Archive for category Guantanamo
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Gender crimes, Genocide, Guantanamo, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICT of Bangladesh, ICTY, Investigations, Ivory Coast, jurisdiction, Kenya, Libya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on February 13, 2013
Libya appeals ICC’s request for al-Senussi to be handed over: On 12 February 2013, the Libyan government appealed the ICC’s order that Abdulla al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s spy chief, was to be handed over to the international court. The ICC has said that Libya must extradite Senussi to The Hague where he would face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to 2011 Libyan uprising. Libya’s liaison to the ICC, Ahmed el-Jhani, stated that this is appeal is a sign that Libya wants to be a part of the international community—in the past they would have simply ignored the ICC. Libya hopes to try Senussi and other powerful actors in Gaddafi’s loyalists at home to show the Libyan people that justice is being served. Libya has become a test case for the ICC, which relies on the cooperation of member states to arrest suspects and enforce court orders.
ICTY trial of two Bosnian Serb leaders to continue next week: On 10 February 2013, the ICTY announced that the trials of Radovan Karadzic, former Republika Srpska president, and Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb army commander, will continue next week. Karadzic’s genocide case will resume with the examination of eight defense witnesses. One of Kardzic’s witnesses is General Radislav Krstic, who was sentenced by the ICTY to 35-years for aiding and abetting genocide, however Krstic has refused to answer questions thus far, citing to poor health. Mladic’s trial, dealing with war crimes, will resume with the prosecution calling four witnesses—ranging from an explosives specialist to a hospital director.
Cambodian Court overturns severance of case: On 8 February 2013, the Supreme Court Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) ruled that the Trial Chamber’s severance of Case 002 had been improper. The Co-Prosecutors had made a motion, which the Trial Chamber rejected, to expand the scope of trial in Case 002. The Co-Prosecutors successfully appealed the Trial Chamber’s decision. The Supreme Court’s decision is limited to the severance of Case 002, all other hearings and proceedings of the case are not affected.
ICC confirmation of charges hearing schedule for former Cote d’Ivoire president: On 12 February 2012, the ICC scheduled the confirmation of charges hearing for former president of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbago. Gbago’s hearing schedule for 19 February will determine if there is sufficient evidence to charge Gbago with crimes against humanity in relation to 2010 post-election violence. Gbago’s defense lawyers argue that the ICC does not have jurisdiction because Cote d’Ivoire is not a party to the Rome Statute; yet the ICC ruled that there is no “temporal limitation” to when Cote d’Ivoire accepted ICC jurisdiction in 2003. The hearing will be the first time a former head of state has stood before the ICC.
Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal changes defenses’ sound system: On 12 February 2012, the Guantanamo Bay tribunal official in charge of the sound system announced that the courts microphones have been changed to address concerns of defense lawyers that private conversations are being monitored. The defense attorneys believe that the government has been overhearing private conversations with their clients, who are charged with aiding and abetting the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. The defense microphones will no longer be live unless they are manually activated.
Bangladesh passes law allowing for swift execution of convicted war criminals: On 11 February 2013, the Bangladesh cabinet approved a new law which would make the execution of persons convicted of war crimes in relation to the 1971 independence war would be swiftly conducted. The law is in response to recent protests over the International Criminal Tribunal of Bangladesh handing down a life sentence to a leader of the 1971 atrocities, Abdul Quader Molla—the protesters thought Molla deserved death. The law will give defense lawyers only 45 days to appeal war crime convictions—or 60 days if 45 days is impossible. The law will likely be passed by the parliament in the next few days.
Concerns over witnesses disappearing and being tampered with in Kenya: On 8 February 2013, claims of potential witnesses in the upcoming Kenya ICC trials disappearing have been aired. Dozens of women have claimed that their husbands, who were involved in Kenya’s post-election violence in 2007-2008, are missing. None of the alleged disappearances have been proven in court, but a lawyer for some of the wives claims that the signs point to extra judicial killings. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is concerned with “attempts to interfere with the witnesses.” The lawyer for Uhuru Kenyatta, a presidential candidate accused of crimes against humanity, has called for his client’s trial to be postponed due to a key witness against Kenyatta recanting his story. Kenyatta’s trial is set to begin in April, a month after Kenya’s elections.
