Archive for category AU
Ruto’s lawyers seek trial postponement: On 26 April 2013, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto’s lawyer, Karim Khan, asked the ICC to postpone Ruto’s trial until at least November so the defense can prepare properly. Ruto’s case has already been delayed once to give the defense adequate time to prepare; Ruto is set to go on trial on 28 May. Khan stated that the prosecution has delayed transferring crucial information to the defense. Ruto is charged with three counts of crimes against humanity for his role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Last week Ruto requested the ICC waive his right to be present at trial; this week the lawyers for the victims of the post-election violence opposed that request. (To read more on this topic, click here.)
HRW calls on Chad to arrest Sudanese Defense Minister: On 25 April 2013, Human Rights Watch called on the government of Chad to arrest Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohammed Hussein, who is attending a conference in the country and is wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is the first time Hussein has visited a state party to the Rome Statute since being charged by the ICC in March 2012. Hussein served as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s interior minister during the height of the conflict in Darfur in 2004; former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo stated that Hussein is among those who “bear greatest criminal responsibility” for the atrocities committed in Sudan. Although as a state party Chad has the obligation to arrest any suspects, Chad has repeatedly allowed Bashir to visit. While the AU has urged member states not to cooperate with the ICC in arresting Bashir, Chad and other state parties to the Rome statute have received pressure from hundreds of human rights groups, law societies, and the European Union to execute ICC arrest warrants.
Death of Khmer Rouge leader worries victims: On 25 April 2013, victims of the 1970s Cambodian atrocities commented that they worried that justice will not be served on the two Khmer Rouge leaders on trial. Last month Ieng Sary, a former leader of Khmer Rouge, died in the midst of trial. Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the former Khmer Rouge leaders on trial, are both aging and the trial is progressing slowly. The Khmer Rouge Tribunal, which was founded in 2006, has only convicted one person in relation to the atrocities that killed approximately 2-million Cambodians.
EU lifts Myanmar sanctions: On 22 April 2013, the EU agreed to lift all sanctions against Myanmar except for an arms embargo. The move by the EU may pressure the United States, which suspended most sanctions against Myanmar last year, to permanently lift sanctions. However, Human Rights Watch and other human rights activists have expressed concern over ongoing human rights abuses. An HRW report accuses the Myanmar government of crimes against humanity relating to the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims last year.
Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto selects lead counsel for ICC trial: On 23 April 2013, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto, whose ICC trial begins next month, selected Kamir Khan to be his lead counsel. Khan successfully represented Kenyan Francis Muthaura, whose charges were recently dropped by the ICC. Ruto also filed an application to waive his right to be present at all trial hearings; Khan argued the Rome Statute does not require a suspect to be present during court proceedings.
ICC President of Assembly of States Parties participates in events in Ethiopia and The Hague: On 19 April 2013, ICC President of the Assembly of States Parties Tiina Intelmann returned to The Hague after a four-day tour through Ethiopia. Upon her return, Intelmann participated in a meeting to assure that top judiciary candidates are appointed to the ICC. In Ethiopia Intelmann met with the Chairperson of the AU Commission to discuss the capabilities of the ICC to address gender based crimes and she meet with representatives of African state parties to the ICC. Intelmann also participated in a seminar focused on the ICC and complementarity; she said the long-term focus of the ICC is to prevent crimes and strengthening the rule of law.
