Archive for category AU
Kenya making progress in amending ICC rules: Reports indicate that through a formal presentation, Guatemala and Greece asked to amend Article 134 of the ICC Rules of Procedures to allow accused persons who are “mandated to fulfill important and extraordinary public duties” in their states to waive the requirement to be present at their trial. Instead, the amendment would let counsel represent the accused, who would not have to attend the trial at The Hague or follow it through video proceedings. Kenya, Japan, and South Africa all support the proposed amendment. Kenya’s second goal, to give sitting presidents immunity until their term has expired, will likely not be addressed until February at the Assembly of State Parties, even though Kenya is pushing for a special summit. Both changes would benefit Kenya, which has publicly objected to the requirement that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto be present at their trials, whether in person or through video links. (Standard Digital).
Security Council condemns LRA war crimes, calls for support: On Monday, 25 November 2013, the UN Security Council condemned the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in a presidential statement, urging the group to cease its activities, disarm, and release abductees. The Council also asked the UN Office for Central Africa, UN peacekeeping missions, and the international community to support the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy, which is meant to address the activities of the LRA. The Council also applauded the efforts of the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative and emphasized the importance of regional efforts to combat the LRA. The Security Council has repeatedly denounced the crimes against humanity and war crimes the LRA has committed in several African nations over the course of 15 years, especially the group’s use of child soldiers. (UN News Centre).
Serbian Prosecutor’s Office wants 15-year sentence for Juric: The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office demanded that Ilija Jurisic, who served as a commander during the Bosnian War, be sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly ordering a large-scale attack on former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers during their retreat from Tuzla, Bosnia, even though the withdrawal had allegedly been agreed upon previously. 51 soldiers died and 50 were wounded during this attack, a war crime for which Juric has been indicted in a domestic proceeding. Juric was already convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, which was overruled by the Appellate Court in 2010, and the current rehearing seeks to establish why the JNA had withdrawn from Tuzla and whether Juric ordered the attack on the JNA.
Mbeki says ICC should not interfere in Africa: Former South African President Thabo Mbeki criticized the ICC’s prosecution of African leaders on Talk To Al Jazeera. In his opinion, the international community should focus on building peace in Africa, instead of imposing justice from the “outside.” He mentioned the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir; intervening in the conflict is more important than prosecuting these leaders, especially when their leadership and influence could be useful in brokering peace. Justice, he explained, does not trump peace. Using his own country as an example, Mbeki stated that South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy would have been far less smooth had former South African President F.W. de Klerk, who was an integral part of ending apartheid, been brought before the ICC during the conflict. (Al Jazeera Media Network).
Africa hot topic at ICC summit: The ICC’s annual summit, the Assembly of States Parties, opened this Wednesday, 20 November 2013. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon began the event by stressing the need for all U.N. members to ratify the Rome Statute and support the ICC in its efforts to end impunity. The fact that all the ICC’s prosecutions are currently focusing on Africa, particularly the cases against Kenya’s sitting heads of state, was at the forefront of the discussions. Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed questioned the Court’s “veracity and effectiveness” and accused the Court of “ignoring” and “treating with contempt and suspicion” the country’s attempts to delay the trials for security reasons. A special session was scheduled for Thursday to discuss amendments to the ICC’s rules that would permit sitting heads of states to waive the right to be present at trial. President of the Assembly of States Parties Tina Intelmann said the session would give the Assembly the opportunity to review the rules but it was unlikely a decision would be reached. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (Washington Post, The Star).
Security Council votes against Kenyatta deferral: On 20 November 2013, the U.N. Security Council voted to dismiss an AU backed motion requesting a one year deferral of the ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The motion was two votes short of passing. Seven members of the Security Council, including China and Russia, voted in favor while eight were against. Kenyatta’s trial for crimes against humanity will begin in February 2013. (The Maravi Post).
Ruto to participate in ICC summit: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto refrain from discussing the ICC case against him at the ICC annual summit which opened on Wednesday, 20 November 2013. Bensouda “note[d] the apparent conflict of interest between Ruto’s public position as leader of the Kenyan delegation and his personal position as an accused in proceedings before the court.” The ICC previously advised Ruto to not discuss the crimes against humanity trial in the media. Bensouda asked the ICC to clarify if this pertained to the annual summit as well. (AFP).
Trial of Congolese officers for human rights offenses begins: A military trial against 39 officers began in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday, 20 November 2013. The officers have been charged for failing to control their soldiers from committing rape and other human rights violations against civilians. The offenses were committed by fleeing soldiers after a rebel group captured a city in the eastern part of the country for 10 days in November 2012. The rebel group was defeated only a couple weeks ago.
