Archive for category AU


France to introduce resolution seeking ICC investigation of war crimes in Syria: In the next few weeks, France intends to present to the U.N. Security Council a resolution referring Syria to the ICC for war crimes; said French Ambassador to the U.N. Gerard Araud. In the meantime, France presented to the Council a report commissioned on behalf of Qatar containing over 50,000 photographs of alleged human rights abuses committed in Syria. Araud said the report triggered “several minutes of silence” by Council members. (Global Post).

Russia may seek ICC trial for Ukrainian ultranationalists: United Russia deputy Michael Markelov urged Russia to refer Ukrainian nationalist organizations, such as the Right Sector and UNA-UNSO, to the ICC for crimes committed during conflict in Chechnya, South Ossetia and the Balkans. The United Russia deputy hopes the ICC will recognize the “groups as extremists and ensur[e] an international status of political outcasts for them.” The ICC, however, is not legally obligated to consider Russia’s request. Russia, while a signatory to the Rome Statute, has yet to ratify the treaty. (RT).

INTERPOL Secretary General vows to continue to seek justice for Rwanda genocide victims: Speaking at the 6th International Expert Meeting on Genocide, War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Kagali, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald Noble said the international policy organization will continue to bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Noble asked all the INTERPOL member countries to fully cooperate and apprehend genocide suspects. Representatives from 41 member countries, as well as international organizations are attending the three-day meeting. (all Africa).

Darfur rebel’s ICC trial postponed until further notice due to “logistical difficulties”: The expected 5 May 2014, trial of Abdallah Banda at the ICC for war crimes has been postponed until further notice. Citing “logistic difficulties,” the Court stated it would “decide in due course on the further steps to take, after receiving additional submissions from the prosecution and registry.” Banda, who is not currently in custody as he voluntarily surrendered to the ICC, is accused of leading the September 2007 attack on an AU peacekeepers camp. (Naharnet).

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ICTY rejects Mladic’s Rule 98bis application and find case to answer: On Tuesday, 15 April 2014, Trial Chamber I of the ICTY rejected Ratko Mladic’s 98 bis application for acquittal, a rule under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence that allows the Tribunal to acquit a defendant after an oral hearing if there exists no evidence to support a conviction. Upon dismissing the application, the Chamber held that even if Mladic has a defense to all of the counts against him, there is evidence to support all of the charges against him. (ICTY).

Libyan trial of Ex-Gaddafi Officials postponed amid concerns of a fair trial: On Monday, 14 April 2014, the Libyan government opened and subsequently adjourned the trial against Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and his former officials, due to incomplete investigations; particularly the investigation of evidence against Saadi Gaddafi remains incomplete. The case will proceed on 27 April 2014, in order to allow the investigators more preparation time and to set up video links for the sons and officials who were not brought to the court for security reasons. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to express that the defendants’ right to a fair trial have been violated. The groups are concerned that not all of the defendants have had access to lawyers; that the defense teams have been restricted in their ability to assess evidence and case files; that interrogation strategies and detention conditions have been unfair; that Libya recently amended its Code of Criminal procedure to allow trials through video links, meaning the defendants, all of whom are being held in prisons and one of whom is being held in a secret location by a militia, will not physically appear at their trials; and that the Libyan justice system is generally unstable, in part because previous attacks against lawyers and judges in Libya have resulted in the suspension of courts throughout parts of Libya. The defense lawyers raised concerns about insufficient access to the case files in court. The ICC is still deliberating on the admissibility of the cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, and a decision from the Appeals Chamber on whether the Libyan government is able to try them is still outstanding. (Reuters) (For more information on this topic, please click here, here, and here).

Ruto trial hears from satellite imagery expert and breaks for Easter: Lars Bromley, a UN specialist in satellite imagery, testified before the ICC in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Kenyan journalist Joshua Arap Sang, explaining that at least 506 buildings were deliberately burned down in the Rift Valley following the election, and that 190 more buildings were “possibly burnt.” He based his analysis on satellite images, the deliberate nature of the burnings being evident from burn patters. The defense disputed the expert’s testimony. The trial is currently on break for the Easter holiday, after which the prosecution will likely call a witness who was instrumental in the confirmation of charges against Ruto.  (Institute for War & Peace Reporting) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

Habre defense team says trial is politically motivated: The defense team of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre claims that the reasons behind his prosecution in Senegal were political and instigated by a Chadian spy agency. Habre, who is charged with having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture while he was in charge of Chad between 1982 and 1990, will stand trial in Senegal in 2015, where he was in exile for twelve years before being arrested last July. (Legalbrief Today).

