Archive for category ECCC
Congolese soldier to remain at ICC; single judge rules: On 18 November 2013, an ICC judge denied release from court custody a Congolese military leader accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Bosco Ntaganda argued his voluntary surrender for two arrest warrants and his lack of travel documents showed his commitment to remain in The Hague and cooperate fully with the ICC. The Single Judge rejected these arguments and found Ntaganda’s “prior ability to escape for such a lengthy period of time, until the moment of his choosing, enhances his motivation to flee when the circumstances allow.” Ntaganda faces charges for enlisting child soldiers and committing crimes of rape, murder and slavery during the 2002-2003 Congolese conflict. (All Africa).
ECCC Chamber rules second trial for Khmer Rouge leaders “imperative”: On Monday, 25 November 2013, the ECCC’s Supreme Court Chamber held it was “imperative” to commence as soon as possible the next trial against Khmer Rouge senior leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan. The Chamber found that any delay in trying the two leaders may violate the right to a speedy trial and create issues for continued pre-trial detention. The Chamber noted concerns of “financial malaise” by the ECCC was “irrelevant and inappropriate.” The two senior leaders face charges of genocide in the next trial. (The Cambodian Daily).
Painful visit to Bosnian mass grave for ICTY President: ICTY President Theodor Meron visited a mass grave in Bosnia this Monday, 25 November 2013, where the remains of at least 430 unidentified Bosniak and Croat victims have recently been excavated. Many of the victims were killed in concentration camps and home searches by Serbs during the early 1990s war. Meron, a Holocaust survivor, said it was “very difficult to speak at [a] place where one stands face to face with the horror a man can do to another man.” (Springfield News-Sun).
Bensouda requests additional funds for ICC operations: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the ICC Assembly of States Parties to approve an additional Sh2.3 billion for next year’s operations. Bensouda said the increased funding was necessary to “carry out deeper investigations to meet the required threshold of proof.” Tiina Intelman, President of the ICC Assembly of States Parties, said an increase in the Court’s budget for operations is a process that requires either an amendment to the Rome Statute, which takes time, or a change to the rules, which has a more immediate effect. (All Africa).
Trinidad’s Henderson appointed ICC judge: The Assembly of States Parties elected Geoffrey Andrew Henderson of Trinidad and Tobago to the ICC. Henderson, a graduate of the University of West Indies Law Faculty and the Sir Hugh Wooding Law School, takes the seat of recently named Trinidad President Sir Anthony Carmona. Henderson’s term will end on 10 March 2021. (Carib Journal).
ECCC defendants maintain not-guilty at closing arguments: On 31 October 2013, the two surviving former leaders of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge asked to be acquitted as closing arguments were made at the ECCC. Nuon Chea and Khieu were initially charged with crimes against humanity. It is expected that a verdict will be delivered in the first half of 2014. (UN News).
In absentia death sentences for two ICT-Bangladesh defendants: On 3 November 2013, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan were found guilty of carrying out episodes of torture and murder during the war of independence from Pakistan in 1971. Defense lawyers are calling the trial a farce while veterans of the war were said to be cheering the decision. (Reuters).
Kenya ICC trial delayed; encouraged by UN African members: Rwanda, Togo and Morocco circulated a draft resolution among UN Security Council members this last Friday asking to defer the ICC trials of President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto for one year. The Security Council has the ability to defer ICC proceedings for one year under Article 16 of the Rome Statute. (For more information on this topic, please click here, here.) (Reuters, CNN).
Chea’s defense team denounces “showcase” trial: Lawyers from Nuon Chea’s defense team called his trial “a showcase of the conclusion that everyone involved wanted and expected from the day the tribunal was constituted,” stating that “no one in this court is interested in ascertaining the truth.” One lawyer – Voctor Koppe – cited political interference as preventing his team from obtaining the evidence they needed to adequately secure their defense. Chea (“Brother No. Two”) and former head of state Khieu Samphan stand trial for their role in the Khmer Rouge atrocities in Cambodia in the late seventies. Earlier this week, prosecutors requested the maximum sentence – life imprisonment – for the men. (AFP)
Suspended sentences possible for Kenyatta and Ruto: ICC judge Chile Ebo-Osuji has said that suspended sentences for President Kenyatta and Vice President Ruto of Kenya may be possible, meaning that if they are convicted, their sentence would not be imposed until they leave office. The African Union recently appealed to the ICC to delay their trial given their responsibilities in their home country with regards to reconciliation and development, and Judge Ebo-Osuji has stated that the court could consider any “real contributions” in sentencing. “Such mitigating circumstances could result in penitent credits or suspended sentence pending completion of term of office,” said Ebo-Osuii, “depending, of course, on other considerations as well.” However, the judge did caution the UN Security Council with regards to the AU’s bid for deferral. (All Africa).
