Archive for category ECCC
UN human rights chief calls for inquiry into Sri Lanka war crimes: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed” in Sri Lanka. Pillay’s report precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council debate scheduled for next month that may take up and order action in Sri Lanka. As of now, the U.S. is planning to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka during the debate. Pillay’s report – which will likely add pressure to the Sri Lankan government – states that thousands of civilians were killed, injured, or remain missing after the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). “None of these cases has…resulted in the perpetrators being brought to justice,” said Pillay.
ICC has not yet received request to investigate Yanukovich: Earlier this week, Ukraine’s government voted for the country’s President, Viktor Yanukovich, to be sent to the ICC with two members of his government to be tried for “serious crimes” relating to the deaths of more than 100 people. An ICC spokesman has stated that the ICC has not yet received Ukraine’s request, and noted that it would be up to the ICC prosecutor whether to pursue the investigation after the request is received.
Khmer Rouge tribunal orders physical/psychiatric assessment of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea : In a 17 February filing released earlier this week, the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has ordered that Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea undergo physicals and psychiatric assessments to determine if they are fit to proceed with the trial’s second (and quite possibly final) segment. Doctors have been appointed for the octogenarian defendants and have been tasked with reporting to the court on their physical and cognitive ability. The examinations are to take place in late March, shortly before a tentatively scheduled hearing on 28 March that will provide the parties to question the medical experts about their conclusions. Though neither defendant has claimed to be unfit to stand trial, both have requested briefer and less frequent courtroom hearings to accommodate their diminished ability to remain engaged in lengthy proceedings.
ICC dismisses Prosecution appeal on decision to adjourn Gbagbo confirmation hearing: On 16 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed an appeal lodged by the Prosecution against a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber on 3 June 2013 which adjourned the confirmation hearing of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and requested the Prosecution submit additional evidence on specific incidents relating to the charges against Gbagbo. The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecution had failed to show that the Pre-Trial Chamber committed an error when treating 45 incidents relied on by the Prosecution as an Article 7 attack against a civilian population.
ICC rejects Prosecution appeal on amending temporal scope of Ruto, Sang charges: On 13 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal of the Prosecution in the case against William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang which contested the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision not allowing the Prosecution to amend the temporal scope of the charges against the two accused. The Appeals Chamber found that once the charges against an accused are confirmed it is no longer possible to amend or add charges. The Appeals Chamber confirmed that once the confirmation of charges is completed the only change that can be made to the charges is a recharacterisation of the facts while not exceeding the facts and circumstances of those described in the charges confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber.
Libya to allow US and UK authorities question ICC indicted Al-Senussi: Libya Justice Minister Salah Merghani has stated that Libya will allow authorities from the UK and US travel to Libya and question former Gaddafi Spy Chief Abdullah Al-Senussi over the 1988 bombing of a PanAm flight over Lockerbie Scotland. When asked if Al-Senussi, who is indicted for crimes against humanity before the ICC, would be questioned, Merghani is quoted as saying “Yes this is the intention … What we are working on is finalizing the arrangements for this as much as obtaining the evidence that’s available with the UK and US authorities … We all need to know the facts.”
ICTY Seselj case continues after Judge Harhoff’s disqualification: On 13 December 2013, the Trial Chamber of the ICTY decided that the trial against Vojislav Seselj would continue following the election of Judge Mandiaye Niang to the bench. Judge Niang was elected to the Trial Chamber after Judge Harhoff was disqualified on Seselj’s request. The Trial Chamber noted that Judge Niang is capable of assessing the credibility of witnesses while becoming familiar with the case.
ECCC Prosecution issues list of potential witnesses: On 17 December 2013 it was reported that Prosecutors on the ECCC case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan issued a confidential listed of 96 witnesses who will give evidence about Khamer Rouge detention facilities and work sites. Witnesses are reported to include “Cambodian citizens, journalists, civil servants, military personnel, local authorities and monks” as well as seven experts and Kaing Kek leve (“Duch”) who was convicted by the ECCC and sentenced to life for crimes committed in Tuol Sleng prison.
UN Commission to be established for CAR crimes: On 16 December 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the United Nations will establish a commission which will investigate crimes committed in the Central African Republic; which Ban Ki-moon as said “descended into chaos” this year after the Government was overthrown in March. Ban Ki-moon is quoted as saying he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.” Bi Ki-moon said that the presence of humanitarian efforts, including African and French troops, and human rights monitors has improved the situation, but that “we must do more to meet this test of global solidarity.”
Ireland in discussions with ICC on witness relocation program: On 16 December 2013, Fatou Bensouda stated that the Government of Ireland is in negotiations with the ICC in order to establish a program which would relocate witnesses to Ireland after their testimony before the ICC. Speaking from Dublin, the Prosecutor stated that “Protection of witnesses is one of the court’s main priorities and in this regard the conclusion of witness relocation agreements with the court is a practical way through which [states] can help the court meet this challenge.”
Saif Al Islam domestic hearing adjourned: A Tripoli court held a hearing on Thursday, 12 December 2013, for Saif Al Islam, son of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The hearing was adjourned to the end of February “due to the absence” of four other accused, all charged with threatening national security during the 2011 revolt. Saif Al Islam is also wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Gulf News).
Bensouda calls out U.N. Security Council for “prolonging” Darfur conflict: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has accused the U.N. Security Council of inaction. Specifically, Bensouda has voiced concern over the Security Council’s failure to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. Since the war in Darfur began in 2003, the U.N. and other international organizations have expended more than $10.5 billion. An estimated 300,000 individuals have died and over 2.7 million displaced. Bensouda said the “council’s silence even when notified of clear failure and/or violations by U.N. member states of their obligations to comply with this council’s resolutions only serves to add insult to the plight of Darfur’s victims.” (ABC News).
ECCC prosecutor wants second trial immediately: On Wednesday, 11 December 2013, officials from the ECCC met to discuss how to proceed with the second part of the trial of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea. The Chambers concluded with the first part of the trial on forced evacuations at the beginning of this year. ECCC international prosecutor Nicholas Kourmjian requested the second proceedings begin “as soon as possible.” Lawyers for the two senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge has asked to delay the next part until the ECCC issues a decision on the first. (VOA Cambodia).
Gaddafi’s head of security deserves ICC trial; says daughter: The daughter of Muammar Gaddafi’s head of security says her father deserves a fair trial at the ICC. Abdullah al-Senussi, accused of crimes against humanity related to the conflict during Gaddafi’s rule, has been in a Libyan prison the past 16 months. The ICC ruled earlier this year that the Libyan government could fairly try Senussi. Senussi’s daughter, however, fears her father will face a “show trial” if not sent to The Hague. (Chicago Tribune).
Accused Kenyan journalist claims ICC cases unconstitutional: Walter Barasa, a journalist accused by the ICC of witness interference, has moved the Kenyan High Court to declare the ICC cases against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto unconstitutional. Barasa claims the ICC cannot legally apply laws retrospectively to the sitting Kenyan leaders. The High Court has yet to decide whether to extradite Barasa to The Hague for trial. (The Star).
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).