followed.

U.S. to Send Aid for Safe Return of Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls

Boko Haram Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls, Photo by Gullpress

Boko Haram Kidnapped Nigerian School Girls, Photo by Gullpress

NIGERIA - Three weeks ago, the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Borno State as they were about to sit for their final exams.

Boko Haram, which translates to "Western education is sinful," then set the school on fire. Since then, 53 girls have managed to escape -- though Tuesday, 6 May 2014, there was another kidnapping of 8-girls from the nearby village of Warabe.

Thus far the search for the missing girls has primarily been conducted by residents of Borno, who have been braving the dangerous Sambisa Forest as well as potentially fatal encounters with Boko Haram, all with little on-ground military support.

The military says it is using aerial surveillance to look for the girls. However, many suspect that the government is afraid to engage in a conflict with Boko Haram which is heavily armed.

After three weeks of little or no support from the Nigerian government, as well as the lack of information on the exact location and status of the kidnapped girls, citizens have begun to lose confidence in authority.

However, the girls have international support: the British government expressed concern, the UN condemned the kidnappings as acts against humanity, protests are happening worldwide, awareness has gone viral with the hashtag "#bringbackourgirls," and Nigeria has recently accepted help from the US military.

While the girls were originally kept nearby, there is belief that some have been transported to neighboring countries.  If the girls have been split up into several groups, rescue efforts could potentially take years.

Boko Haram plans to sell the girls. Additionally, some may be kept as human shields to prevent rescuers from bombing the camps they're kept at, and others may be ransomed back to their parents.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that finding the girls will be a top priority.