Ntaganda’s trial raises DRC nationality question: On 26 March 2013, Bosco Ntaganda, a DRC warlord currently facing charges before the ICC, addressed the charges against him at the ICC. Ntaganda stated that he was born in Rwanda, but is a Congolese citizen; Ntaganda, however, stated that he prefers to speak in Kinyarwanda, a language connected to ethnic Tutsis and foreign to the DRC. This statement in front of the ICC began a debate in the DRC on what it takes to be “Congolese.” There is some controversy if Ntaganda is considered to be a Rwandan citizen as Rwanda is not a state party to the ICC. The ICC, however, released a statement that Ntaganda confirms he is a DRC citizen and the crimes he is accused of committing were in the DRC, which is a state party—so there is no issue of jurisdiction.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, CAR, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Ivory Coast, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on April 6, 2013
Three more witnesses refuse to testify against Kenyatta: On 5 April 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda revealed that three more prosecution witnesses have refused to testify against Kenyan President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. Bensouda has blamed the multiple witnesses refusing to testify on harassment and threats. The trial of Kenyatta, who is charged with crimes against humanity revolving around 2007-2008 post-election violence, is set to begin on July 11. It is unclear at this time how this will affect Kenyatta’s case going forth; some parties have called for the case to be sent back to the Pre-Trial Hearing to determine if there is enough evidence against Kenyatta to take the case to trial.
Krstic pleads not guilty at ICTY: On 4 April 2013, former Bosnian Serb Army officer Radislav Krstic plead not guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify in the ICTY case against Radovan Karadzic. Krstic has declared that he won’t testify on behalf of Karadzic because of poor health. However, after investigation, the ICTY chamber stated that Krstic is mentally and physically fit to testify. In 2004 the ICTY sentenced Krstic to 35-years imprisonment for aiding and abetting genocide at Srbrenica in 1995.
Panama to face charges before Inter-American Court of Human Rights: On 26 February 2013, the IACHR began a case against Panama at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for alleged human rights abuses. Panama is accused of failing to meet its obligation to provide its indigenous peoples with “an adequate and effective procedure for access to their ancestral territory.” Further, the IACHR claims that Panama did not respond to interference by third parties in indigenous territories, amounting to discrimination. Panama’s case was referred to the Court because Panama had refused to comply with recommendations put forth by the IACHR.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights “strongly condemns” military takeover in CAR: On 4 April 2013, the ACHPR released a statement criticizing the military takeover in the Central African Republic. The statement indicated that the lives lost in the takeover were a serious violation of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter and that perpetrators of pillaging and armed violence should be brought before competent courts. The statement further said that the CAR military in charge must still meet its regional and international human rights commitments. Finally, the commission called on the international community, in particular the AU and Economic Community of Central African States, to take necessary steps to restore CAR to constitutional order.
HRW report criticizes Ivory Coast for biased implementation of justice: On 4 April 2013, Human Rights Watch released a report criticizing Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara for unevenly administering justice relating to 2010 post-election violence. The 2010 violence occurred when former President Laurent Gbago, who is currently facing war crimes charges before the ICC, refused to step down after losing the election, more than 3000 people were killed. Although Ouattara’s administration admits that his supporters committed human rights violations, none have been charged with crimes while the government has charged more than 150 Gbago supporters of crimes. The HRW report raises concern that such uneven administration of justice may have great negative impacts long-term. On a different note, on 4 April the Ivory Coast began an exhumation of the victims of the 2010 violence. The Justice Minister Genenema Coulibaly said that the exhumations will allow families to grieve and the country to hold transparent and fair trials. (For more on the topic, please click here.)
East African citizens call for expansion of EACJ jurisdiction: On 5 April 2013, Justice Johnson Busingye, the Principle Judge of the East African Court of Justice, declared that East African citizens have the right to work for an extension of the jurisdiction of the EACJ. East Africans have called for the EACJ—which has jurisdiction over matters of interpretation and applications of treaties, employment disputes, and commercial arbitration—to extend its jurisdiction to handle war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide cases. Busingye mentioned that some East Africans do not support the ICC because of conceptions that it is only targeting Africans; he declared that focusing on empowering regional courts might eliminate anxiety around the ICC.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal receives loan from international side of tribunal: On 5 April 2013, the international side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal loaned $2-million to the Cambodia side of the tribunal so the court can continue its operations. The loan is a temporary fix that will keep more court staff from boycotting work. The tribunal’s money crisis occurs as the tribunal is trying two former Khmer Rouge Leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the court’s second case since its inception in 2006. International donors have been reluctant to fund the court due to allegations of mismanagement and corruption.
