Archive for category Balkans

20 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Khieu Samphan Defense misses ECCC deadline to end boycott: On Monday, 17 November 2014, ECCC judges gave Khieu Samphan until 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 18, November 2014, to end the boycott of his defense team in Case 002/02 or else face expedited proceedings.  Samphan has apparently ignored this order and has not withdrawn instructions to his defense team to boycott proceedings.  Samphan defense counsel Anta Guisee stated that “It’s not a whim from his part to annoy the Trial Chamber but a urge to be able to defend himself properly.”  (The Cambodia Daily).

Jamaican Judge Robinson elected to the bench at ICJ: The ICJ has elected Jamaican Judge Patrick Lipton Robinson to serve a nine-year tenure beginning February 2015. Judge Robinson’s election followed several rounds of voting in which the Security Council and General Assembly were deadlocked.  Judge Robinson consistently received more than 2/3 majority votes in the General Assembly while Argentina’s Susana Ruiz Cerutti, who withdrew last Wednesday, received the majority in the Security Council.  Judge Robinson is the first Jamaican and second Caribbean person to serve on the Court.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (StabroekNews.com, Jamaica Observer).

FIDH concerned by effect ICC reforms will have on victims’ participation: The International Federation for Human Rights submitted comments to the ICC relating to proposals for changes to the Registry’s structure and managerial framework.  While supporting the Registry in its initiative for improvement, the FIDH is concerned that the reform process “may fundamentally affect the rights of victims to participate and obtain legal representation.”  Specifically, the FIDH notes that the reform could, among other things, deprive victims of external independent counsel and prevent sufficient victim/counsel contact.  (FIDH).

ICTY spokesman says Chamber can monitor Seselj’s actions while released:  ICTY spokesperson Magdalena Spalinska said the Tribunal retains discretion to take suitable action over the provisional release of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj.  Seselj was granted provisional release earlier this month on the condition he not interfere with victims or witnesses and he return to the Tribunal if summoned.  Last week, Seselj made public appearances which could be seen as interfering with victims and witnesses.  (B92).

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6 November 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Bensouda finds war crimes committed by Israeli on Mavi Marmara but closes investigation: The ICC closed its preliminary examination into the “31 May 2010, Israeli raid on the Humanitarian Aid Flotilla bound for [the] Gaza Strip.” The ICC found that, although there is a reasonable basis to believe war crimes were committed, the legal requirements to open an investigation under the Rome Statute have not been met. Lawyers for the Comoros government, the owner of one of the vessels Israeli defence forces intercepted, intend to apply to the ICC judges for review. The lawyers claim the “Prosecutor’s decision marks the first time a State referral by an ICC States Party has ever been rejected . . . without even initiating an investigation.” (ICC, Reuters) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

UN Human Rights Council condemns human rights records of Egypt’s military government: Egypt’s human rights record was under scrutiny this week in Geneva. U.S. UN Human Rights Council representative Keith Harper found actions taken by the Egyptian government to violate free speech, peaceful assembly and fair trial rights. Harper also urged the Egyptian government to release political prisoners and investigate excessive force of protestors by security forces. Egyptian forces, on the other hand, insisted the government acted within the bounds of law and added the actions were taken in an effort to “combat terrorism.” (Middle East Eye).

ICC schedules Bemba closing arguments for 12-13 November: Closing arguments in the ICC case against Jean-Pierre Bemba have been scheduled for 12-13 November 2014. The Prosecution and Defence will be allowed three hours and Victims representatives will be allowed one and a half hours for closing arguments. Bemba is charged with rape, murder and pillaging for crimes committed in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003. (The Hague Justice Portal).

Amnesty reports “callous indifference” to civilians by Israel, but crimes on both sides: On Wednesday, 5 November 2014, Amnesty International released a report full of eyewitness testimony and expert analysis. The report found Israel committed war crimes and showed “callous indifference” to civilians during its 50-day war in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the report claimed Palestinian armed forces fired rockets into civilian areas. The report urged both Israel and Palestine to join the ICC so that the Court may prosecute the alleged crimes. Israel officials have openly dismissed the report, claiming Amnesty International was biased and failed to document war crimes by Palestine groups in Gaza. (International Business Times) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

ICC Prosecutors seek joint trial of Gbagbo and Goude: Prosecutors seek to try former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and former youth leader Charles Ble Goude together at the ICC. The former president faces crimes against humanity for his participation in the 2010 post-election violence in the Ivory Coast that left some 3,000 dead. Charges against Ble Goude are still pending. Ble Goude’s defence finds talks of joinder of the cases to be “wishful thinking.” (ABC News).

