Archive for category Human Rights Violations
Mladic Prosecution Team concludes: On Monday 24 February, the Prosecution in the Mladic case has filed notice announcing that it will rest. On March 17, 98-bis will begin, in which the accused can seek an acquittal on all counts on the grounds that there is no evidence to support a conviction. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (ICTY, IWPR).
HRW reports war crimes in South Sudan: HRW has announced that pro and antigovernment forces are responsible for serious abuses in South Sudan that may amount to war crimes. There have been episodes of widespread killing and the targeting of civilians for military strategic gain. (HRW).
UN, International leaders meet regarding Ukraine: UN officials are concerned amid the growing tensions in the Crimea region of Ukraine. The Secretary-General has that all parties involved calm down in hopes of preventing a future escalation in violence. (UN News).
Ukrainian Parliament calls for ICC involvement: Ukrainian lawmakers have voted to refer the case of the of former President Viktor Yanukovych to the ICC. The ICC says it has not received a formal request as of yet, but a government can make a declaration accepting the court’s jurisdiction for past events. (DW).
UN concerned over extended violence in Libya: The UN has called for an end to the violence in Libya. UNSMIL has been supporting the efforts of the Libyan Government and the people to ensure the success of the democratic process in the country but episodes of violence threaten the regions stability. (UN News).
Ukrainian Parliament votes to send ousted President Yanukovich and two others to the ICC: On Tuesday 25 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to refer ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka to the International Criminal Court to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ regarding the death of over a hundred Ukrainian citizens and injury of over 2,000 during recent protests. The Parliament said that Yanukovich and other high level people should be held criminally responsible for “issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders.” The ICC stated on Tuesday that no request had been received yet from the Ukrainian Government. The Ukraine is not a member of the Rome Statute but Ukraine could make a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute referring jurisdiction to the Court for the incidents. Yanukovich is currently at large after fleeing last Friday, 21 February. (The Star)
ICC preliminary examination analysizes Nigeria’s efforts to deal with Boko Haram: On Monday 24 February 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressed Nigerian State House correspondents in Abuja in order to explain that as part of the ICC’s preliminary examination into crimes committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Prosecution will be evaluating what efforts the Nigerian Government has taken to address the Boko Haram insurgency. This includes what judicial steps have been taken to bring justice to crimes committed by Boko Haram. The Prosecutor explained that a preliminary examination is not a formal investigation before the Court, which requires the approval of the Chambers, and must examine issues of complementarity. (Channels)
ICC Prosecution seeks to appeal Ruto’s excusal from presence in trial: The ICC Prosecution has sought leave to appeal a recent decision by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to again conditionally excuse ICC accused, William Ruto, from continuous presence during the trial proceedings against him in The Hague. The Prosecution has sought to appeal the decision in order to challenge whether interpreting Rule 134 as providing a basis to approve Ruto’s excusal is in contradiction with the Rome Statute; particularly Articles 63(1), 21(3) and 27(1) of the Statute. (Capital FM News)
Victims lawyer blames Kenyan AG for inaction on requests for evidence: ICC Victims’ lawyer in the case against President Kenyatta, Fergal Gaynor, has stated that terminating the case against President Kenyatta would be “unconscionable” in light of the Government’s inaction with requests to access evidence. Gaynor made submissions to the ICC Trial Chamber complaining of Attorney General of Kenya Githu Muigai’s inaction with requests for evidence – noting in particular the fact that Muigai took no action against an order which barred the interviewing of security officials who could provide evidence, and did not seek to appeal the order. Gaynor said the actions of the Government and AG are not in line with the International Crimes Act and the Rome Statute. (All Africa)
Haiti Appeals Chamber reopens investigations into former leader Duvalier for CAH and HR violations: On 20 February 2014, the Haitian Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by an investigative judge who formerly found that Haiti’s former leader Jean-Claude Duvalier could not be charged with crimes against humanity including forced disappearance and torture. The Court of Appeals found that there is substantial evidence to believe that Duvalier was indirectly involved in the crimes and criminally responsible, and has therefore appointed a sitting judge to further investigate the allegations. The Court of Appeals further found that there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity. Amnesty International welcomed the decision and stated that it was a victory for victims of the crimes. (National News Agency of Malaysia)
ICC to decide on witnesses refusing to testify in Ruto case: The trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang before the ICC continued on Monday, 17 February 2014, but several witnesses have refused to testify, an issue the judges are expected to rule on this week. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to summon seven witnesses, whom she alleges have refused to testify due to bribery, whereas Attorney General Githu Muigai argued that the Court cannot compel testimony. So far, 10 witnesses have testified. (The Star).
Genocide survivors outraged by ICTR acquittals: A Rwandan genocide survivors’ association declared the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s 11 February 2014 acquittal of two former army officers of charges related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be an “outrageous” decision and a “denial of justice.” Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was acquitted because his alleged role in the assassination of the Prime Minister and killing of 10 Belgian UN Blue Helmets had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was acquitted because the Court ruled that he had not had effective authority over subordinates who had been abused. In both cases, the Appeals Chamber found errors in the assessments of the Trial Chamber. The sentence of a third officer, Innocent Sagahutu, was reduced from 20 to 15 years because the Court found that he had not ordered the killing of two Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers. The Court also said that it would deliver a decision concerning the sentence of former army chief Augustin Bizimungu at a later date. (For more information on this topic, please click here and here). (AFP, ICTR, AllAfrica).
ICTY Accused, Milan Lukić, transferred to Estonia to serve sentence: Milan Lukić, who was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY in 2009 for having committed crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of warfare, a conviction that was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber in 2012, has been transferred to Estonia, where he will serve out his sentence. (in Serbia).