Unnamed witness called by judges testifies in Bemba trial: A witness under the pseudonym “Witness CHM-01” testified at the trial against Jean-Pierre Bemba on Monday, 18 November 2013 before the ICC. The judges, as allowed by Articles 64 and 69, had called the witness; none of the parties in the trial had called him to provide evidence, even though several witnesses from both sides had mentioned his name. The witness is testifying through a video link from an undisclosed location. It is not yet clear how the witness was involved in the MLC. Mr. Bemba is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003. (Open Society Justice Initiative).
African Court to hold conference to raise awareness: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is organizing a continental conference in order to raise awareness about the court’s activities and promote human rights in African states. The Court feels that it has been underutilized; in seven years, it has only handled 28 petitions concerning contentious matters and five requests for advisory opinions. Senior officials believe that this under-utilization is due to the fact that the individuals and entities who are allowed to bring petitions before the Court are largely unaware of its existence. The conference will be attended by the president and judges of the court, representatives from international organizations, and Professor Makame Mbarawa, the Tanzanian Minister of Communication, Science and Technology. (Tanzania Daily News).
Leaders urge Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes following summit: During the Commonwealth Summit, which was held in Sri Lanka over the course of three days, several human rights groups appealed to world leaders to pressure Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate war crimes that allegedly took place during and after the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was in attendance, stated that it would be possible for Sri Lanka to set up a war crimes tribunal before March, to which President Rajapaksa responded that Sri Lanka had started investigations, but that this process will take longer than a few months. He had previously stated that his troops did not commit war crimes during the conflict, which lasted 26 years. Secretary Hague’s comments followed UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s condemnation of the alleged war crimes, and his warning of a UN-led investigation should Sri Lanka fail to launch an independent inquiry. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (Voice of America, BBC).
Nine AU states may be barred from voting on Rome Statute amendments: The ICC announced that nine out of its 122 members are in arrears and will therefore be unable to vote in this week’s Assembly of State Parties meeting in The Hague. Though the list of states has not been officially released, Tanzania, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Gabon, Djibouti, Comoros, Guinea, and Liberia are all indebted to the Court and may lose their voting rights. These votes may be necessary to amend the ICC rules of procedure laid out in the Rome Statute, an effort Kenya is leading in order to excuse President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto from attendance at their trials, to amend Article 27 to grant sitting heads of governments immunity, and to amend Article 70 so that court officials can be charged with offenses against administration of justice and the powers of the Independent Oversight Mechanism may be expanded. If all 122 members attend the meeting, Kenya needs 81 members to support its proposals. (The Star).
Botswanan judge appointed to Sierra Leone court: On 16 October 2013, the Botswanan Administration of Justice announced that Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, appointed the Hon. Justice Dr. O.B.K. Dingake as a judge on the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is continuing the mandate of the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Justice Dingake is a jurist and scholar, and will sit on the Court as required by the president of the Court. (Government of Botswana).
Security Council to vote on deferral of Kenyatta trial: The fifteen member states of the U.N. Security Council will vote on a resolution this Friday, 15 November 2013, calling for a one year suspension of the ICC trials against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. The AU backed resolution will need the support of at least nine member states in order to pass. Experts have predicted, however, that the resolution will fail since seven members are currently signatories of the ICC. (Global Post).
French court decides to extradite Rwandans: A French appeals court ruled this week that two genocide suspects could be extradited to Rwanda. The country has previously denied extraditions because of concerns suspects will be denied fair trial rights. However, French Judge Jean Bertholin assured Claude Muhayimana and Innocent Musabyimana that if the extradition was approved by a higher court, the two would “be guaranteed a fair trial” in Rwanda. Muhayimana and Musabyimana are accused of participating in mass killings of ethnic Tutsis during the 1994 genocide that claimed around 800,000 lives. (Global Post).
Kenyatta seeks public testimony of prosecution witnesses: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the ICC to deny granting protective measures of prosecution witnesses. Kenyatta argued suppressing identities and granting immunity from self-incrimination “constitutes an incentive for witnesses to lie and put forward false claims.” Kenyatta stated any measures violated his right to a fair and public trial. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda earlier requested protective measures for ten of the fifteen witnesses expected to testify against the President. (The Star).