US and Uganda suspend hunt for Joseph Kony: On 3 April 2013, United States and Ugandan officials announced the temporary suspension of their joint hunt for suspected war criminal Joseph Kony, due to violence and political upheaval in the Central African Republic. The recent violence, which forced CAR President Francois Bozize to flee the country where Kony is believed to be hiding. Although the CAR rebel groups are not affiliated with Kony or his Lord’s Resistance Army, they have refused to cooeprate with the Ugandan military in their quest to bring justice to the man believed to be responsible for the abduction and employment of child soldiers. The United States has 40 troops in CAR to train and advise the primarily Ugandan forces looking for Kony, and neither country is planning on withdrawing them unless the political situation is unresolvable.
The suspension of the search overshadows yesterday’s announcement by US Secretary of State John Kerry of “up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of the top three leaders of the LRA: Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen. All three are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity.” (For more information, click here.)
Kenya: Victims call for accelerated proceedings against President-elect Kenyatta due to witness intimidation: On 4 April 2013, counsel for the victims of the post-election violence of 2007 Fergal Gaynor asked the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to accelerate President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta’s trial, rather than referring the case to the Pre-Trial Chamber. Gaynor characterized defense counsel’s seeking of confirmation of charges as a frivolous delay tactic. In the companion case against Ruto Sang, counselor for the victims Wilfred Nderitu announced his opposition Kenyatta standing trial in absentia.
US and European ambassadors to attend Kenyatta inauguration: On 4 April 2013, it was announced that, despite warnings of consequences to Kenya for allowing and assisting the alleged perpetrator of crimes against humanity to take office, western countries are planning to send diplomats to the inaugeration of Uhuru Kenyatta. Despite its apparent departure from international norms, Kenya remains of high strategic value to the west, which fears that alienating the country would push it closer to countries such as India and China.
President of Malawi announces ICJ case in dispute with Tanzania: On 3 April 2013, Malawian President Joyce Banda announced that Malawi will file suit in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that the African Forum of Former Heads of States unfairly favored Tanzania by sharing Malawian documents with Tanzania prior to submission. The two countries are disputing whether oil and gas deposits under Lake Malawi are Malawian or Tanzanian territory.
President of Egypt travels to Sudan in efforts to strengthen relations: On 4 April 2013, President of Egypt Mohammed Morsi began a two-day visit to Sudan to meet with the country’s president Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of genocide. Despite an arrest warrant that has stood since 2009, al Bashir has traveled throughout the region, including Egypt. The two countries, which currently claim most of the Nile River, are strategic allies against upstream countries who seek to renegotiate territory agreements.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Admissibility / Primacy, amnesty, AU, CAR, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTR, ICTY, immunity, Investigations, jurisdiction, Liberia, Libya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Rome Statute, South Sudan, Sudan, Truth Commissions, Uganda, Victims, War Crimes on April 4, 2013
Libya seeks to try Senussi: On 3 April 2013, the ICC published Libya’s Admissibility Challenge against Abdullah Al-Senussi pursuant Article 19 of the Rome Statute. The Admissibility Challenge requested that the Court find Libya able and willing to try Al-Senussi in Libya, and as a result of filing the Admissibility Challenge asked that the Court’s outstanding Request for Arrest and Surrender of Al-Senussi be postponed pursuant to Article 95 of the Rome Statute. The ICC indicted Al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s former spy chief, in June 2011 for crimes against humanity. Al-Senussi is currently jailed in Libya after he was extradited from Mauritania to Libya in September 2012. The Libyan government has said that trying Al-Senussi is an important part of building a democratic Libya based on the rule of law. Al-Senussi’s defense lawyer, however, doubts Libya’s ability to provide a fair trial and may result in the death penalty—which the ICC does not condone. Libya’s Article 19 Admissibility Challenge against AL-Senussi follows Libya’s Admissibility Challenge against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi which was filed on 1 May 2012 with continuing proceedings on admissibility to date. A decision on the Admissibility Challenge against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi is expected soon.