United Kingdom donates £500,000 to ICC Trust Fund for Victims: On 12 February 2013, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the UK would contribute £500,000 to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims. The purpose of the Trust Fund is to support the victims of sexual and gender based violence during armed conflicts. Reparations can be made to victims by court order or general assistance. The Trust Fund was established under Article 79 of the Rome Statute, which formed the ICC.
Posted by syhoekstra in CAR, Crimes against Humanity, DRC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Guantanamo, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTR, ICTR Residual Mechanism, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Syria, Uganda, UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on October 22, 2012
Security Council holds Debate over ICC’s role: On 17 October 2012, the UN Security Council held a debate on the role of the ICC in international peacekeeping. This debate marked the first time that a discussion about the ICC involved all of the UN’s member countries. One contentious topic was the referral power of the Security Council; that body’s power to refer a situation in any country to the ICC’s chief prosecutor if it is determined that the situation amounts to a threat to international peace and security. Some accuse the Security council of exercising this power selectively in light of the infrequency of referrals. Another issue discussed was the difficulty in getting some countries to cooperate with the ICC’s orders (for more information on this topic, click here).
Security Council to sanction M23: On 19 October 2012, the UN Security Council announced it will impose sanctions on the M23 rebel movement in the Democratic Republic of Congo for violating the country’s arms embargo. The council’s official statement condemned the group for several alleged offences, such as large-scale use of child soldiers, summary executions, and attempts to establish a parallel DRC government. The announcement came at the end of a week in which violence between the M23 and the Congolese army resumed after several weeks of peace. Additionally, on Tuesday, a UN expert report claiming Uganda and Rwanda are supplying arms to the rebels was leaked, just after Rwanda won a 2-year position on the Security Council.
Tanzania calls for moving Arusha detainees: Last week, the Tanzanian ambassador to the UN asked that all member states consider requests to receive into their countries defendants who have served their sentences or been acquitted in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. 5 defendants whose acquittals were confirmed on appeal are still housed in Arusha, as are 2 convicts whose sentences have run their course. These people, stated the ambassador, have a right to rejoin their families and move on with their lives, but some have remained in Arusha for as long as 6 years. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in June making a similar request to the ambassador’s.
Tribunal to investigate Iran prison killings: This month, An independent tribunal in the Hague is set to continue its investigation into roughly 20,000 killings that allegedly took place in Iranian prisons in the 1980’s. The first round of hearings for the tribunal happened this summer in London, where 75 witnesses testified to the atrocities of the regime of Ayatollah Khomeini. The killings, says Amnesty International, were often of teenagers and people with left-leaning political views. The ICC has never looked into these alleged abuses. This independent tribunal is modeled after one created by Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre in the 1960’s that investigated America’s Vietnam war record.
Bemba defense resumes: After 3 weeks of delays, the trial of former DRC Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba restarted. Two defense witnesses, close colleagues of former Central African Republic President Ange-Félix Patassé, took the stand. Both reiterated Bemba’s main defense claim, that his troops were not under his control when they allegedly committed war crimes during the CAR’s 2003 armed conflict. The witnesses pointed to three of Patassé’s high-ranking army officials as the true commanders of the DRC troops at the time. Both witnesses testified with their images and voices distorted, and mostly in sessions not open to the public.
9/11 defense lawyers call for televised trial: On 19 September 2012, the legal defense team of 5 prisoners held at America’s Guantanamo Bay prison asked that their clients’ trials for orchestrating and aiding the attacks that took place in the U.S. on 9 September 2001 be televised. The judge in the military tribunal was uneasy about the idea and noted that the U.S. Secretary of Defense was the only person with the authority to grant the request. The defense noted several concerns about the fairness of the proceedings in support of their request. Currently, the trials may be viewed by the public from a theater at an American military base in Maryland, and several other locations are available for families of the terrorist attack’s victims.