Habre proceedings to be aired in Senegal and Chad: The trial of the former dictator of Chad, President Hissene Habre, will be broadcasted on television and radio in Senegal and Chad. Senegalese Justice Minister Sidiki Kaba announced the two countries were in the process of “work[ing] out which media outlets . . . will be given responsibility for the transmission.” Habre is being tried by a special court in Senegal for crimes against humanity and war crimes related to his 1982-1990 rule. (Global Post).
Security Council split on ICC deferral: The U.N. Security Council is split over whether to delay the ICC cases against Kenya’s sitting heads of state. Last week, the 15 state parties met to discuss an AU backed resolution calling for a deferral to allow President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto time to fulfill their executive duties at home. Experts opposed to the resolution argue a postponement may defer justice for victims. The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote this week on whether to approve the deferral. (All Africa).
Ivory Coast party seeks release of former President: The Ivorian Popular Front has officially requested the ICC release former President Laurent Gbagbo from custody. The opposition political party claims Gbagbo is being illegally detained after the ICC failed to present sufficient evidence of wrongdoing. The party’s organizer demanded the former President return to the Ivory Coast to “reconcile the people.” For the past two years, Gbagbo has been held in The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity for his participation in the 2010 post-election violence. (All Africa).
Kenya attacks planned after 2007 election, says ICC witness: A prosecution witness testified last week that members of the Orange Democratic Movement, a political party supported by ICC indictee William Ruto, planned attacks against the rival Party of National Unity. The protected witness told judges members of the Orange Democratic Movement stocked bows, arrows and rocks “with the objective of forcibly expelling” people of a differing ethnic group from their communities once the 2007 presidential election results were announced. Ruto, alongside co-accused Joshua arap Sang, is charged with inciting and ordering attacks that killed and displaced thousands of civilians after the party he supported was defeated in the election. (All Africa).
ICC judges call witness for Bemba trial: A judge ordered witness is expected to testify in the trial of Jean Pierre Bemba at the ICC on 18 November 2013. The evidence to be presented by the witness has not been disclosed, however, the individual has been “repeatedly mentioned” by other participants during the proceedings. The witness will first be examined by the judges. The prosecution, victim representatives and defense will then each have an opportunity to question the witness on relevant issues, as well as evidence that concerns credibility and mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The former Vice President of the DRC is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes. (All Africa).
Chilean granted justice at international court: An 80 year old Chilean who was severely tortured after the Pinochet regime took power in 1973 was granted a huge victory from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights this week. The Court ruled the Chile government must investigate the abuses toward Leopoldo Garcia and find those responsible for compensation. Garcia was detained after a 1973 coup and tortured into divulging names of suspected Socialists. Garcia was eventually transferred to London where he has lived for 40 years. However, Garcia has struggled throughout his life to find work and provide for his family in a foreign country. He believes Chili should “assume responsibility” for what happened to him by the Pinochet regime.
Delay of Rios Montt trial angers victims: Victims of genocide and crimes against humanity during Guatemalan President General Efrain Rios Montt’s 1982-83 rule are frustrated by the decision to delay his retrial. Amnesty International reports Mayan-Ixil indigenous people feel “let down” and worry the former President will evade justice. Rios Montt’s guilty conviction by a Guatemalan criminal court was overturned shortly after by the country’s highest court. The retrial is expected January 2015.
Serbian war crimes prosecutor charges two former Serbian army officers: Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutors have charged two Yugoslav army leaders of war crimes. Parole Gavrilovic and Rajko Kozlina are accused of ordering an attack on a civilian village during the 1998-99 Serbian War that killed at least 27 Kosovar. A Serbian investigating judge will decide whether to indict and arrest the two leaders.
Habre appeal denied by international court: On 5 November 2013, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States held the Extraordinary African Chambers was satisfactorily established to try the former Chadian President Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Habre filed a motion on 23 April 2013, challenging the legitimacy of the Extraordinary African Chambers to try him for crimes committed during his rule from 1982 to 1990. The Court found the Chambers consisted of a “special ad hoc procedure of international character” capable of holding Habre’s trial. Victims of his rule have called the Court’s decision “a huge relief.”
Kenyatta deferral gets more support: Another African country is now publicly supporting the postponement of the ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. On 5 November 2013, Jean Kimani, Kenya’s High Commissioner, stated Botswana was of the position the Kenyatta trial should not only be deferred, but also held locally. Kimani clarified that Botswana’s support for Kenya’s President did not interfere with the country’s commitment to the Rome Statute and the ICC.
