Archive for category Balkans

8 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Appeals Chamber upholds life sentence:  The life sentence imposed on Zdravko Tolimir for genocide was upheld by the ICTY Appeals Chamber on Wednesday, 8 April 2015.  Tolimir, a former senior Bosnian Serb military leader directly reporting to commander Ratko Mladic, was convicted in December 2012 for crimes committed during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre which killed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.  Presiding ICTY Appeals Judge Theodore Meron said “In light of these genocide convictions alone, the Appeals Chamber considers that Tolimir’s responsibility does not warrant a revision of his sentence.”  Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic are the last remaining suspects at the ICTY charged in relation to Srebrenica.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Newsweek, Wall Street Journal).

Bensouda says ICC has no jurisdiction to prosecute ISIS: While there is evidence Islamic State insurgents committed “crimes of unspeakable cruelty”, an ICC investigation and prosecution “appear limited”, said Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Wednesday, 8 April 2015.  Bensouda stated that the Court lacked jurisdiction into the situation in Syria and Iraq as neither are member parties to the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, and the United Nations Security Council had not requested an investigation.  Nonetheless, the Chief Prosecutor stated “The international community pledged that appalling crimes that deeply shock the conscience of humanity must not go unpunished.”  Bensouda noted that non-members could grant the ICC jurisdiction over the crimes, the U.N. Security Council could refer the matter or the Court could exercise “personal jurisdiction” over citizens of member states.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (The Guardian, Reuters).

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18 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Serbia arrests 8 in relation to Srebrenica: On Wednesday, 18 March 2015, Serbian authorities arrested eight suspects in connection with the killing of more than 1,000 Bosnian civilians at a warehouse near Srebrenica in 1995.  Vladimir Vukcevic, Chief Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor, said the eight men arrested “are former members of a special brigade of the Bosnian Serb police.”  These eight are the first arrests Serbia has made of people directly involved in the killings and the suspects will likely be tried in Serbia, rather than at the ICTY which officials say will soon be closing.  The ICTY is currently prosecuting Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military commander Ratko Mladic for serious violations of international law, including genocide. (For additional information, please click here) (NY Times, ABC).

Ukrainian Prime Minister looks to ICC over Russia: As directed by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Foreign Ministry is expected to file an application to immediately start criminal proceedings against Russia at the ICC. Yatsenyuk claims statements made by the Russian officials “concerning the seizure and annexation of Ukrainian territory . . contain evidence of the violation of international law.”  Ukraine is accusing Russia of aggressively interfering in the country’s internal affairs. (RAPSI).

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16 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Residual Mechanism for SCSL grants conditional early release to Moinina Fonfana: Former Sierra Leonean military leader Moinina Fonfana has been granted conditional early release by the President of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone. The terms of Fofana’s conditional early release include acknowledging and showing remorse for his crimes and ensuring that he will not in any way interfere with witnesses.  Fofana was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity and will serve the remainder of his 15-year prison sentence in Sierra Leone so long as he complies with the terms of the conditional early release. (The Patriotic Vanguard).

ICTY rejects Hadzic request for provisional release: The ICTY rejected former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina Goran Hadzic’s request for provisional release to seek medical treatment in Serbia.  The Tribunal found that the former President was receiving adequate care at the U.N. detention center in The Hague and that the defense had provided insufficient humanitarian reasons justifying such a release.  Hadzic’s trial for crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war in Croatia during the early 1990s began on October 16, 2012. (InSerbia).

UN Commission of Inquiry on Gaza delays report until June: The U.N. Human Rights Council has announced that the scheduled 23 March 2015 report from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Gaza has been delayed until June.  Investigators on the U.N. Commission of Inquiry said they need more time to review additional evidence before releasing the report, which concerns the alleged war crimes committed during last year’s 50-day conflict in Gaza.  (Europe Online Magazine).

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4 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Palestine to file case at ICC against Israel on 1 April: An executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation reported that Palestine will file a complaint against Israel for alleged war crimes at the ICC.  The crimes were committed during last year’s war in Gaza in which some 2,200 Palestinians killed, most of them civilians.  Palestine’s motion to join the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, becomes effective 1 April 2015, thus giving the Court jurisdiction over crimes in Palestine. (Al Arabiya).

Bensouda assures witness protection for all witnesses in Ongwen trial: During a visit to the Barlonyo Memorial Site in northern Uganda, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the Court will guarantee protection of all witnesses in the case against Dominic Ongwen.  Bensouda also urged victims to reach out to the Office of the Public Council for Victims at the ICC and consider testifying against Ongwen, the commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ongwen’s trial was supposedly set to begin 24 August 2015 but Bensouda has asked for an extension in order to conduct additional investigations. (Star Africa).

ICC AC’s judgment on Lubanga reparations addresses scope and measures for victims: On 3 March 2015, the ICC Appeals Chamber amended the judgment on reparations for victims in the case against Thomas Lubanga. Specifically, the appeals judges found that reparation measures should include integrating former child soldiers back into the community and that the trial court erred in finding Lubanga should not be liable for reparations because he was indigent.  The appeals judges also found that “the trial chamber erred in holding that reparations award should be formulated and implemented to include victims of sexual and gender-based violence.”  The appeals judges found that “that sexual and gender and gender-based violence cannot be defined as harm resulting from the crimes for which Mr. Lubanga was convicted.”  Lubanga, the leader of the rebel group Congolese Patriotic Union, was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years in prison for war crimes.  (Voice of America).