Fifth witness in Ruto case speaks to symbolic protection against arson for ODM supporters: The fifth witness in the case against Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto testified that houses belonging to ODM supporters in Kenya’s 2007 election were symbolically marked to spare them from being burned. He described how Kalenjin warriors burned homes belonging to Kikuyus, but skipped homes marked with “ODM 41.” “As we were running, I noticed that the houses that did not have the label ‘ODM 41’ were burning,” he said. He further testified that the young warriors were running with jerricans of fuel through the homes. (Standard Digital)
Prosecution seeks life in prison for Cambodian accused: ECCC prosecutors in closing arguments this week sought life imprisonment for two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial of the co-accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, was previously divided into small portions for procedural efficiency. This particular part concerns the culpability of the two leaders during the capital’s April 1975 evacuation in which many civilians were forced to work in harsh conditions or killed. (VOA Cambodia).
Kenyatta trial approaches; AU pushing hard for postponement: The AU has continued in its efforts this week to defer the impending ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Expected to begin on 12 November 2013, the AU raised concerns over security and bad precedent as reasons to postpone the trial for at least one year. International scholars have argued the AU response is fear of “set[ting] precedents in which there is a possibility of heads of state from Africa, in future, begin dragged into the court.” Just last week, the ICC held Kenyatta could be absent from all proceedings in The Hague except for opening and closing statements. (VOA News).
Kenyatta not troubled by ICC case: While delivering a speech during Mashujaa Day celebrations this weekend, President Uhuru Kenyatta assured Kenyans the ICC would acquit him of crimes against humanity once the truth was uncovered. The sitting President also guaranteed that he would continue to fulfill his executive duties if required to appear before the Court in The Hague. Kenyatta and the AU are currently attempting to prevent or postpone the ICC trial. (All Africa).
Former President Taylor requests Rwandan incarceration: On 14 October 2013 it was reported that Charles Taylor would rather serve his fifty year sentence in Rwanda instead of the UK. Taylor argued in a letter to the court that his incarceration in the UK would put an undue burden on his relatives. Taylor’s appeal was rejected and it was later confirmed by a UK minister that his sentence would be served in a UK prison. (BBC).
Closing statements at ECCC set for this week: The ECCC has hearing final statements of former regime leaders in the near future. The UN-backed court will on Wednesday enter the last phase of the trial of “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 87, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 82. The court is currently investigating two possible new cases but analysts believe a shortage of funds and politics may restrict the start of any new proceedings. (AFP).
AU Summit says Kenyatta should not attend trial; draws international criticism: The AU has called on the ICC to delay the trial of Kenyan President Kenyatta. During a recent AU summit the continent’s relationship to the ICC was in focus. African leaders accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting people on the continent and ignoring the rest of the world. (Aljazeera, Amnesty Int.). For more information on this topic, please click here.
ICC allows Libyan Trial of al-Senussi: On 12 October 2013 it was announced that al-Senussi will be tried in Libya. ICC judges have ruled that Libya has produced a sufficient number of competent authorities to carry out a proper investigation of al-Senussi’s alleged crimes. (Aljazeera).
Seselj verdict delayed at ICTY: On 17 September 2013, it was reported the ICTY’s expected 30 October 2013, judgment against former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj has been delayed. The news comes less than one month after the removal of Judge Frederik Harhoff for authoring a letter criticizing the Tribunal’s prior acquittal of senior Serbian officials. Seselj is charged with aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the early 1990s Bosnian War. (Washington Post).
First prosecution witness testifies at ICC Ruto trial: The first of 22 scheduled prosecution witnesses began testifying this week in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. The protected witness, designated Witness 536, described the day she was locked in a burning church by armed members of Ruto’s political party after the disputed 2007 Presidential election. It is estimated that 36 people were burned “beyond recognition” in the church fire. (BBC News Africa).
New ICJ Nicaragua v. Columbia case: Nicaragua has filed a new action against Columbia in the ICJ seeking sovereignty of the San Andres archipelago. In November 2012, the ICJ awarded Nicaragua the territorial waters surrounding the archipelago, however, the Court granted Columbia continued control over the islands. Nicaragua recently announced its plans to drill for oil in the Caribbean and the San Andres islands are potentially rich in natural resources. (BBC News Latin America & Caribbean).