Gaddafi’s son speaks from prison: Seif al-Islam, the son of former Libyan dictator Muanmar Gaddafi, answered three prepared questions from a journalist on 5 November 2013. Sitting behind bars in a Zintan prison outside the Tripoli capital, Seif al-Islam told the journalist he was well and permitted visitors. Seif was captured in November 2011 by ex-rebel forces. He is also wanted by the ICC and was charged by a Tripoli court.
Nigeria seeks change at ICC: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon assured the international community on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, that his country would continue supporting the ICC. However, Jonathon urged the Court to defer the pending case against Kenya’s sitting head of state. Jonathon argued Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta needed to remain in Africa to fulfill his executive duties during the country’s period of instability.
China supports delay of Kenyatta case at ICC: China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, urged the ICC on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, to postpone the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for at least a year. China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi argued the dignity of Kenyatta must “be fully protected and respected” and that the Kenyan leader needed time to “concentrate on discharging [his] constitutional duties.” Kenyatta is on trial for crimes against humanity. The ICC case against him was previously suspended from November to 5 February 2014. (Eurasia Review).
30 killed in Nigerian attack; Islamist militants blamed: Members of an Islamist militant group responsible for a deadly attack on a wedding party in Nigeria this past Saturday, 2 November 2013, could face charges of crimes against humanity, said U.N. Human Rights Office Spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly. Pouilly reported the Nigerian government established a panel to investigate and report on alleged human rights abuses being committed in the country. Since 2009, thousands of Nigerians have been killed or displaced in the militant group’s fight to overthrow the government and replace it with a Islamist regime. (Voice of America).
International reports focus on U.S. drone strikes: Recent reports by U.N. special rapporteurs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have examined whether the U.S.’s use of drone strikes complies with international humanitarian law. Amnesty International noted that lethal force outside armed conflict is legal only when proportionately used to protect life. The NGO stressed attacks must be targeted against militants and not harm civilians. Amnesty International’s report considered the drone strikes by the U.S. in Pakistan likely “constitute[d] extrajudicial executions” and were in violation of international law. Similarly, Human Rights Watch concluded certain U.S. drone strikes in Yemen “may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target.” (The Guardian).
Thailand and Cambodia prepare for ICJ verdict: The ICJ’s expected 11 November 2013, ruling on the ownership of the Hindu temple located near the border of Thailand and Cambodia has many security officials worried. It is feared internal political disputes between either country’s government and opposition forces may “create a situation for misunderstanding” and “ignite a [border] conflict.” The Thai and Cambodian Foreign Ministers met last week to discuss military restraint and stability along the border. (The Nation).
UN address ICC issues, including Kenya deferral and Sudan’s outstanding warrants: On Thursday, 31 October 2013, ICC President Sang-Hyung Song updated the UNGA on the workings of the Court, including the Kenya, Libya, Sudan and Ivory Coast cases. He asked all ICC stakeholders to uphold the integrity of the Rome Statute, and particularly highlighted the support needed from the UN to address the outstanding warrants in Sudan against the four individuals charged with committing genocide in Darfur. In a separate meeting, the UNSC representatives from Kenya and the AU were addressing the ICC concerning the possibility of deferring the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for one year. Under Article 16 of the Rome Statute, a prosecution can be deferred for up to 12 months by a resolution of the UNSC under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (The Star, UPI).
Serbia to receive positive report from ICTY: Rasim Ljajic, the president of the National Council for the ICTY Cooperation, will mention Serbia’s cooperation with the ICTY in a report he will deliver to the UN in December, specifically referring to Serbia promptly delivering documents and allowing access to witnesses and archives. Ljajic met with ICTY prosecutor Serge Brammertz on Monday, 4 November 2013, and he met with Serbian prime minister Ivica Dacic and the chief Serbian prosecutor Vladimir Vucicevic on Tuesday, 5 November 2013. Ljajic and Brammertz discussed placing individuals sentenced by the ICTY into Serbian prisons, a possibility the Tribunal had previously declined. (World Bulletin).
Witness testifies that Karadzic was a weak leader: Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s trial resumed this week, with Karadzic’s former aide Jovan Zametica testifying that Karadzic had not had effective control over his army. Zametica joined the Republika Srpska (RS) in 1993 and became an advisor to Karazdic in 1994. He testified that Karadzic had been a weak leader of the RS; his army had apparently been disobedient, he had allowed local chieftains to make important decisions, and he had simply been a representative leader to the international community. He also asserted that Karadzic had been tolerant of non-Serbs, as shown by the fact that Zametica is a Muslim. Karadzic is charged with genocide before the ICTY. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).