Mladic defence witness disputes date of meeting over Srebreica: A defence witness in the ICC case against Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic has disputed the date of a meeting of senior officials in Srebrenica.  Miodrag Dragutinovic, the assistant to the chief of staff of the Zvornik Brigade at the time, testified that the meeting occurred 11 July 1995, one day after the fall of Srebrenica, and in contradiction with the prosecutions argument that the meeting occurred 12 July 1995.  The meeting in question concerned “previous combat activities and future tasks” one of which was that “units were deployed in the Zepa sector to engage the Zepa brigade and neutralise its members.”  In the days following the fall of Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys. (IWPR).

UN advises Sri Lanka to address mistrust on prospects of accountability: On Tuesday, 3 March 2015, the U.N. urged Sri Lanka’s new government to hold accountable those responsible for committing serious violations of international law during the country’s 26-year civil war. Additionally, the U.N. advised Sri Lanka to address mistrust among the Tamil population about whether the new government will achieve accountability and post-war reconciliation.  The new government of President Maithripala Sirisena, which took power earlier this year, has promised to investigate alleged abuses and establish an independent judicial mechanism for investigations. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Reuters, ABC).

African Commission issues decision against Sudan on arbitrary detention and torture: The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights issued a decision finding Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service arbitrarily detained and tortured three human rights defenders in November 2008.  The African Commission also held that Sudan failed to investigate or redress the harms suffered by the three human rights defenders.  Osman Hummaida, Amir Suliman and Monim El Jak were detained and tortured for a period of time in Sudan for allegedly supporting the ICC’s investigation into crimes committed in Darfur. (All Africa).

N Korea FM dismisses UN report on crimes against humanity: At the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday, 3 March 2015, North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong dismissed a recent U.N. report concluding the country committed crimes against humanity, including mass starvation. The Foreign Minister said the U.N. report was based on lies and called for its immediate revocation.  The Foreign Minister also criticized the United States pursuit of human rights issues in other countries and claimed it was a “stereotyped method . . . to smear the countries disobedient to it.” (ABC).

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2 March 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ngudjolo faces immigration challenge after acquittal at ICC: Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui is being held in custody in the Netherlands pending deportation after his 2012 acquittal of war crimes and crimes against humanity was confirmed by the ICC.  The former militia leader does not have a residence permit to stay in the Netherlands but fears being deported back to Congo for safety reasons.  Ngudjolo’s defence have filed motions seeking asylum and also intend to appeal his detention and deportation. (ICC Observer).

Rwandan court upholds conviction of former justice minister for role in genocide: On 27 February 2015, Rwanda’s former justice minister’s sentence of life imprisonment for “being an accomplice to carry out . . . genocide” was upheld by the country’s high court. Agnes Ntamabyariro was convicted six years ago for crimes committed during the 1994 conflict in Rwanda in which 800,000 were killed.  Lawyers for Ntamabyariro said the former justice minister may appeal the confirmation due to the severity of the punishment. (News 24).

US Government makes move to deport 150 Bosnian immigrants on war crimes allegations: U.S. immigration officials have identified some 300 Bosnian immigrants living in the United States believed to have been involved in war crimes and “ethnic cleansing” during the 1990s conflict in the former Yugoslavia. It is being reported that at least 150 of those identified, many of them former Bosnian soldiers, may be deported. Kathleen O’Connor, a human rights prosecutor at the Justice Department urged witnesses to come forward regarding war crimes in the former Yugoslavia and stressed that “justice can be served in the United States despite the fact that many years have gone by and that the conduct occurred overseas.” (New York Times).

Rwandan investigators urge action against BBC for program questioning genocide: Rwandan investigators are urging the government to ban BBC radio programs questioning the 1994 genocide from the country’s airwaves. Former top Rwandan prosecutor Martin Ngoga found the BBC “abused press freedom and free speech, violated its own editorial guidelines (and) transgressed journalistic standards.”  The BBC has denied the accusations and said it had no intentions of “downplay[ing] or conceal[ing] the horrifying events of 1994.” (Malay Mail).

Bensouda urges Kony to surrender for trial at ICC: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda urged Joseph Kony, a rebel chief of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, to surrender to the Court and stand trial. Bensouda vowed the rebel chief would receive a fair, independent and impartial trial.  The Lord’s Resistance Army is accused of killing some 100,000 people in a conflict in northern Uganda nearly three decades ago. (Standard Digital).

Preparation made for a Special Court on Kosovo: Kosovo is preparing for the creation of a Special Court to prosecute killings and organ trafficking during the conflict in Kosovo; said Prime Minister Isa Mustafa on Monday, 2 March 2015. Specifically, the court will look at crimes by the former Kosovo Liberation Army against Serbs. Prime Minister Mustafa said experts were working to “harmonise the legislation related to the Special Court, the court’s statute and amendments to the Constitution that are required for the laws and statute to be adopted.” (InSerbia).

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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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