United States announces $5-million bounty for Kony: On 3 April 2013, the Obama administration announced a five-million dollar bounty for Joseph Kony, leader of the Uganda rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army, and his top aides. There is an ICC arrest warrant out for Kony for crimes against humanity. Previously the United States had only issued rewards for war crimes suspects wanted by the ICTR and ICTY, this is the first reward offered for suspects wanted by the ICC. Kony, who is accused of ordering widespread atrocities in Uganda since the 1980s, is suspected to be in hiding in the Central African Republic.
United States N.G.O. calls for war crimes investigation into Sudan: On 3 April 2013, a United States based advocacy grouped released a report alleging that Sudan has committed war crimes since 2011 in southern Sudan. The report details testimony and photographic evidence of the burning of farm and grazing land and the destruction of 42 villages and calls for an international criminal investigation. On 2 April, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda renewed her call for the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir and other suspects wanted by the ICC. Bensouda made the statement at a ceremony marking the beginning of genocide awareness month; Bashir has outstanding ICC warrants for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. On 1 April, President Bashir announced that the government would release political prisoners; a welcome announcement to human rights advocates, but one met with skepticism. (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here
France announces first trial of a Rwandan for genocide: On April 2 2013, a French court, for the first time, ordered a Rwandan to be tried in national courts for genocide. Pascal Simbikangwa, a former Rwandan army captain who was arrested in France in 2008, is facing charges of complicity in genocide and crimes against humanity. In 2010, France established a court to try genocide and crimes against humanity involving suspects detained in France. France has been unwilling to extradite genocide suspects to Rwanda out of concern for fair trials, but has sent some suspects to the ICTR in Tanzania. The spokesperson for Rwanda’s national prosecution authority praised France’s decision to try genocide suspects.
Slovakia to hold a new trial for 98 year old Hungarian Nazi: On April 2 2013, a Slovak court declared that they will seek the extradition of 98-year old war criminal, Laszlo Csatary, to Slovakia so he can be tried for crimes against humanity. Csatary was convicted in absentia of war crimes in 1948 and was sentenced to death. In order to facilitate with extradition request with Hungary and to comply with current Slovakian law, Slovakia confirmed that it would seek life imprisonment. Between 1941 and 1944, Csatary tortured Jews and sent 16,000 to death camps.
Charles Taylor comments on the death of Moses Blah: On April 2 2013, former Liberian President Charles Taylor commented on the death of Moses Blah, the man who succeeded Taylor. Taylor said he forgave Blah for testifying against him at the ICC where Taylor was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Blah had been Vice President under Taylor’s regime and testified to Taylor’s interactions with child soldiers. Taylor said Blah was a victim of an international conspiracy.
Nepal Supreme Court blocks probe into civil war crimes: On 2 April 2013, the Nepalese Supreme Court blocked a new law that would establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe war crimes committed during Nepal’s ten year civil war. Judge Shushila Karki issued an interim order against the law out of concerns that the commission could allow amnesties for serious human rights violations. More than 17,000 citizens died during the civil war between Maoist rebels and the state.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, CAR, Crimes against Humanity, DRC, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Kenya, Libya, News about the Courts, Rome Statute, Rwanda, South Sudan, Torture, Uganda, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 27, 2013
ICTY sentences Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin: On 27 March 2013, the ICTY sentenced Mićo Stanišić, former Minister of the Interior of Republika Srpska, and Stojan Župljanin, former chief of regional security forces, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The men were each sentenced to 22 years in prison for the crimes committed across 20 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since its creation in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 persons and concluded proceeding for 136.