ICTR Prosecutor asks for increased efforts to prosecute all suspects of 1994 crimes in Rwanda: In a commemoration address, Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the ICTR, asked for an increased effort to find and prosecute perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsis in 1994 who have not been tried, and that countries in which suspects of these crimes are located to transfer these alleged perpetrators to Rwanda in order to stand trial. He specifically mentioned Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana, all of whom are fugitives and suspected of having played significant roles in the genocide. (AllAfrica).

UN High Commissioner for HR expresses concerns for amnesties in Nepal: Following the Nepalese government’s drafting of a law that would create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Disappeared Persons, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that this legislation would allow these two panels to recommend amnesties for human rights abuses that occurred in Nepal. The government denies the existence of amnesty possibilities in the legislation, saying that amnesty would only occur with the victims’ consent. (Reuters).

Amnesty claims CAH and war crimes escalating in Nigeria: Amnesty International issued a report stating that violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria due to a higher number of attacks by Boko Haram and responses by Nigerian security forces, which has resulted in the death of at least 1,500 people since the beginning of the year. According the group, these events may be war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the group urged other countries, the African Union, and the UN to launch investigations into these acts. Amnesty International has documented attacks carried out by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces that occurred in January, February, and March 2014. (Amnesty International).

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Dissenting opinion in Katanga Judgment alleges violations to accused’s rights: Following the ICC’s 7 March 2014 conviction of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga as an accessory on one count of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes, Judge Christine van den Wyngaert wrote a dissent, arguing that Katanga’s fair trial rights had been violated and that he should be acquitted. Katanga was initially charged as a principal perpetrator under Article 25(3)(a), but the Chamber re-characterized the mode of liability after both parties had rested their case to view him as an accessory under Article 25(3)(d), the timing of which is the basis for Judge van den Wyngaert’s dissent that the defense was given insufficient time to respond to and build a case against the re-characterized mode of liability. Specifically, she argued that the Chamber’s communication of the factual and legal basis for the re-characterization was insufficient for the defense to properly prepare for this change, and that the communication was not specific enough to effectively inform Katanga of the charges pending against him. She also doubted that the “facts and circumstances” of the changes were within the charges the Pre-Trial chamber had confirmed. The dissent also referred to bias on the part of the majority. (International Justice Monitor, Los Angeles Times) (For more information, please click here). 

UN investigation launched to probe HR abuses in CAR: On Monday, 10 March 2014, the UN launched an investigation of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, focusing specifically on reports of genocide in the area. The panel conducting the investigation consists of Bernard Acho Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer and former deputy chief prosecutor for the ICTR; Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister; and Fatimata M’Baye, a Mauritanian human rights lawyer. Muna expressed concern that Christian and Muslim hate propaganda will increase violence, but is hopeful that the investigations will serve to lessen conflict. The Security Council ordered the investigation in December 2013, instructing the panel to collect information and identify perpetrators for prosecution. (ABC News).

Ruto responds to Prosecution application on compulsory testimony of eight witnesses: In response to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s application for the Court to compel the appearance of eight witnesses in the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ruto’s lawyers argued that the witnesses’ testimony is irrelevant. They maintained that hostile witnesses would be unable to contribute to the Prosecution’s case and questioned the credibility of the witnesses, referring to one witness’s emotional and behavioral difficulties and the incongruity between that witness’s account and the testimony of another witness. They also asserted that the Court cannot compel a witness to appear, but simply to speak once the witness has appeared voluntarily. Bensouda argues that the Court has the power to compel a witness to both appear and speak, and maintains that the witnesses have been bribed or influenced improperly. (Standard).

Serbia begins defense arguments before ICJ: On Monday, 10 March 2014, Serbia presented its rebuttal in the genocide case Croatia brought against Serbia before the ICJ. Serbia, which filed a counterclaim against Croatia for genocide committed by Croatians against Serbs, alleged that Serbs are victims of genocide and that they also suffered during the Balkan Wars. The Defense expressed regret for the crimes committed in Croatia, but emphasized that the violence was not one-sided. The arguments for the countersuit will be presented in the coming days. (in Serbia).