ICTR will help Rwanda with transferred genocide cases: The ICTR has promised to help the Rwandan National Prosecution Authority with the genocide cases the ICTR has transferred to Rwanda. ICTR prosecutor general Hassan Bubacar Jallow explained that although the work of the ICTR is winding down, it will continue to support the Rwandan prosecution to ensure that the cases are handled successfully and that the genocide suspects, many of whom have fled to France, are caught and prosecuted. Jallow, ICTR President Judge Vagn Joensen, and several senior officials from the ICTR are currently in Rwanda and will meet with the supreme court judges and Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye to review ICTR procedures. (Rwanda Focus).
MICT is tracking “big fish” wanted for Darfur genocide: Jallow announced on Monday, 4 November 2013 that three of the most wanted suspects for the genocide in Darfur will likely be caught soon, because the Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) was able to obtain information that could lead to their arrest. The three fugitives are Felicien Kabuga, who allegedly financed the genocide, Protais Mpiranya, the former Presidential Guards commandant, and Augustin Bizimana, the former defense minister. Referred to as “big fish”, their cases would be handled by the MICT, as opposed to being transferred to Rwanda. (The New Times).
STL fines defense in Hariri case: Earlier this week, the STL fined defense lawyers for making “frivolous” appeals in order to delay the start date of the trial concerning the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. The defense appealed the appointment of Judge Janet Nosworthy, who replaced the former president of the trial chamber upon his resignation in September, which was deemed a “frivolous” delay tactic by the Court. The defense also asserted that it needs more time to prepare for trial due to the high volume of evidence in the case, and that Lebanon was not cooperating in assisting the defense’s investigations. The Court did not reveal how much the defense was fined. (The Daily Star).
British MPs call executions in Iran crimes against humanity: British MPs have declared that the execution of 16 political prisoners on 4 October 2013 in Zahedan, Iran is a crime against humanity, and are calling on the UN to investigate these events. The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom stated that Mohammad Marzieh, the prosecutor general of Zahedan, had confirmed that the prisoners had been executed because they had killed revolutionary guards in Saravan. The committee also noted, however, that Hedayatollah Mir-Moradzehi, Saravan’s representative in the Iranian Parliament, stated that it was still unclear who had killed the revolutionary guards. The committee recommended that the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council review the events. (Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran).
ECCC defendants maintain not-guilty at closing arguments: On 31 October 2013, the two surviving former leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge asked to be acquitted as closing arguments were made at the ECCC. Nuon Chea and Khieu were initially charged with crimes against humanity. It is expected that a verdict will be delivered in the first half of 2014. (UN News).
In absentia death sentences for two ICT-Bangladesh defendants: On 3 November 2013, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan were found guilty of carrying out episodes of torture and murder during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. Defense lawyers are calling the trial a farce while veterans of the war were said to be cheering the decision. (Reuters).
Kenya ICC trial delayed; encouraged by UN African members: Rwanda, Togo and Morocco circulated a draft resolution among UN Security Council members this last Friday asking to defer the ICC trials of President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto for one year. The Security Council has the ability to defer ICC proceedings for one year under Article 16 of the Rome Statute. (For more information on this topic, please click here, here.) (Reuters, CNN).
Prosecution seeks life in prison for Cambodian accused: ECCC prosecutors in closing arguments this week sought life imprisonment for two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial of the co-accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, was previously divided into small portions for procedural efficiency. This particular part concerns the culpability of the two leaders during the capital’s April 1975 evacuation in which many civilians were forced to work in harsh conditions or killed. (VOA Cambodia).
Kenyatta trial approaches; AU pushing hard for postponement: The AU has continued in its efforts this week to defer the impending ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Expected to begin on 12 November 2013, the AU raised concerns over security and bad precedent as reasons to postpone the trial for at least one year. International scholars have argued the AU response is fear of “set[ting] precedents in which there is a possibility of heads of state from Africa, in future, begin dragged into the court.” Just last week, the ICC held Kenyatta could be absent from all proceedings in The Hague except for opening and closing statements. (VOA News).
Kenyatta not troubled by ICC case: While delivering a speech during Mashujaa Day celebrations this weekend, President Uhuru Kenyatta assured Kenyans the ICC would acquit him of crimes against humanity once the truth was uncovered. The sitting President also guaranteed that he would continue to fulfill his executive duties if required to appear before the Court in The Hague. Kenyatta and the AU are currently attempting to prevent or postpone the ICC trial. (All Africa).