ICTY considering provisional release of Seselj for medical treatment: Former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj may be granted provisional release and allowed to leave the Hague in order to receive treatment for colon cancer, said an ICTY filing released on Wednesday, 5 November 2014. ICTY presiding judge is examining temporary release “to avoid the worst-case scenario.” Serbian doctors recently treating Seselj believe his cancer has spread to his liver. (The News Tribune).

ICTY convict Sreten Lukic to serve sentence in Poland: A Polish court decided that former Serbian police chief Sreten Lukic will serve his 20-year term in Poland. Lukic was convicted of war crimes by the ICTY in February 2009, for crimes committed in Kosovo. The final decision will be made by the country’s justice minister. Poland and 16 other countries have pledged to accept ICTY war criminals. (Ahram Online).

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23 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY allows Prosecution to present evidence of mass graves in Mladic trial: ICTY prosecutors will be allowed to present evidence concerning a mass grave discovered in the village of Tomasica in the case against former Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic. The mass grave, discovered in 2013, held more than 400 remains believed to be of Bosniak and Croat ethnicity. Investigators also believe the people were killed during the time Mladic led an attack against Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. Mladic is charged with, among other things, widespread killing, torture, forced labor and physical, sexual and psychological violence. (CNN).

Appeals proceedings for ICT of Bangladesh convict to start on 2 December: Appeals proceedings in the case against Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam are scheduled to begin 2 December 2014. The ICT of Bangladesh found Azam guilty last year of conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicty and murder for crimes committed during the anti-Liberation efforts in 1971. The leader was sentenced to 90 years imprisonment. (bdnews24.com).

War crimes trial against 10 Serb paramilitary starts in Croatian court: The Osijek County Court began proceedings on Tuesday, 21 October 2014, against ten former Serb paramilitaries. The ten accused are charged with war crimes for the killing of seventeen Croatian civilians and seven prisoners or war in Trpinja and Borovo Naselje in 1991. The prosecution expects to call more than 80 witness during the trial. The defense are arguing the accused were not present in Trpinja at the times of the alleged unlawful detention, maltreatment, torture, rape and murder. (dalje.com).

ECCC Defence skips Court management meeting on boycott: On Tuesday, 21 October 2014, the defence for both ECCC accused Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan missed meetings aimed at trying to settle the boycotts of the second phase of Case 002. The accused intend to boycott the second phase of the proceedings claiming the trial judges are biased and the defense lawyers cannot simultaneously represent them in this phase as well as the appeals in the first phase. The former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge were convicted in August 2014, in the first phase of Case 002 for crimes against humanity. (The Cambodia Daily).

Ukrainian parliament expected to ratify Rome Statute: Tanya Mazur, the director for Amnesty International’s office for Ukraine, expects the Ukrainian parliament to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC. Once ratified, ICC prosecutors would be entitled to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country when national courts are unwilling or unable. The early parliamentary election is scheduled for 26 October 2014, in Ukraine. (RIA Novosti).

Prosecution witness recalled in Bemba case: The presiding judge in the ICC case against Jean-Pierre Bemba announced that the prosecution witness who was recalled earlier this month will testify in full closed hearings. The witness is expected to give evidence on issues of witness credibility over the course of three days. The judges, prosecution, victims’ lawyers and defense will all get an opportunity to question the witness. Bemba faces charges of rape, murder and pillaging for crimes committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.

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22 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

North Korea refutes allegation of political prisoners in UN Report: North Korean diplomat Jang Il-hun has denied the country is holding political prisoners. The diplomat’s statements are in response to a February 2014, U.N. report that found North Korea engaged in, among other things, acts of enslavement, torture, forcible transfer of populations, enforced disappearance of persons and prolonged starvation. The report also included satellite photographs of the detention centers and testimony from escapees. Mr. Jang warned that the country would take unspecified “countermeasures” if efforts were made to charge the country’s leader Kim Jong-un for crimes allegedly committed in the report. (NY Times).

Serbia offers assistance with health concerns of two accused: The ICTY has received a letter from the Serbian government requesting medical information on Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj and former Republic of Serbian Krajina president Goran Hadzic. The Serbian government has offered in the letter to send doctors to the U.N. detention center in the Hague so that the two accused may receive proper health care. Seselj underwent surgery less than a year ago for colon cancer and Hadzic suffered a mild stroke this month. (InSerbia).