Bensouda investigating Kenyan violence: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda began her visit to Kenya today, 22 October 2012. She is in the country to interview victims in several of the areas where post-election violence took place in 2008. The visit is part of the court’s preparation for the crimes against humanity trials of four Kenyans scheduled for next April. The Kenyan government has stated it will welcome and assist Ms. Bensouda during her visit.
ICC requests more support from UN Security Council, General Assembly: On Wednesday, International Criminal Court President Judge Sang-Hyun Song signaled the ICC’s need for stronger support from the UN Security Council and General Assembly. Citing problems the Court has had with obtaining nations’ compliance with investigations in Darfur and Libya, Judge Song re-iterated that the ICC’s ability to handle international situations is dependent on cooperation from the international community. In particular, Judge Song stressed the need for cooperation from all countries—whether or not they are parties to the Court— so that the Court can effectively investigate situations, collect evidence, arrest and trace aspects of suspects. The Court also specifically requested that in any of its referrals of criminal matters to the Court, the Security Council stress to the relevant countries the obligation and need for total cooperation (the ICC can only pursue cases in nonmember states by referral from the UN Security Council). For more information, please click here.
Karadzic denies wrongdoing during Bosnian War: On 16 October 2012, as the Karadzic defense team began its case, former Serbian military commander Radovan Karadzic forcefully denied the allegations levied against him. Karadzic faces 10 counts at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity stemming from his alleged role in the Srebrenica massacre in which 7,000 Bosnian Muslim males were killed, as well as from his alleged role in orchestrating a 44-month shelling of Sarajevo in which 12,000 civilians were killed. Contrary to the picture painted by the Prosecution, Karadzic characterized his role in the conflict as one of a peacekeeper, who tried to reduce the causalities caused by the war. In particular, Karadzic cited alleged incidents where he proclaimed unilateral ceasefires, and accepted four of five peace agreements. Karadzic also defended the shelling of Sarajevo, stating that it was necessary and that 2,000 legitimate military targets existed within the city. Karadzic blamed foreign governments for the atrocities committed during the war, and the media for inventing the current charges against him. For more information, please 1. click here and 2. click here.
Final Yugoslav war crimes trial begins: On Tuesday, 16 October 2012, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia opened the trial of Goran Hadzic, the final trial set for the Court. Hadzic, the one-time leader of rebel Serbs during the Bosnian War, stands accused of crimes against humanity, persecution, deportation, and ethnic cleansing of non-Serb populations. In his opening statement, the Prosecutor characterized Hadzic as former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic’s “right hand man” in the latter’s plan to create an “ethnically pure” Serbian state carved out of Bosnian and Croatian territory in the former Yugoslavia. The Prosecution contends that Hadzic approved of the atrocities against non-Serb population committed by his rebel troops, and did nothing to stop them. Hadzic is the last of 161 individuals named as suspects in the crimes committed during the Bosnian War. Hadzic was arrested in 2011 after seven years at-large, and was subsequently extradited to the Hague for trial. For more information, please click here.
Libyan rebels accused of war crimes: On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch released its report on the toppling of Moammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya in October 2011, in which the humanitarian group suggested that rebels “summarily executed” scores of troops loyal to the regime. The report also suggested that these rebels may have also “summarily executed” Gaddafi himself. To date, the report on the final battle in Sirte where Gaddafi was captured is the most complete in details regarding what the group has characterized as war crimes committed by rebel troops. According to the report, the attack on Gaddafi and his troops—and their ultimate deaths—were in retaliation for a brutal weeks-long siege on the town of Misrata, where hundreds of residents were killed. Many of the surviving citizens became ardent supporters of the revolution, and the report suggests that Gaddafi’s ultimate execution was a “revenge” killing carried out by Misrata rebels. The group suggests that at least 66 people were killed in the fashion during the attack, and cite video footage taken shortly after the attack in which Gaddafi, his son, and members of the military are seen alive, their bodies only to wind up in a makeshift morgue a few hours later. Human Rights Watch’s findings call into question Libyan authorities’ assertions that Gaddafi and his soldiers died in crossfire. Former members of Libyan rebel groups, however, deny that the ex-dictator and his entourage were executed.
