Archive for category Balkans

6 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURT

Head of Gaza Inquiry replaced by US Judge: Following Israel’s criticism of William Schabas as head of the United Nations inquiry over the conflict between Israel and Gaza, Schabas stepped down from his position. Mary McGowan Davis, a former United States judge, has replaced Schabas as the head of the Gaza inquiry. Israel claimed that Schabas was biased against them, but Schabas stated that his views on Israel and Palestine were widely known. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court recently started an inquiry into the allegations of atrocities in Palestinian territories, which shows the sensitivity of the issue with Schabas departure. (France24)

UN Committee on Rights of the Child reports that ISIL abusing / killing children: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL, is a jihadist group that has been accused of war crimes for abusing and killing children. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child stated in their report that ISIL is training ten year old boys as child soldiers, treating girls as sex slaves, and torturing or executing others. The UN accused ISIL of using these tactics as a method to control children, while making them accustomed to violence. 18 independent experts that worked on this report have called upon Iraqi authorities to rescue those under ISIL control and prosecute perpetrators of crimes. (EuroNews)

Colombian Inspector General presents evidence of 2760 forced disappearances to the ICC Prosecutor: The ICC has recently been presented with evidence related to 2760 disappearances allegedly perpetrated by the Colombia rebel group FARC. Colombian Inspector General Alejandro Ordoñez presented the ICC with this evidence and stated that 1200 of these happened since 2002. This evidence was presented to the Prosecutor at the ICC to be examined as part of her Preliminary Examination. The Preliminary Examination was initiated in June 2004. Ordoñez stated that he is confident that those responsible will be investigated, prosecuted, and convicted. (Colombia Reports)

Amnesty urges Serbia / Croatia war crimes probe after ICJ genocide dismissal: Earlier this week, the International Court of Justice ruled that neither Serbia nor Croatia committed genocide during the Balkan Wars in the 1990s. Amnesty International urged both Serbia and Croatia to investigate those suspected of war crimes further to provide justice for victims. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Director of Europe and Central Asia, stated that while the ICJ was unable to find the intent to commit genocide against one another’s country, individuals on both sides committed crimes against humanity and war crimes. (Turkish Weekly)

ICTR to officially close in September 2015: After twenty years of prosecuting those responsible for crimes in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda will close its doors in September of 2015. Danford Mpumilwa, ICTR public information officer, stated that 117 of their 414 member staff have already been sent home, while another 159 will be retrenched in 2015. Mpumilwa stated that the ICTR only has one last case to try before closing its doors completely. (Shanghai Daily)

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3 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICJ dismisses genocide claims for both Serbia and Croatia: On 3 February 2015, the International Court of Justice provided its verdict on the genocide claims during the Balkan Wars in 1991-1995. The ICJ stated that neither Serbia, nor Croatia, committed genocide on one another’s populations. Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, stated that the intent to commit genocide against one another’s country had simply not been met. (Reuters, BBC) (for further information please click here)

Schabas resigns as head of Israel/Gaza Inquiry over allegations of bias: William Schabas, head of the United Nations inquiry over the conflict between Israel and Gaza, stated he would step down from his position. Israel claimed that Schabas was biased against them and had a long history as a critic of the country and its current leadership. Schabas stated he would step down so as not to overshadow the importance of the upcoming report. (Aljazeera)

HRW report on Egypt HR abuses says President Al-Sisi has overseen reversal of rights: Human Rights Watch published its 2015 World Report last Thursday that claimed that Egypt’s current human right’s situation is the “most serious in the country’s history.” The HRW report states that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has overseen a reversal of human rights through mass killings by his security forces and imprisonment of protestors. The HRW report also outlines a decline in human rights through violence against women, discrimination, and a decline in freedom of religion, association, expression, and assembly. Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa director, stated, “the situation…is getting worse [every] day.” (Daily News Egypt)

ICC Prosecution accused at AU Summit of working with Kenyan terrorists: The Kenya Citizens Coalition accused the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor of working with Mungiki members, some of which also belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. This occurred at the 24th session of the Africa union summit in Addis Ababa. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had eight Mungiki witnesses with information on “how the president funded and coordinated Mungiki members to carry out attacks” during the post election violence of 2008. According to Kenya Citizens Coalition, some of these witnesses belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. (Capital News)

President Kenyatta tells AU Summit that ICC case against deputy will collapse: At the 24th session of the Africa Union Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto will fail much like the case against him did. Kenyatta and Ruto were both charged with inciting post election violence after the election in 2008, but Kenyatta’s case was dropped in December. Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Ruto was exhibiting the same weaknesses as the case against him did. (Yahoo News)

Palestinian authorities state that it will bring cases of illegal Israeli settlements to ICC: Israel announced that it would erect 450 new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry response to Israel’s illegal settlements is that it will refer the case to the ICC. The ministry stated that these new settlements also come shortly after Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute, which the ministry claims as a sign of Israel’s defiance to international law. (World Bulletin)

AU Peace and Security Council criticized for deferring release of S. Sudan investigation report: Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, led the AU commission of inquiry into an investigation last year concerning South Sudan. The investigation focused on those killed in the civil war between South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s supporters and supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar. Obasanjo turned in the report last Thursday to the AU Peace and Security Council, but the results of the report have not been disclosed. A petition from 21 South Sudanese civil society organizations requested that the report be made public claiming it could “play a critical role in deterring further violations.” Human Rights Watch stated that not publicizing the report hinders holding those accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Daily Mail)

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1 December 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Appeals Chamber upholds Lubanga conviction: On 1 December 2014 Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese war criminal, had his conviction of war crimes confirmed. Erkki Kourula, the Appeals Chamber presiding judge, stated that the majority rejected the appeal. Lubanga was convicted for recruiting and using child soldiers in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 2002-2003. He is set to serve his 14-year prison sentence, though the eight years that he spent in jail waiting for the conclusion of his trial count towards his sentence. The confirmation of Lubanga’s sentence by the ICC marks the close of the court’s first case. (Reuter, Aljazeera) (for additional information please click here)

ICTY Prosecutor requests that Seselj provisional release revoked: After almost 12 years in detention, Serbian nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj was released last month to get treatment for cancer. ICTY prosecutors stated the Seselj must be brought back to detention after his threats heightened tension in the Balkans. Seselj has rallied supporters and is once again defending the nationalism he supported in the 1990s. Prosecutors urged the judges to order his return. Prosecutor Serge Brammertz stated that Seselj was in detention for crimes against humanity and has threatened those who were cooperating in the prosecution. Brammertz also stated that Seselj violated his temporary release by vowing never to return to detention voluntarily. (Bloomberg. Daily Mail) (for additional information please click here)

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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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