ICC asked to investigate Cambodian ‘land grabbing’ as crime against humanity: British lawyer Richard Rogers filed a complaint in the ICC alleging over the past 14 years an elite group in Cambodia carried out “widespread and systematic” land grabbing against the civilian population. Rogers claims these acts, consisting of “murder, forcible transfer of populations, illegal imprisonment, [and] persecution,” amount to crimes against humanity. Rogers is estimating some 770,000 people have been negatively affected by the land grabbing and 145,000 have been forcibly relocated since 2000. (Ecologist).

ICC judges formally warns Kenyan Government on confidentiality: On Tuesday, 21 October 2014, the ICC warned Kenya for leaking confidential filings in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta. The ICC judges “note[d] with concern the Kenyan government’s cumulative inattention to the taking of appropriate measures to ensure the confidentiality of proceedings.” The confidential filings concerned a request by the ICC that Kenya help identify, freeze and seize the property and assets belonging to Kenyatta. (Expatica.com).

Chad refuses to cooperate with Extraordinary African Chambers in Habre case: It is being reported that the Chadian government has refused a request by the Extraordinary African Chambers rogatory commission to travel to the country and question two former aides of Hissene Habre. International arrest warrants were issued for the aides, Saleh Younous and Mahamat Djibrine, more than a year ago for crimes against humanity committed in Chad under Habre’s rule from 1982 to 1990. The Chadian government allegedly agreed to transfer the aids to the Extraordinary African Chambers but has since decided against it. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Australian MP asks ICC to investigate the PM over detention of asylum seekers: Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has requested the ICC Prosecutor’s Office to investigate whether Prime Minister Tony Abbott breached the Rome Statute dealing with crimes against humanity or the international convention dealing with the rights of children and refugees. Wilkie claims Abbott’s policy of detaining asylum seekers on the remote Pacific nation of Nauru and on an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea was illegal and inhumane. Wilkie said it “is not illegal to come to Australia and claim asylum” and that the government had “a fundamental obligation to hear those claims and to give those people refuge if those claims are accurate.” (The Telegraph).

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1 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Karadzic trail closing statements: The ICTY heard closing arguments in the case against former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic this week.  UN prosecutor Alan Tieger stated Karadzic was responsible, along with others, for cleansing Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories. Karadzic, conducting his own defense, took responsibility for crimes committed by the Republika Srpska but denied being aware of the killings. Karadzic faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of wars for crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (Saudi Gazette, BBC News Europe).

ICTR confirms criminal responsibility and life sentence of Nzabonimana: On 29 September 2014, the ICTR Appeals Chamber confirmed a life sentence against Callixte Nzabonimana for conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The Appeals Chamber ordered Nzabonimana remain in the Tribunal’s custody until it is decided where the former Rwandan youth minister is to serve his sentence. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Public testimony ends at Ivory Coast Truth Commission: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, ended public testimony of at least eighty victims and perpetrators who spoke on the serious violations of international law committed following the 2000 presidential election in the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast truth commission was formed to investigate the bloody political violence after opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo was elected in 2000. (AFP).

ECCC accused appeal conviction and sentence: Defense for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphank, have appealed their life sentences for crimes against humanity for their roles in forced evacuations. The two ECCC accused denied the charges and argued the conviction was a miscarriage of justice. The second phase of the trial for genocide, forced labor and political purges is expected to being 17 October 2014. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (The Guardian, Phnom Penh Post).

ICC Judges reject Kenyatta request to skip status conference: ICC judges have rejected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s request to miss the Court’s status conference because of conflicts. The ICC considered the status conference a “critical juncture” in the proceedings and requires the accused to be present. Kenyatta’s defense requested the status conference be rescheduled. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (All Africa).

 

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24 September 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC opens investigation into recent war crimes and CAH in CAR:  A report issued by the ICC on Wednesday, 24 September 2014, confirms that an investigation has been opened into crimes committed in the Central African Republic by the mainly-Muslim Seleka alliance and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia. The allegations include murder, rape and recruiting of child soldiers. Investigators for the ICC will now begin the process of gathering evidence to support charges against those suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity since the conflict began in 2013. (Reuters).

African Commission undertakes fact finding mission into CAR violations: From 10 to 14 September 2014, a three member delegation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights conducted a find finding mission in the Central African Republic. The mission consisted of, among other things, discussions with CAR officials, working sessions with UN representatives, meetings with NGOs, visits to refugee camps and gathering of testimony from victims and witness. The delegation intends to issue a detailed report with recommendations to the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in January 2015. In the meantime, the delegation has expressed concern that serious violations of human rights have and are continuing to be committed in the CAR. (ReliefWeb).

Karadzic trial closing arguments to be held on 29 August:  The ICTY has scheduled closing arguments for 29 September 2014, in the case against Radovan Karadzic. The former Bosnian Serb president faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or custom of wars for crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. (ICTY).