AU establishes commission to investigation HR abuses and crimes committed in South Sudan: Following the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the African Union established a commission last week to investigate human rights violations and crimes committed during this period. The inquiry body was created through the Peace and Security Council (PSC) decision, and its purpose is to investigate the conflict and make recommendations to ensure accountability and reconciliation. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will head the five-member panel. The conflict has lasted about 10 weeks, and it is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed and nearly one million displaced. (AllAfrica).

Thousands of Tamils in Geneva protest Sri Lankan rejection of international investigation: In response to the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to initiate an international probe into alleged war crimes, 4,000 Tamils gathered in Geneva on Monday, 10 March 2014 to protest the rejection. The protest took place around the UN headquarters, and was made during an annual session of the Human Rights Council, which will be asked later this month to evaluate an international draft resolution calling for a probe into the crimes committed against Tamils during the Sri Lankan Civil War. (Agence France-Presse).

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4 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Prosecutor comments on reconsideration motion in Perišić case: On Monday, 3 February 2014, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that his Office requested that the ICTY Appeals Chamber reconsider its acquittal of Momčilo Perišić, the former Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, who had been convicted to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995. In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Prosecutor argued that the “specific direction” requirements on which the Appeals Chamber based the acquittal is incorrect and should be overturned. (ICTY).

Witness from explosive unit testified at STL: On Monday, 3 February 2014, Abdel-Badih al-Soussi, who was the manager of the explosives unit of the Internal Security Forces at the time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, testified before the STL. Although he had not gone to the crime scene immediately following the explosion, he had attended a meeting at the military court that afternoon, to which a member of the explosives bureau had brought car parts from the site. The judge ordered that the parts be examined and the site cordoned off to the public. Soussi testified that he did not ask that the car parts be returned to the crime scene, nor did the judge discuss during the meeting whether parts of the motorcade should be removed. (The Daily Star).

Judge replaced on Kenyatta Trial Chamber: Following a decision by the Presidency of the ICC, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson replaced Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Henderson is from Trinidad and Tobago, and was elected at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in November 2013. He will serve as a judge at the ICC until 10 March 2021. Judge Eboe-Osuji had excused himself from the trial. (ICC-CPI).

U.S. urged to suspend aid due to human rights violations in Egypt: On Monday, 3 February 2014, the Working Group on Egypt, as part of the NGO Human Rights First, released a statement that it had sent a letter to U.S. President Obama, urging his administration to cease sending aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government progresses in transitioning to a democracy and improves human rights conditions within the country. According to the NGO, depriving Egypt of aid until progress has been made sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not tolerate the human rights abuses that have occurred in Egypt, which are documented in a report the group recently released. (Human Rights First).

Former Bangladeshi Minister indicted for war crimes: On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 indicted Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya Party, on 16 charges of war crimes, including the commission of genocide. He and his group, the “Quaisar Bahini”, allegedly committed crimes against humanity in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria during the 1971 Liberation War. According to the prosecution, Quaisar had also served as a commander of the Rajakars, which was an auxiliary group of the former Pakistani army. The opening statement of the prosecution will be made on 4 March 2014. (Z News).

AU issues statement urging united front concerning ICC and Kenya, Sudan cases: In a statement issued Saturday, 1 February 2014, the AU expressed that it was not pleased with the UN Security Council’s refusal to defer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The AU encouraged all of its members to comply with AU decisions and stand together on this issue in order to defer the proceedings. Botswana is currently the only AU member state that has officially opposed the AU’s decision to challenge the ICC cases. (Sudan Tribune).

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3 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Kenyan High Court allows Barasa extradition to ICC:  The Kenyan High Court has dismissed a petition submitted by journalist Walter Barasa arguing against his impending extradition.  Barasa faces allegations of bribery in relation to the Ruto and President Kenyatta trial.  It is alleged that Barasa engaged in trying to bribe witnesses to withdraw their testimony.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here)  (Chicago Tribune, Star).

Rwandan former intelligence chief to appear in Paris court:  France has opened its doors to the prosecution of alleged human rights abusers who participated in the Rwandan genocide in French courts.  There are currently 27 cases waiting to be tried.  Many human rights advocates are celebrating this decision because they claim France has not participated to the extent other countries have in years past.    (SeattlePI).