ICC Appeals Chamber confirms trial chamber’s modification of charges against Katanga: On 27 March 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber ruled that the trial chamber’s modification in charges against Germain Katanga was allowed. The ICC has charged Katanga with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes in relation to attacks in the DRC. During Katanga’s proceedings, the prosecution re-characterized Katanga’s responsibility from ‘committing crimes through another person’ (Rome Statute Article 25(3)(a)) to ‘contributing in any way to the commission of crimes by a group of persons’ (Article 25(3)(d)). The Appeals Chamber held that the modification does not violate Katanga’s right to a fair trial.
DRC’s Ntaganda makes first appearance before ICC: On 26 March 2013, DRC rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda made his first appearance before the ICC. Ntaganda faces ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder, and using child soldiers. After having his charges translated to him, Ntaganda said he was not guilty of the crimes, however the judge cut him off, telling Ntaganda that he did not need to plead at this hearing. Human Rights Watch praised Ntaganda’s appearance in court, but stated that now the ICC must go after senior officials who act complicitly in the atrocities in Congo. The judge announced that Ntaganda’s pre-trial hearing, where the prosecution will provide their evidence against Ntaganda, would begin 23 September. (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here.
Zimbabwe found guilty of torture by African human rights court: On 25 March 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights released their ruling that the Zimbabwe government was responsible for the torturing of human rights lawyer, Gabriel Shumba, in 2003. The government of Zimbabwe now has 90 days to act on the decision by launching an investigation. The decision has been praised as a setting precedent against impunity. For many countries, including Zimbabwe, the Commission is the last human rights court that citizens can turn to when their own justice systems fail to protect. The commission also made rulings in regards to Zimbabwe’s failure to protect citizens from extra judicial killings and providing compensation in cases of wrongful killings.
Search for Kony continues after coup in CAR: On 26 March 2013, organizations involved in the search for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, said the search would not be interrupted by the coup in the Central African Republic. The search is under the auspice of the African Union and soldiers from Uganda, DRC, South Sudan, and CAR are all assisting. Kony and other LRA leaders are wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kenyan witness accuses ICC of threats: On 23 Saturday 2013, former witness number 8 of the Kenyan ICC trials released a statement accusing the ICC of threatening him after he signed affidavits removing himself as a witness last week. The witness says that ICC officials have harassed him and demanded that he recant his affidavits. Further, the witness claims that the ICC prosecution has falsely attributed evidence to him. The prosecution has not responded to the allegations, which were published in a Nairobi news source.
Organization of American States strengthens Inter-American System of Human Rights: On 22 March 2013, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights. Features of the resolution include strengthening rapporteurships and urging all OAS member states (including the United States, Canada, and several others) to ratify or accede to all Inter-American human rights instruments, including accepting jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The United States released a press statement praising the steps taken to strengthen the Inter-American Human Rights System. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Egypt and Libya sign agreement guaranteeing fair trials for extradited defendants: On 23 March 2013, the justice ministers for Egypt and Libya signed a legal and judicial memorandum guaranteeing fair trials for extradited defendants. The defendant protections include trials before ordinary courts according to international standards, detention on legal premises, and a right to defense during investigation and trial. On 26 March 2013, Egypt arrested and extradited three former Libyan-regime leaders including the ex-Libyan ambassador to Egypt, Ali Maria.
Posted by kchin2014 in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Responsibility to Protect, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syria, Torture, Truth Commissions, UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 26, 2013
UN to investigate growing North Korean prison camps: On 26 March 2013, South Korean legislator Ha Tae-kyoung announced that he learned from an official at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the UN is planning to launch an investigation into the growing number of North Korean prison camps. The investigation will employ satellite imaging technology provided by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research’s Satellite Applications Program (UNOSAT), along with witness testimony.
US official warns of US-led war crimes inquiry into Sri Lanka: On 25 March 2013, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake indicated that, if the Sri Lankan government continues to shirk its responsibility to lead an “independent and credible” inquiry into the allegations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military against ethnic Tamil civilians, the United States may launch its own investigation.