Sweden arrests two Rwandans for involvement in 1994 genocide: Two unidentified Rwandans suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide have been arrested in Sweden. The arrests come some two months after a Swedish appeals court confirmed a genocide conviction against Stanislas Mbanenande, a low level commander involved in five massacres in western Rwanda. (All Africa).

HRW says assassination spree in Libya possible CAH: The scores of political assassinations in Libya since 2012 may amount to crimes against humanity, said Human Rights Watch. These assassinations include the 19 September 2014, killing of five civilians, two activists, members of the security forces and a cleric in the eastern city of Benghazi. Human Rights Watch stated that the failure and unwillingness of the government of Libya to initiate investigations into the crimes and prosecute those responsible has “fostered a culture of impunity that has fueled further abuses.” (Human Rights Watch).

Israel and Palestine consider investigations and next steps for crimes on both sides: The Israeli military is investigating suspected war crimes committed by its operations during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip. It is estimated more than 2,000 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s military campaign in July and August this year. Palestine’s Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the country will soon decide whether to sign the Rome Statute of the ICC and be able to file a complaint against Israel in the Court for war crimes.  (For more information on this topic, please click here) (The Times of Israel, McClatchy DC).

ECCC announces 17 October as date for final phase of trial: The second phase of the trial of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan at the ECCC is scheduled to being on 17 October 2014. In this final phase, the two former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge face allegations of genocide, forced labor and political purges. The two were convicted last month of crimes against humanity for their roles in forced evacuations. (Voice of America).

NGO report provides new evidence of HR violations by Sri Lanka: The British rights group, Freedom From Torture, released a report today, 24 September 2014, documenting acts of detention, torture and sexual violence in Sri Lanka. The acts, carried out by Sri Lanka’s security forces, have mostly been aimed at ethnic Tamils and have occurred since the country’s civil war ended in 2009.  Sri Lanka’s cabinet spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella claims the “report is totally biased” and Freedom From Torture “have anti-Sri Lanka elements and continue undue pressure on Sri Lanka by leveling baseless allegations.” (UCA News).

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3 July 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

African leaders vote to give themselves immunity from war crimes charges: On Friday, 29 June 2014, African leaders voted to amend the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to give themselves and other senior officials immunity from war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The amendment, made at an AU summit in Equatorial Guinea, was objected to by forty-two African and international human rights groups who found the immunity violated international law, domestic law and the AU Constitution. Amnesty International considers the amendment “a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights.” (Aljazeera America).

Afewerki reported in Sweden for crimes against humanity: Several high level officials in Eritrea have been reported to the Sweden police for crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report targets Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and some of his ministers by name and lists a series of crimes including indefinite imprisonment without trial, torture, kidnapping, mandatory military service and severe restrictions of freedom of expression. It is estimated that over 3,000 people, about 6% of the entire population, have fled Eritrea because of the human rights abuses. (Asmarino).

Related: Sweden ratifies portion of Rome Statute as national law: On 1 July 2014, the founding statute of the ICC became part of the Swedish penal code. This means, Swedish judges will now have the authority to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide regardless of who or where the crime was committed. Christer Engelhardt, a current MP, said “We are very clear about this: you will be punished, and if you come here, you won’t feel safe [if you have committed such crimes] just because Sweden is an open and democratic country.” (Epoch Times).

Dissenting judge in Kenyatta, Ruto cases resigns for health reasons: German Judge Hans-Peter Kaul resigned from the ICC for health reasons, effective Tuesday, 1 July 2014.  Judge Kaul was elected to the Court in February 2003 and served 11 years. Judge Kaul dissented three times in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto finding the ICC lacked jurisdiction.  (All Africa).

Serbian government prepared to provide guarantees to Hague for provisional release of Seselj: So long as the former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj agrees in a legally binding manner to abide by all conditions specified, the Serbian government is prepared to provide guarantees for his provisional release. Seselj notified the ICTY in June that if provisionally released he would be participating in public meetings, giving interviews and appearing on television shows. The former leader said he would not report to the police or wear any electronic bracelet or other device that violated human dignity. (InSerbia).

AU elects four new judges to Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Representatives from AU member states elected four new judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Tunisia’s Rafaa Ben Achour, Mozambique’s Angelo Vasco Matusse, Cote D’Ivoire’s Sylvain Ore and Uganda’s Solomy Baling Bossa will be sworn in at the Court to replace retiring judges or those judges whose terms have expired. The Court has been ratified by 27 countries. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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