Archive for category Balkans

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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26 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ruto / Sang trial adjourns to July for final witness: On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, the ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang was adjourned due to the health of a prosecution witness. When the Court resumes in July, the prosecution may present additional witnesses depending on an Appeals Chamber decision. The prosecution sought the compelled testimony of eight witnesses who have refused to testify. (All Africa).

ICTY asks Netherlands and Serbia to comment on possible provisional release of Seselj: The Netherlands, as the host country of the ICTY, and the Serbian government have seven days to comment on guarantees for a possible provisional release of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj.  Specifically, Serbia must guarantee the former leader will be escorted by authorities at all times, including to his place of provisional release, upon his return to the Netherlands and for any movements for medical reasons. The Serbian government must also ensure Seselj is placed under house arrest and does not contact or influence victims or witnesses.  Lastly, Serbia must guarantee that the government can immediately arrest Seselj in the event he violates any of the conditions of provisional release. (InSerbia).

HRW calls for investigation into misreporting of human rights in Sudan by AU / UN: Human Rights Watch has urged the U.N. Security Council to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into alleged cover-ups and inaccurate reporting by African Union / U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. The call by Human Rights Watch comes two months after a report was published alleging peacekeepers failed to accurately report on the bombing of populated areas and the attacking of villages by the Sudanese government. While noting the dangerous situation peacekeepers face and the pressure from the government, a representative from Human Rights Watch nonetheless finds the accusations “devastating.” (Human Rights Watch).

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5 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Santiago steps down as ICC judge, cites health issues: Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago is stepping down from the ICC due to health concerns; she announced in a letter addressed to President Sang-Hyun Song this week. Santiago was elected in December 2011, and was the first Asian from a developing country and first Filipino to sit on the Court. Santiago requested her letter to ICC President Song be distributed to all parties of the Rome Statute “with thanks.” (Business World Online).

African Attorney Generals seek more African judges at the ICC: At a meeting in Ethiopia last month, African Attorney Generals said they will push for more African judges at the ICC. Additionally, the AGs agreed to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the issue of presidential immunity. The AGs previously recommended an amendment to the Protocol of the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to allow for presidential immunities. (the Star).

Special Court for Sierra Leone grants application for Senessie’s conditional early release: Yesterday, 4 June 2014, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone granted Eric Koi Senessie an application for conditional early release. Senessie was convicted of contempt by the SCSL in June 2012, for bribery and interfering with a witness. Senessie received two years imprisonment after admitting his guilt in a formal statement to the SCSL. (the Hague Justice Portal).

Three Bosnian Serb former soldiers arrested for war crimes following mass grave discovery: Mitar Vlasenko, Rade Vlasenko and Drago Koncar were arrested today, 5 June 2014, in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The three former Bosnian Serb soldiers are suspected of war crimes committed against Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. The arrests stem from last year’s discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of some 1,000 victims. (Chicago Tribune).

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28 May 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ECHR rules Croatia has right to bring war crimes charges: The European Court of Human Rights “declared inadmissible” a complaint filed by a former Croatian soldier alleging his right to not be tried or punished twice in respect to the same criminal charges was violated. Fred Margus was convicted of war crimes and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 2007 by a Croatian court for the same offenses as those terminated in a 1997 case under the General Amnesty Act. The ECHR found that the General Amnesty Act did not apply to offenses “amounting to the gravest breaches of humanitarian law or to war crimes.” The ECHR concluded that the Croatian court acted in compliance with international law when charging suspects previously granted amnesty under the Act for war crimes committed during Croatian war. (dalje.com).

IACHR orders protections for leaders of campesinos movements: On 8 May 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered protection for 123 leaders of campesino movements in the Lower Aguán River Valley in northern Honduras. Campesinos in the Aguán have been engaged in an ongoing conflict with powerful land owners since the 2009 military coup in Honduras. The request for protection filed in October 2013, reported that over 100 campesinos had been killed. (World War 4 Report).