Sept. 11 defendants cooperative as case resumes: Five individuals accused of planning and assisting the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon largely cooperated with the Court as their military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay resumed, although the much-delayed case is still in pre-trial. The behavior of the defendants was in marked contrast to earlier proceedings, in which some of the defendants refused to cooperate with court-appointed translators and refused to answer the presiding judge’s questions. During the Monday hearing, which dealt with pre-trial motions and is expected to continue throughout the week, the defendants worked directly with Court translators, and replied to any questions directed to them by the judge. During the proceeding, in response to defense motions, the judge also ruled that three of the defendants did not have attend every day of their hearing this week, although they will have to attend the formal trial and possibly future pre-trial proceedings. The judge also ruled that the defendants may wear camouflage gear, which had previously been banned by the prison commander. For more information, please click here.
ICC victims lawyer quits over ruling: Morris Anyah, the lawyer representing victims in deputy Prime Minister of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta’s ICC trial, announced Monday that he will not continue to provide legal assistance to victims during the trial. Anyah’s resignation comes in response to a ruling made earlier in October by the Court, in which the presiding judges ruled that the ICC’s Office of Public Council for Victims—rather than the victims’ lawyers—would take over representation of the victims in the courtroom. Under the decision, the victims’ lawyers are regarded as their “point of contact” to formulate their views and concerns, but the actual trial representation would be handled by the OPCV. Victims’ lawyers are also required to be based primarily in Kenya. The judges had also ordered a re-organization of the way in which victims’ claims are to be handled in the case; namely, unlike in other tribunals, only victims who plan on actually appearing individually in the courtroom physically or by video need make an application to the Court; other victims are to be handled through a more informal registration system. In light of these rulings, Anyah released a statement saying that he did not believe that he would be able to afford to the victims representation and advocacy necessary to advance their interests, and would instead be resigning. He stated however that he would ensure that the legal and other interests of his clients would continue to be met during the transition to representation by new counsel.
Canadian Guantanamo detainee held since age 15 returned to Canada: The youngest detainee to be held at Guantanamo Bay, Omar Khadr, has been released from the US’s detention facility in Cuba and flown to his native Canada. Khadr was detained in 2002 at the age of 15 where he was charged with murder in violation of the law of war, attempted murder in violation of the law of war, conspiracy, providing material support for terrorism, and spying after he killed an American soldier in Afghanistan. The US military tribunal in Guantanamo bay sentenced Khadr to 40 years in prison, but due to his guilty plea and a plea deal his sentence was reduced to 8 years which will be served in a maximum security prison in Canada.
Ivory Coast will to amend Constitution to allow ratification of the Rome Statute: The Ivory Coast has announced that it will make the necessary revisions to its Constitution in order to allow for the ratification of the ICC’s Rome Statute. A cabinet statement said that some provisions of the country’s Constitution are not in conformity with the Rome Statute and must be amended before the Rome Statute can be ratified. Once amended, this will allow current President Alassane Ouattara to ratify the statute. Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo is currently in detention in The Hague awaiting trial before the ICC for crimes as a result of Presidential election violence. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
UN HR Council renews mandate of independent expert on the situation in Sudan: On Friday at the 22nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, it was decided that the mandate of Mashood Baderin, the independent expert on the human rights situation in Sudan would be extended for one year under agenda item 10 of providing technical assistance. Following Sudan’s withdraw from candidacy for one of the five African seats on the Council, Sudan expected the Council to terminate the mandate of the independent expert. However, Sudan described the decision as a “victory” as the decision was made under agenda item 10 of technical assistance and not agenda item 4 of monitoring; which was advocated by some parties.
ICC criticizes Government of Kenya for frustrating investigations: On 11 September 2012, it is reported that the ICC’s head of the Prosecution’s department for jurisdiction, complementarity and cooperation Phakiso Mochochoko wrote a letter to Kenya Attorney General Githu Muigai stating that the Office of the Prosecutor “is getting tired of the government’s seemingly empty promises to act on long-standing requests”. The Prosecution expressed its frustration of the slow pace of the Government in processing the Prosecution’s requests for evidence. The Prosecution has sought to gain government documents that would aid their investigation; with some requests pending for up to a year.