Congolese warlord Ntaganda appears before ICC: On 26 March 2013, seven years after the court issued a warrant for his arrest, Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda appeared in before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to confirm his identity. Ntaganda, who faces allegations of recruiting child soldiers, murder, rape, ethnic persecution, and sexual slavery, surprised the world when he surrendered himself at the United States embassy in Rwanda last week. Many analysts suspect that Ntaganda’s surrender was precipitated by political changes that caused him to fear for his personal safety.
Experts declare former Khmer Rouge deputy fit for trial: On 25 March 2013, medical experts testified that, upon conducting physical and mental evaluations, 81-year-old Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two,” was Pol Pot’s second-in-command during the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge and the most senior Khmer Rouge official to stand trial before the court.
Zimbabwean government found guilty of torture: On 25 March 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights notified the government of Zimbabwe that it has 90 days to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the 2003 torture of human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba. The decision, finding the Zimbabwean government criminally liable, was made in May 2012 and approved by the Executive Council of the African Union in January 2013. In its decision, the African Commission said that Shumba had submitted “more than adequate evidence” to support his allegation of torture and ill-treatment, including being subjected to prolonged electric shocks in the mouth, genitals, fingers, toes and other parts of the body. The Commission said Zimbabwe failed to open an official investigation, ordering it to do so within 90 days and bring those responsible to justice.
Mr. Paul Gicheru – lawyer for the witness who recanted his testimony against Kenya’s Deputy President-Elect William Ruto- rejected a request to meet with ICC officials in Nairobi last week. Gicheru said he declined the meeting because he did not have his client’s permission to hold the meeting. “I have told them my client stands by his sworn affidavits and that there is no need for a meeting over this,” he said. Meanwhile, the witness claims to have received numerous calls requesting meetings with ICC officials, stating that his interactions have bordered on “harassment, intimidation and intruding into my private life.”
ICC Prosecutor maintains charges against Kenyatta: On 13 March 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda submitted an argument to the Court supporting the trial of Kenyan President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta on 9 July. The report maintained that a trial of Kenyatta is still warranted even though Bensouda dropped charges against Francis Muthaura, an alleged co-conspirator of Kenyatta. Bensouda gave numerous examples of the ICC charging or trying a co-conspirator without charging others, including Thomas Lubanga and Omar al-Bashir. Muthaura’s attorney, however, recently wrote to the ICC judges accusing the prosecution of hiding information that would have helped Muthaura’s case and would assist Kenyatta.
ICC suspends DRC trial due to inclement weather: On 14 March 2013, the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former opposition leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was suspended due to a snowstorm. A witness was testifying via video link, but the weather caused complications. Bemba is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity; accused of failing to rein in his soldiers who allegedly committed rape, murder, and pillaging.
Amnesty International calls on UN Security Council to refer Syria war crimes to ICC: On 14 March 2013, Amnesty International said that the UN Security Council needs to refer the war crimes occurring in Syria to the ICC. Amnesty stated that crimes are being committed on both sides of the conflict, although government forces commit the majority. Amnesty warns that if the ICC does not hold those responsible for war crimes accountable, practices such as summary execution and torture will continue. Tens of thousands of people have died and hundreds of thousands more have been misplaced thus far in the Syrian conflict.
UN tells Cambodia to move forward with war crimes tribunal after death of defendant: On 14 March 2013, Ieng Sary, one of three defendants before the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, died at the age of 87. In response, the UN, who backs the tribunal, told the Cambodian court and government to speed up the remaining trials. The tribunal has been delayed for monetary, political, and other reasons. Sary was charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity for his role in the atrocities that wiped out nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s population during the 1970s. Funerals for Sary occurred Friday, according to witnesses hundreds of mourners attended.