Kenyan Government invited to make submissions on assistance to ICC:  The ICC has invited Kenyan officials to appear before the court and to share their insight into how Kenyan law may assist the ICC in ascertaining more witnesses for the ongoing Kenyatta case.  It is likely that Attorney General Muigai will make the trip to the ICC in two weeks.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here)  (Capital News, ICC).

Serbian political leader arrested for war crimes; protests in Kosovo:  The leading Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, has been arrested by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) on suspicion of war crimes against ethnic Albanians.  EULEX has the authority to handle sensitive cases that the local judiciary is unable to devote resources to.  Demonstrators in Kosovo have expressed frustration over the arrest and are asking for Ivanovic to be released.  For additional information on this topic, please click here)  (BBC, World Bulletin).

AU calls on ICC to halt prosecutions against sitting heads of state:  The AU is calling for solidarity in protest of ICC proceedings against sitting African presidents.  AU members assert that Kenya and South Sudan need their presidents in place to avoid instances of instability and possible violence.  (PressTV).

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30 January 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

10th witness in Ruto case testifies about post-election violence: Testimony continued at the ICC on Wednesday, 29 January 2014, in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. The tenth prosecution witness, P0128, described to the court instances of looting and bribery by members of the Kalenjin ethnic tribe. The witness also claimed supporters of Ruto encouraged the Kalenjins to vote during the election so that when his party won all non Kalenjins would be forced out. (All Africa).

Kenyatta withdraws excusal request: Defense lawyers for Uhuru Kenyatta have pulled the request to excuse the Kenyan President from physical presence at the ICC. The lawyers stated the request was made “with the assumption” the court would begin the trial on the 5 February 2014 date, although it had earlier been postponed indefinitely. Kenyatta’s withdrawal follows the Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s waiver of his right to presence during the trial. (Standard Digital).

Kenyatta attends AU summit, ICC discussions expected: African leaders met today to kick off the 22nd AU Summit. While agriculture and food security are the main topics of review, the heads of states plan on discussing Africa’s relationship with the ICC. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, an attendee, was directed by the summit last year not to attend the ICC trial against him for crimes against humanity. (Citizens News).

African Court on Human and People’s Rights may cover criminal offenses: Chief Justice of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Mogoeng Mogoeng, reported that the court’s jurisdiction may broaden to cover war crimes and crimes against humanity. Justice Mogoeng’s statement followed increased demands for an AU court capable of such prosecutions after the ICC indicted Kenya’s sitting heads of state. The court cannot currently hear cases file by an individual of a criminal nature. (Business Dive).

Turkish parliament’s human rights committee says Assad regime committed crimes against humanity: The Human Rights Committee of the Turkish Grand National Assembly found the report published last week to be “first-hand proof of the war crimes committed in Syria.” Turkey takes in some 700,000 displaced Syrians. The civil war in Syria has so far killed more than 100,000 and displaced nearly 9 million. (World Bulletin).

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23 December 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor requests trial adjournment:  Fatou Bensouda has asked the ICC for an adjournment in the trial of Kenyan President Kenyatta.  The recent loss of two key witnesses means that the case does not satisfy the high evidentiary standards that are required.  (BBC).

Kenyatta Witness explains leaving:  The Mugiki witness who has declined to testify against President Kenyatta has revealed why he quit as an ICC witness.  According to his statements the ICC investigation never reached a level of competence he felt necessary to compel his testimony and nor did the prosecution ever understand the ideology of the Mugiki.  Lastly, the witness has stated that his primary desire to become a witness was to preserve his own life for fear of being killed because of his status as a Mugiki.  (AllAfrica).

AU Leader condemns S. Sudan attacks:  Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, chairperson of the AU, has stated that the violence currently occurring in the capital of S. Sudan has escalated to what she believes to be war crimes.  Former vice president Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir have expressed a willingness to meet to discuss a peaceful resolution.  The S. Sudan government estimates that 500 hundred people have died as a result of the current conflict since Sunday last week.  (Sudan Tribune).

Seselj Trial continues despite judge’s removal:  The case against Serbian nationalist politician Vojislav Seselj has been continued with the addition of a replacement for judge Harhoff who was disqualified.  Seselj has asked for the case to be thrown out and complains that the delays have amounted to an “unbelievable torture.”  The court disagrees and will allow time for the replacement judge to assess witness testimony via video recordings before entering the deliberation phase.  (IWPR).

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26 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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).

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21 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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.

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19 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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).

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