Sambra defence lawyers complain of Lebanon’s non-cooperation: The Defence lawyers for STL accused Assad Sabra have complained to the Court that Lebanon has repeatedly ignored the request of the defence to assist the defence with materials that will help prepare for Sabra’s defence. The defence also complained of the Prosecution’s delay in disclosing materials. Sabra is one of four accused Hizbullah members whose trial in abstenia is scheduled to begin in March 2013.
Del Ponte to join Syria investigation as UNHRC extends mandate: On Friday Carla del Ponte, former prosecutor before the ICTY and ICTR, was named to join the UN team investigating war crimes committed in Syria. Del Ponte’s addition to the investigation is noted as showing the UN’s commitment to holding accountable those responsible for crimes committed during the conflict. Also on Friday, the UN Human Rights Council extended the mandate of the investigation for another six months. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here, and 2. click here).
ICC team investigates crimes in Mali: After ICC Prosecutor Fatou Besounda opened a preliminary investigation, at the request of the Mali government, into crimes committed by Islamic extremists occupying north Mali, a team of three ICC representatives visited Mali on Friday 31 August 2012. The ICC delegation visited to assess whether war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed following a coup in Bamako; the capital. The ICC delegation was led by mission chief Amady Ba, and the delegation met with Mali’s interim president Dioncounda Traore, prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra and the panel established to liaise with the ICC during the investigation.
New charges issued against Guantanamo detainee: On Wednesday 29 August 2012 the Pentagon announced that new charges have been issued against a Saudi detainee, and accused before the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal, for crimes stemming from an alleged Al-Qaida plot to blow up oil tankers near the Yemen coast. The detainee, Ahmad Al Darbi, who is accused of acting as a weapons instructor and meeting with Osama Bin Laden, is facing the six charges including conspiracy and aiding and abetting. Al Darbi could face life in prison if convicted.
Peruvian Court puts four military officers on trial for massacre: On Thursday 30 August 2012, a Peruvian court decided that four military officials must answer to charges of crimes against humanity as a result of the 1984 ‘Putis Massacre’ which killed 123 villagers. The court decided that the four General’s senior status and duties made it likely that they would have known about the massacre. In 2011 a public prosecutor from Ayacucho filed the charges against the Generals. The Court ruling was welcomed by rights activists in the region.
US Official criticizes UN for potential Sudanese membership in HR Council: On Monday 27 August 2012 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, head of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee made a statement on the potential nomination of Sudan onto the UN Human Rights Council. Ros-Lehtinen stated that “Allowing this genocidal dictatorship, which has killed thousands of its citizens, to serve on such a body is beyond hypocrisy, it is callous, dangerous, and tragic,” and that the UN has “surrendered to despots and rogue regimes as it allows the likes of Iran’s Ahmadinejad, Venezuela’s Chavez, and now Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir to corrupt the system and use it to further their own oppressive and despotic schemes. It is beyond apparent that the UN is broken.” Ros-Lehtinen’s comments are in response to Sudan’s uncontested nomination, along with the Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Gabon, Sierra Leone, to the five vacate African seats on the Council. (For additional news on this topic, please click here).
Libya refuses to cooperate with ICC surrender request: Libyan Justice Minister, Ali Ashour, has stated that Libya will not hand over Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to ICC custody despite a ruling from the ICC Chamber on 4 April 2012 ordering the Government of Libya to surrender Saif to ICC jurisdiction and cooperate with the ICC. The Justice Minister stated that Saif would be tried by Libyan Courts for the crimes of murder, rape and financial corruption and has denied that Saif’s rights under detention are being denied, or that Saif is being mistreated. The Government of Libya has stated the intention to file an official admissibility challenge with the ICC over the matter. (For additional news on this topic, please 1. click here, 2. click here, and 3. click here).