ECCC secures loan to pay striking staff: The ECCC has obtained a loan from the U.N. to pay its national staff and end the second strike over unpaid wages this year. The U.N. stressed it was the Cambodian government’s sole responsibility to cover national salaries and expects the country to pay back the loan. The ECCC is currently trying two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, for crimes against humanity. Closing statements are expected to begin mid-October. (Google News).
Mollah verdict triggers strikes in Bangladesh: Protests erupted in Bangladesh yesterday, 17 September 2013, after the Supreme Court found senior leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Abdul Quader Mollah, guilty of crimes against humanity. The Supreme Court sentenced Mollah to death for ordering the killing of a Pakistani family during the 1971 independence war. Supporters of Mollah, convinced the ruling was “politically motivated” and prejudiced, called for a 48-hour nationwide strike. Many injuries have been reported as protestors threw homemade bombs in the streets and police fired tear gas into the crowds. (The Kansas City Star).
Ruto trial begins at ICC: The ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang commenced on Tuesday, 10 September 2013. Ruto and Sang are charged with ordering and directing attacks against an opposing ethnic group after the December 2007 Presidential election. During opening statements, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated evidence presented will prove Ruto and Sang’s acts were “not just random and spontaneous,” but rather, “a carefully planned, coordinated and executed, campaign of violence.” On rebuttal, Ruto and Sang argued the prosecution lacked credible evidence and unfairly targeted the Deputy President and radio presenter. (CNN).
ECCC victims seek U.N. aid: Civil Parties in the ECCC case against two senior Khmer Rouge leaders have requested direct assistance from the U.N. The request comes the same month national staff began a second strike over unpaid wages and Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley resigned. The civil parties voiced concern over the Cambodian government’s ability to financially support the Chambers and fear the trial will end without judgment. The parties claim the U.N. has a moral obligation to the ECCC and should step up “to ensure the . . . tribunal’s survival.” (The Cambodian Daily).
Venezuela officially withdraws from South American court: On 10 September 2013, Venezuela became the second South American country to effectively withdraw from membership in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has publicly referred to the Court as “a tool to protect US geopolitical interests,” welcomed the country’s departure. On the other hand, concerned U.N. and human rights groups are fearful the “withdrawal . . . could heighten political persecutions” in Venezuela. (WRAL.com).
Columbia to contest ICJ decision: On 9 September 2013, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Columbia’s intention to challenge the recent ICJ decision awarding Nicaragua a greater portion of the maritime territory in the Caribbean. Santos argued the Court’s ruling was ineffective absent “a new treaty . . . negotiated between the two nations.” Nicaragua has asked only that the two countries peaceably comply with the ICJ decision. (ABC News).
Ruto travels to The Hague for ICC Trial: On 9 September 2013 it was reported that Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto arrived at The Hague to stand trial at the ICC on Tuesday. Mr. Ruto has been charged with crimes against humanity, which are alleged to have been committed during Kenya’s 2007 election. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
UN Human Rights Team set to visit Syria: 0n 9 September 2013 Carla del Ponte of the UN commission of inquiry on Syria stated that UN investigators will enter to find out who carried out the chemical attacks and other war crimes. Del Ponte has not given a time frame for when such investigations will be carried out and has not commented on whether US attacks could affect the team’s work.
Co-Prosecutor resigns from ECCC: Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge court has been dealt a new setback. The resignation of a key prosecutor on Monday coincides with the current strike by court staff over unpaid wages. The tribunal has only produced one conviction and has been plagued with financial hardship. However, Andrew Cayley states that such hardship had nothing to do with his resignation.
UN DRC Envoy highlights ongoing rights abuses in the region: On 7 September 2013 a top UN official focusing on the DRC stressed the need to address impunity in the country. UN official Ms. Robinson went on to say that she believes that there should not be amnesty for those accused of having committed serious crimes but hopes that a holistic approach can be implemented soon.
Kenyan Parliament to discuss ICC departure: A French news agency has reported that Kenyan’s Parliament would be meeting this week in a special session to discuss withdrawal from the Rome Statute. ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah assured supporters of the Court that any decision by the lawmakers would have no impact on the already commenced cases against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta or Vice President William Ruto. If successful and authorized by the U.N., Kenya would be the first country to secede from the Rome Statute.
