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France

French press review 28 October 2016

media

A glimpse of the horror and hardships of life under the rule of the Islamic State (IS) armed group in the city of Mosul. What has caused a 60 percent decline in the number of the world's vertebrates since 1970? And just how serious is the challenge facing the International Crimlnal Court as Gambia becomes the latest African nation to announce its intention to leave?

Le Figaro's top story offers a glimpse of life under the Islamic State armed group, as related by some of those who have escaped from the besieged Iraqi city of Mosul.

The conservative daily describes the situation as one of bloody paranoia, under which all those who refuse absolute allegiance to the jihadist terrorists are regarded as enemies.

Those who have escaped from Mosul risked fire, mines, bullets and bombs in order to get away. Those interviewed by Le Figaro say they felt they had no choice, since they faced certain death had they remained.

Those who remain in the predominantly Sunni-Muslim city are caught between fear of the Islamist fighters who are struggling to defend the capital of the caliphate declared by Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2014 and the dangers posed by the Shia militia who are trying to retake control of Mosul.

Soya and the decline in global vertebrate numbers

All of this morning's French papers look at the tragic report by the World Wildlife Fund which shows that the global population of vertebrates has declined by 58 percent since 1970.

The main reasons for this huge decline is the destruction of the creatures' natural habitats by farmers, uncontrolled exploitation of forests and water polution. All of these add to the difficulties many species are facing because of global warming.

The World Wildlife Fund says humanity could reverse the trend simply by consuming less meat and other animal products. This is because of the problems provoked by the soya industry, currently destroying millions of acres of habitat to grow the cereal predominantly used to feed the world's cattle.

Gambia joins the queue to leave the International Criminal Court

Le Monde's editorial is devoted to what the centrist daily calls "a deep crisis" at the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

First Burundi, then South Africa, now Gambia, have announced their intention to renounce their ratification of the Rome Statutes (the court's founding document and charter) and quit the ICC.

If Burundi has clearly reacted to the court's decision to investigate allegations of abuses by the Nkurunziza regime and South Africa has worries about diplomatic immunity, the decision by Gambia comes as a real shock, not least since it's the home nation of the ICC's chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, and that Gambia has a relatively clean human rights record.

The decision to leave has been explained by the authorities in Banjul as a reaction to the court's excessive focus on the alleged misdeeds of African leaders, while Western war criminals and human rights abusers go, not simply unpunished, they don't even appear on the ICC radar.

Le Monde reminds us that nine of the 10 cases currently before the ICC concern African leaders. The Gambian president Yahya Jammeh asked for the court to investigate European complicity in the deaths of record numbers of would-be African migrants in the Mediterranean. He got no answer.

The Kenyan parliament is due to debate departure from the ICC, having seen President Uhuru Kenyata and his deputy, William Ruto, dragged through lengthy procedures only to be freed for lack of evidence.

Victim of own rules

The centrist daily says the court is the victim of its own statutary limitations. It can pursue alleged crimes only if the country where they said to have been perpetrated is a court member.

That lets Russia, China, the USA, Israel and the vast majority of the Gulf states off the hook. Nothing can be done, for example, about the crying human rights abuses being committed every day in Syria because, even if the UN Security Council called for an ICC investigation, which it can do, even for a non-member state, Damascus could count of the protective veto of Russia and China. There'll be no investigation of Aleppo, in other words.

As the case involving Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has repeatedly shown, the ICC does not have the means to enforce its pronouncements. Bashir is suspected of complicity in terrible crimes committed in Darfour but it is unlikely that he will ever stand in the dock in the Hague.

The best Le Monde can say for the ICC is that it remains symbolically important, a reminder to despots and dictators that they might some day have to answer for the crimes of those who work to keep them in power. And the paper also points out that it took three decades for the European Court of Human Rights to earn its current level of credibility and respect.

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