Sayedee Defence Counsel protest evidence admission: On Tuesday, 10 April 2012, lawyers for ICT accused Delwar Hossain Sayedee walked out of a Court session in protest after the Chamber ruled to include five volumes of foreign press reports which came from the Liberation War Museum. Defence Counsel argued that neither the Chamber nor Defence had been provided with copies of the evidence or given time to examine the new evidence. The Defence argued that inclusion of this evidence would prejudice the Defence. The Court was forced to adjourn and proceedings will continue on Monday 16 April. The accused, Sayedee, has been charged with 20 counts of war crimes before the ICT of Bangladesh and is the first accused before the Tribunal to proceed to the trial phase.
News organizations petition for Guantanamo hearing to be public: Several news organizations have petitioned the Guantanamo Bay military tribunal to allow media to be present if accused Abd al Rahim al Nashiri is allowed to testify as to mistreatment while in a CIA prison. The tribunal is set to hear three days of pretrial motions beginning on Wednesday 11 April, where the testimony of the accused may be heard. Abd al Rahim al Nashiri is a Saudi detainee who is being tried for allegations concerning his alleged involvement in the attack on the USS Cole which killed 17 US solidiers.
Mladic Trial set to start in May: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said Wednesday that it would delay the start date of proceedings against former Bosnian Serb Army leader Ratko Mladic. The Tribunal set the new date as 14 May, nearly two months after arguments were scheduled to begin. Prosecutors indicated last week they could call more than 400 witnesses in their case against Mladic. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
Sri Lanka Army to investigate war crimes: This week the Sri Lankan Army agreed to investigate alleged war crimes committed against Tamil Separatists, in response to growing international criticism. The move came after the conclusion and recommendation phase of the domestic Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. Human rights groups said the truth commission was “flawed,” as it was run primarily by senior government officials, while various governments said the proposals should immediately be implemented. The army investigations will address reports that some of the estimated 40,000 civilian casualties were at the hands of military forces.
Guantanamo Detainee to face charges for attempted Musharraf assassination: On Wednesday a Pentagon Official confirmed charges against a suspected Al Qaeda operative accused of trying to kill former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Majid Khan is charged with conspiracy, violating the laws of war, materially supporting terrorism, and spying, among other charges, for the attempted assassination and for other alleged plots with Al Qaeda. Khan faces an arraignment within thirty days at a military tribunal at Guantanamo, Cuba.
ICT of Bangladesh begins Azam Trial: This Wednesday the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal commenced trial against former Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ghulam Azam with its hearing of a bail application by defense counsel. The Tribunal has scheduled a confirmation of charges hearing for tomorrow, which defense submitted a motion to adjourn. After an afternoon adjournment, Chief Justice of the Tribunal Nizamul Huq said each of the submissions on behalf of Azam, as well as other formalities, would be considered tomorrow.
ICTR names new President, Judge Vagn Joensen: A spokesperson for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda announced Monday that Judge Vagn Joensen would take over as President of the Tribunal. Judge Joensen has been a judge with the ICTR since 2007 and was elected the Tribunal’s Vice President in 2011. He will assume the Presidency when current President Khalida Rachid Khan joins the ICTR Appeals Chamber in The Hague on 2 March. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
AU to seek advisory opinion from ICJ: Following the AU Summit at the end of January, the AU will seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ over the issue of immunity for state officials under international law. The advisory opinion is prompted by the ICC’s decision that head of state immunity does not apply to warrants issued by the ICC. The AU believes that the ICC should not be allowed to remove immunity from sitting state officials who are not parties to the Rome Statute.
Sri Lanka urged to implement recommendations: The US has urged Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations made in the 6 December 2011 Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report. The LLRC is a presidentially appointed commission created to probe war conduct and possibilities for reconciliation following a 25 year war in the country. The US stated that it will also urge Sri Lanka towards the recommendations made in the LLRC report at the UN conference next month. (For additional news on this topic, please click here).
Spanish Court rejects bribery charge against Garzon: On Monday 13 February 2012, the Supreme Court of Spain has decided to throw out the charge of bribery against Judge Baltasar Garzon. This decision comes after the Supreme Court last week found Judge Garzon guilty of ordering illegal wire tapping of lawyers’ conversations, resulting in the disbarment of the Judge. Of the three cases against Judge Garzon, a decision on the third case is still outstanding. The case of whether Judge Garzon violated an amnesty law by ordering an investigation of crimes committed during the Franco era is still to be determined.