Ruto requests ICC overturn vote denying trial in Kenya: On 2 September 2013, Kenyan Vice President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang moved the ICC to reconsider holding proceedings in Nairobi or Arusha after court judges voted last week nine to five against. Ruto and Sang argued the Court engaged in “gross procedural unfairness” by denying the defense adequate time to respond to a changed prosecution submission. The accused alleged the prosecution initially favored relocating the trials, but was quickly swayed by human rights activist Gladwell Otieno’s opposition letter. Ruto and Sang claimed the ICC erred in allowing the prosecution to amend it’s position one day before the defense began its case.
Gunman abduct daughter of Gaddafi’s intelligence chief: Anoud Abdullah al-Senussi, the daughter of Muammar Gaddafi’s former head of internal security, was kidnapped in Libya on Monday, 2 September 2013. Police were transporting Senussi from a prison in Tripoli when gunman opened fire on their convoy. Senussi had been serving 10-months in jail for illegally entering Libya to visit her incarcerated father who was charged by the country for crimes committed during Gaddafi’s rule. The ICC additionally issued an arrest warrant for Senussi’s father in May 2011.
Bemba witness accuses rebel fighters of crimes: A protected ICC witness testified on behalf of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, 2 September 2013. The witness told the Court via video link she had been raped by rebel forces under the command of François Bozizé. Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity for failing to control his troops in the murder and rape of civilians during the 2002 and 2003 conflict. The former Vice President has repeatedly claimed the acts were carried out by Bozizé forces.
Cambodians go on strike at ECCC: For the second time this year, Cambodian staff at the cash-strapped ECCC have officially gone on strike “over unpaid wages.” The Extraordinary Chambers, significantly short on donations from international donors, has been unable to pay Cambodian judges, prosecutors, translators, interpreters, and other needed staff since June 2013. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautioned last week that a second strike would put “the very survival of the court . . . in question.” The ECCC was in the middle of trying two former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.
Ruto defense moves for staggered court schedule at ICC: On 21 August 2013, defense for Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto filed a motion with the ICC seeking a court schedule of “two weeks on, two weeks off.” The defense argued a staggered schedule would enable Ruto to comply with the Court’s earlier ruling requiring the state leader to be present during certain specified proceedings, while at the same time allowing Ruto to fulfill his obligations in Kenya. Ruto’s trial is expected to begin 10 September 2013.
ECCC to get 3 million Euros from EU: On Wednesday, 21 August 2013, the EU stated it would be contributing 3 million Euros to the cash strapped ECCC for 2013 international salaries. EU Ambassador to Cambodia Jean-Francois Cautain explained the funding was in addition to the 1.3 million Euros the EU provided to the Extraordinary Chambers for the national budget. Cautain emphasized the “commitment of the European Union to deliver justice for the Cambodian people.” The ECCC is currently nearing a $3 million deficit and has been unable to pay national salaries since May.
Libya begins trial against Gadhafi’s head security chief: The trial of Gadhafi’s former chief of security, Mansour Dhau, commenced in Libya on Tuesday, 20 August 2013. Dhau is charged with stealing more than 2,000 civilian cars and alleged to have directed airstrikes against NATO. Dhau told the court at his first appearance that he was “not a thief” and requested to be released.
U.N. emergency meeting after 100 die in alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack: The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday, 21 August 2013, after it was reported the Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons in an attack on Damascus killing at least 100 civilians. In a press statement released shortly after the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assured the member states that there would be a “thorough investigation” into the reported incident. Syria had previously agreed to allow a U.N. special experts team to investigate the site of the alleged 19 March chemical weapons attack on Khan al Assal. The team has yet to access the site in Syria and it has been questioned whether an investigation six months later would produce useful evidence. On the other hand, member states calling for a prompt investigation into the latest attack are more hopeful the U.N. could determine if chemical weapons are being used and what side is responsible.
Bemba witnesses claim rebel fighters committed crimes against humanity: The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, commander-in-chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, continued this week at the ICC with testimony from two protected defense witnesses. Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity for failing to control his troops in the murder and rape of civilians during the 2002 and 2003 conflict. Bemba’s witnesses provided statements accusing rebel forces under the command of François Bozizé of committing the alleged atrocities. The witnesses testified that a select number of Bozizé’s recruits were fluent in the Congolese dialect Lingala; the language many prosecution witnesses have relied on to identify Bemba’s troops as the perpetrators.