Amnesty International calls on Chad to arrest Bashir: On 15 March 2013, Amnesty International announced that it wants Chad to arrest President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan when he visits on Monday. As a state party to the ICC, Chad has an obligation under the Rome Statute to cooperate fully and arrest all ICC suspects. Although the African Union has urged members, such as Chad, to not cooperate with the ICC’s arrest warrant for Bashir, states’ obligations under the Rome Statute trump political decisions by the AU. Monday’s trip to Chad will be Bashir’s fourth since the ICC issued arrest warrants for him in 2009 and 2010. Bashir’s arrest warrants are for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in relation to the government’s actions in Darfur in the early 2000s.
Posted by kchin2014 in AU, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, immunity, India, Investigations, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Torture, UN Human Rights Council, Victims, War Crimes on March 7, 2013
ICC suspect takes early lead: What a Kenyatta win would mean for the Court: On 6 March 2013, with slightly more than 40% of the votes counted in the Kenyan presidential election, Uhuru Kenyatta leads Prime Minister Raila Odinga 53% to 42%. Kenyatta is currently on trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity for allegedly causing the violence following the country’s last presidential election that left over 1,200 people dead, along with his running mate, William Ruto.
Tallying the votes has been fraught with technical and administrative errors, delaying an official count and possibly ripening the fruits of distrust and violence. Seeking to avoid a repeat of the 2007 violence, significant changes to election procedure were made and community leaders have committed to maintaining peace. Although the country has been peaceful since Monday’s election, it is unclear whether peace will prevail after the official results are announced.
Insisting on their innocence, Kenyatta and Ruto apparently view the trial as a temporary affair during which they could execute their duties remotely until their impending release. However, implicitly conceding that a conviction is possible, Kenyatta stated that “[t]he international community should respect the will of Kenyans,” and characterized the situation as a “domestic issue left to the sovereign democratic will of the people of Kenya.”
Many Kenyans view the ICC as, in the words of Kenyatta supporter Joseph Koech, “a tool of Western countries to manipulate undeveloped countries.” The fact that the ICC has only indicted Africans since it was established in 2002 has drawn vocal criticism from African leaders, who have periodically suggested withdrawing from the treaty.
If Kenyatta were elected, the ICC would face a possibly insurmountable challenge. The Rome Statute, which does not offer immunity for senior government officials, would be violated if he were set free. Similarly, if Kenyatta is found to be innocent, the legitimacy of such a finding might be questioned. Regardless of its decision, many will view ICC as an ineffective administrator of justice.
(For more information, click here.)
ICC schedules trial of two Darfur rebels for 2007 attack on AU peacekeepers: On 6 March 2013, the International Criminal Court (ICC) stated that the trials of Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus would begin on 5 May 2014. Both were charged in August of 2009 for their involvement in the massacre and robbery of an AU peacekeepers’ camp on 29 September 2007. Banda and Jerbo, who are not currently in custody because they voluntarily surrendered to the ICC, insist on their innocence, and seek to clear their names. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, the alleged mastermind of the conflict that has left over 300,000 dead, 2.7 million displaced, and countless more wounded, continues to flaunt his ICC arrest warrant.
Khmer Rouge leader remains in hospital: On 7 March 2013, attorneys for Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, who is standing trial for committing genocide against Vietnamese and Muslim minorities during the regime’s bloody reign, stated that he is in stable condition, but faces a potentially protracted recovery. According to one attorney, Ang Udom, Sary is in the hospital for “stomach problems.” An official hearing to determine the status of Sary and Nuon Chea (who is also reported to be very ill) has not been scheduled due to the current strike of ECCC interpreters.
Indian leadership express concern but do not commit to acting on Sri Lankan situation: On 7 March 2013, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stated that “[m]embers [of parliament] have raised the issue of human rights violations during the conflict in Sri Lanka and the lack of progress on reconciliation, accountability and political devolution in Sri Lanka. The Government takes the sentiments expressed by members very seriously. We are firmly of the view that issues of reconciliation and political devolution in Sri Lanka need to be addressed with a sense of urgency.” Singh also indicated that the Indian and Sri Lankan governments were communicating with each other to promote the safety and civil rights of Tamils. Falling short of the demands of many, Singh did not voice support for an independent international investigation into the alleged human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. With respect to the announced U.S.-sponsored draft resolution in the U.N. Human Rights Council, which calls upon Sri Lanka to take material action towards investigating the alleged abuses, External Affairs Minister Salman Kurshid paid similar lip-service to the rights of the Tamil people, but was equally non-committal, stating that Indian support “will depend on the substance of the final text Tabled in the Council.”