Experts optimistic about development of Arab Court for Human Rights: A two-day conference with international experts and judicial systems began yesterday, 27 May 2014, in Bahrain to discuss and finalize the articles of association necessary for the establishment of the Arab Court of Human Rights. The Foreign Minister of Bahrain opened the conference expressing hope the articles of association will “lay[] a standard that puts into account a margin of appreciation for the states, a margin of appreciation also to the culture in the Arab region, and also to be in conformity of international standards.” The articles once finalized will need to be ratified by seven nations in order to be enforceable. (Bahrain News Agency).

DRC official warns of legal action against Congo-Brazzaville regarding the treatment of DRC nationals: The Democratic Republic of Congo is preparing a complaint to be filed in the ICC and Congolese courts alleging the Congo-Brazzaville government committed physical and sexual violence, looted property and illegally deported DRC nationals. DRC Information Minister Lambert Mende recognized the Congo-Brazzaville government’s right to expel foreigners but stated that when doing so the country must respect human rights, the dignity of the person and his property. (Voice of America).

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24 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Kosovo Parliament approves special war crimes court to try crimes committed by Albanians: Kosovo lawmakers voted on Wednesday, 23 April 2014, to prosecute in a special war crimes court Albanian rebels accused of intentionally killing captured Serbs during the 1998-99 Kosovo war for the purpose of harvesting organs. The EU-backed court, to be seated in both Kosovo and the Netherlands, is expected to apply Kosovo law and be staffed by international judges and prosecutors. Some 10,000 people died and millions left homeless in the Kosovo war. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (Reuters, ABC News).

ICC confirms that Prosecution is still considering complaint calling for prosecution of crimes in Egypt: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is still considering the Freedom & Justice Party compliant filed last year documenting violations of international law committed in Egypt since the 2013 military coup. Specifically, the Freedom & Justice Party accused the post-coup regime of carrying out widespread and systematic crimes amounting to crimes against humanity. The ICC Chief Prosecutor has yet to make a final decision on whether to initiate a formal investigation of the crimes in Egypt, and thereafter seek charges, or whether to reject the complaint. (Middle East Monitor).

AU Panel to investigate crimes in South Sudan: The African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, a panel tasked with investigating human rights abuses committed in the country since conflict erupted in December 2013, is conducting a 10-day field mission. The panel is made up of international lawyers, human rights activists and a judge and will gather visual and audio evidence, conduct interviews from victims and witnesses and review reports prepared by international and national organizations and experts. Over one million have been displaced since fighting began in South Sudan and 200 alone were killed last week. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (BERNAMA, Sudan Vision).

US investigating Syrian Government’s responsibility in chemical attacks: The U.S., working with the U.N. and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, is investigating whether the Syrian government is responsible for two alleged chemical attacks on rebel-controlled areas earlier this month which could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity. The U.N. passed a Security Council resolution in September 2013 requiring the Syrian government to hand over for destruction the regime’s chemical weapons stockpiles. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated the investigation was in its preliminary stages and declined to comment on whether the April 2014 attacks would show a breach of the U.N. resolution by the Syrian government. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (The National, The Washington Post).

Reparation requests agreed upon before the ECCC: Thirteen projects, including national memorials, mental health centers and a national day of remembrance has been agreed on for civil party reparations at the ECCC. The agreement comes prior to the Extraordinary Chamber’s decision in the first phrase of the trial against senior leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan for serious violations of international law, including genocide. (Voice of America).

Kenya President Kenyatta seeks distance from petition of Barasa against the ICC: Kenyan President Unuru Kenyatta filed a motion with the ICC on Wednesday, 23 April 2014, seeking to remove his name from a petition brought by journalist Walter Barasa. Barasa is wanted in The Hague for witness interference and included the Kenyan President’s name in a petition to halt the Kenyan cases at the Court. Kenyatta voluntarily surrendered to the ICC and claimed Barasa’s petition is contrary to his consent. (Capital News).

Bangladesh backs universal ratification of the Rome Statute: On Wednesday, 23 April 2014, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali met with ICC President Sang-Hyun Song in The Hague to discuss Bangladesh’s efforts toward universal ratification of the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute established the ICC and has been ratified by 120 member states. Bangladesh ratified the treaty in 2010. (bdnews24.com).

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