Mail inspectors held to confidentiality at Guantanamo: Last week Judge Army Colonel Jame Pohl of the military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay issued an order threatening contempt of court for any mail inspector who discloses the contents of the communication between the Guantanamo detainees and their military and civilian lawyers without authorization. In a decision given law month, the tribunal created a rule which allowed confidential communication between the lawyers and their clients to be monitored. Defense lawyers complained that the rule exposed trial strategy and violated the accused’s right to a fair trial.
Date for Tolimir closing arguments set: The ICTR has stated that closing arguments in the trial against Zdravko Tolimir will be heard in August with the Prosecution giving their closing speeches on 21 August 2012 and the Defence giving closing speeches on 22 August 2012. The Bosnian Serb ex-general of Mladic’s army is charged with genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Prosecution supports amicus applications at ICTR: The Prosecution of the ICTR has supported two victims’ rights groups, Ibuka and Survivors’ Fund, in their application to submit observations to the Court on what they perceive as inadequate sentences against convicted Nzuwonemeye, Sagahutu, Bizimungu and Ndindiliyimana. The Prosecution stated that the two victims’ groups were in the position to assist the Chamber with their observations because the “victims’ collective voice was lacking” during the trial and sentencing proceedings and the groups could assist with determining appropriate sentence due to the nature of the crimes that caused mass killing and suffering.
Sudan will continue relations with Kenya in face of Bashir warrant: On 12 January 2012, Sudanese ambassador to Kenya Kamal Ismail Saeed stated that Sudan will continue to engaged in and foster bilateral relations with Kenya regardless of the Kenyan High Court decision to issue a warrant against Sudanese President Bashir. Saeed said the two countries have enjoyed excellent relations over the past decades. Saeed said these relationship would be bolstered further and credited Kenya for its mediation role for the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. The Kenya warrant against Bashir is currently being appealed.
Defense Counsel instructed not to follow Guantanamo tribunal new rule: Marine Col. Jeffrey Colwell, Chief Defense Counsel of the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal has instructed more than 100 military and civil lawyers not to follow a new rule which subjects legal mail to be reviewed. Colwell states that the new rule violates attorney client privilege. Prison commander, Rear Adm. David Woods, issued the new rule last month in order to ensure detainees do not receive contraband or material posing a threat to security.
Netherlands to pay for ICC building until end of year: The Netherland’s foreign minister Uri Rosenthal has stated that though the rental agreement in which the Netherlands pays the rent of the current ICC building will expire in July, the Netherlands will continue to pay the rental expenses until the end of 2012. The expiration of the rental agreement ends a ten year agreement to pay building expenses which began at the Court’s creation, but the ICC’s new building is not to be completed until 2015.
Revision of ICTR Bagosora trial called by Rwandan MP: Evariste Kalisa, the Rwandan Deputy Speaker of Parliament has called for a revision of Col Theoneste Bagosora trial before the ICTR. Kalisa states that a report by French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux, shows that the shooters of the plane which carried President Juvenal Habyarimana originated from the military base where Bagosora was in command.
Libya expects ICC to validate Saif’s trial in Libya: Libyan Minister of Justice Ali Humaida Ashour has stated that he expects the ICC will accept that Libya is willing and able to properly try Saif Gaddafi in Libya. Humaida stated that the Libyan judiciary has jurisdiction over a trial of Saif and the ICC should only compliment this jurisdiction. Though ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, stated in November that Libya may try Saif, the ICC Pre-Trial Chambers announced that this decision is for the Chamber to make after Libya has submitted a formal challenge on the ICC’s admissibility and jurisdiction.
Senegalese Court rejects Habre’s extradition to Belgium: On Wednesday, 11 January 2012 the Appeals Court of Senegal rejected the extradition of former Chadian President Hissene Habre. The Appeals Court cited technicalities in the format of the extradition request as the reason for the decision. Belgium may still file another extradition request to the Senegalese Court.