Posted by cdelaubenfels in AU, Chad, Crimes against Humanity, European Court of Human Rights, Gaddafi, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTR, ICTR Residual Mechanism, jurisdiction, Kenya, Libya, Mali, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sudan, Torture, War Crimes on February 23, 2013
ICC criticizes Chad for not arresting Sudan’s Bashir: On 20 February 2013, Tiina Intelmann, a spokesperson for the ICC, criticized Chad for not arresting Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir on a visit last weekend. The ICC indicted Bashir in 2009-10 for his connection with crimes against humanity and potentially genocide in Darfur. State parties to the ICC are supposed to help the ICC exercise arrest warrants—Intelmann said that without cooperation it is difficult for the ICC “to carry out its mandate.” Chad is a state party to the ICC, but has welcomed Bashir three times. On 21 February 2013, Kenya’s ambassador in Sudan stated that Bashir is welcome in Kenya at any time. While Kenya’s stance is in conflict with the ICC, it is inline with a resolution by the African Union that members were not supposed to cooperate with the ICC on Bashir’s arrest. Kenya is currently appealing a decision handed down by the International Commission of Jurists stating that it has an obligation to arrest Bashir.(For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Serbian tribunal sentences seven ex-paramilitary for war crimes: On 22 February 2013, a Serbian war crimes tribunal based in Belgrage sentenced seven ex-Bosnian Serb paramilitaries for war time crimes against Roma civilians. The crimes were committed in 1992 during the Bosnian War. The paramilitaries were convicted of raping, torturing, and murdering 28 Romas. The sentences ranged from two to twenty years.
ICTR raises concerns with genocide trials in France: On 19 February 2013, the Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Christopher Bongani Majola, addressed concerns with France’s delay in two genocide cases. The cases of Wenceslas Munyeshyaka and Laurent Bucyibaruta were referred to France in 2007 under the ICTR’s residual mechanisms. Munyeshyaka is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity, but his case has not gone to trial since its investigation was started in 1995. Bucyibaruta was indicted in 2000, but was then freed, and has not been brought to trial. In 2004, the European Court of Human Justice condemned the French courts for their slowness. Majola noted that the French government reassured him that a case was nearly ready for trial. Majola further stated that ICTR is investigating reports that genocide convicts in Mali are living lavishly and even running their own businesses.
Libya Attorney General denies Gaddafi made a court appearance: On 21 February 2013, the spokesperson for the Libyan Attorney General, Taha Bara, denied that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi made an appearance before a national court on February 20. Gaddafi is being held in Zintan, a small Libyan town, while an admissibility claim is being decided which would give jurisdiction to Libya to try Gaddafi—instead of the ICC. In January 2013, Gaddafi had been brought before a local court in Zintan on charges relating to four ICC staff—who were subsequently arrested—visiting him in June 2012. The local court charged Gaddafi with conspiracy to undermine national security, attempting to escape from prison, and insulting the new Libyan flag. Bara stated that there is no confirmed date when Gaddafi will be brought to trial. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
EU calls on Cambodia to pay more for Khmer Rouge court: On 22 February 2013, the European Union called on Cambodia to provide more funds for the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal. The EU stated that it will hold back funds until Cambodia satisfies its contractual obligations. Cambodia states that it has exceeded its monetary commitment to the court. Resignation of judges due to political interference and threats of staff strikes due to unpaid wages have lead to slowed proceedings. The court, established in 2005, has convicted one person in relation to the crimes committed in 1975-1979 by an ultra-Maoist regime responsible for up to 2.2 million deaths.