Parties prepare final submissions after confirmation hearing concludes in Ntaganda case: Following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Bosco Ntaganda before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, both sides are preparing final written submissions. The Prosecutor and the Legal representatives of the victims have to turn in their submissions by 7 March 2014, and the Defense may reply to these submissions until 4 April 2014. The judges will decide whether to confirm the charges, decline to confirm the charges, or request further evidence within 60 days of receipt of the Defense’s written submission. Ntaganda is suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, DRC between September 2002 and September 2003, and the Pre-Trial Chamber II concluded the five-day hearing concerning these charges on 14 February, 2014. (ICC-CPI).
STL trial bring sense of justice as fifth accused is joined to case: On 14 February 2014, exactly nine years after the assassination of Rafic Hariri, mourners and friends of the former Lebanese Prime Minister were hopeful that the STL will bring those accused of the bombing to justice. Several days prior to the anniversary of Hariri’s death, on 11 February 2014, the STL had joined the case of a fifth alleged Hezbollah member to the trial of the four alleged members currently accused. (For more information, please click here) (The Daily Star).
UNHCR recommends international investigation into Sri Lanka war crimes: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international probe into the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the Liberation War. According to Pillay, the Sri Lankan government has consistently failed to address the human rights violations that occurred between 1972 and 2009. (The Daily Star).
UN Human Rights Panel reports widespread crimes in N. Korea: The UN mandated report released 17 February 2014 calls for urgent action to address the rights situation in N. Korea. According to the Commission there is no parallel in the contemporary world with regard to the atrocities that have occurred and continue today in N. Korea. The Commissioners state in the report that they will recommend referral of the situation in N. Korea to the ICC. (UN News).
UN Compensation Commission orders over $1bil in damages to Kuwait: The UNCC continues to order payments by the Iraqi government to the Kuwaiti government in order to compensate for the damages that occurred in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The claims can be brought on behalf of individuals, corporations, governments and international organizations. The funds are drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is financed by Iraqi oil exports. (UN News).
Uganda Leader suggests top LRA Commander may have been killed: The Ugandan defence minister has stated that the deputy of the LRA, Okot Odhiambo, may have been killed in a period of recent fighting. The ICC indicted Odhiambo in 2005 on charges of butchering and kidnapping civilians. (AFP).
HRW reports concern over domestic Gaddafi Trial: HRW has called for proper representation for Seif al-Islam as he stands trial for illegally trying to communicate with the outside world. The ICC has been critical of Libya’s efforts to try former Kadhafi officials in Libyan courts. Most officials agree that the guarantee of a fair trial may be limited. (AFP).
Former M23 Leader Ntaganda in confirmation of charges hearings this week: Ntaganda faces charges ranging from war crimes to crimes against humanity. These crimes allegedly occurred in the DRC between September 2002 and September 2003. Ntaganda said he wanted to be handed over to the ICC and now the ICC will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to formally charge him with the crimes alleged. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here). (ICC, Aljazeera, DW).
ICC Prosecutor initiates preliminary examination in CAR: The reported violence in CAR continues to rage amongst the Christian and Muslim population. The latest report of violence has sparked the interest of the ICC and it has agreed to open an informal preliminary examination into the crimes to determine whether a formal investigation will be considered pursuing by the Prosecutor. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here). (ICC, Reuters, UN).
Human Rights Council experts say war crimes committed by government and rebel forces in Syria: Six rapporteurs, independent experts appointed by the UNHRC, have reported that government and opposition forces are committing war crimes by impeding humanitarian relief and denying the civilian population from accessing basic health services. According to the experts there appears to be a disregard for human rights and humanitarian law on both sides of the war.
ICTY Prosecutor comments on reconsideration motion in Perišić case: On Monday, 3 February 2014, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that his Office requested that the ICTY Appeals Chamber reconsider its acquittal of Momčilo Perišić, the former Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, who had been convicted to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995. In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Prosecutor argued that the “specific direction” requirements on which the Appeals Chamber based the acquittal is incorrect and should be overturned. (ICTY).
Witness from explosive unit testified at STL: On Monday, 3 February 2014, Abdel-Badih al-Soussi, who was the manager of the explosives unit of the Internal Security Forces at the time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, testified before the STL. Although he had not gone to the crime scene immediately following the explosion, he had attended a meeting at the military court that afternoon, to which a member of the explosives bureau had brought car parts from the site. The judge ordered that the parts be examined and the site cordoned off to the public. Soussi testified that he did not ask that the car parts be returned to the crime scene, nor did the judge discuss during the meeting whether parts of the motorcade should be removed. (The Daily Star).
Judge replaced on Kenyatta Trial Chamber: Following a decision by the Presidency of the ICC, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson replaced Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Henderson is from Trinidad and Tobago, and was elected at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in November 2013. He will serve as a judge at the ICC until 10 March 2021. Judge Eboe-Osuji had excused himself from the trial. (ICC-CPI).
U.S. urged to suspend aid due to human rights violations in Egypt: On Monday, 3 February 2014, the Working Group on Egypt, as part of the NGO Human Rights First, released a statement that it had sent a letter to U.S. President Obama, urging his administration to cease sending aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government progresses in transitioning to a democracy and improves human rights conditions within the country. According to the NGO, depriving Egypt of aid until progress has been made sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not tolerate the human rights abuses that have occurred in Egypt, which are documented in a report the group recently released. (Human Rights First).
Former Bangladeshi Minister indicted for war crimes: On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 indicted Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya Party, on 16 charges of war crimes, including the commission of genocide. He and his group, the “Quaisar Bahini”, allegedly committed crimes against humanity in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria during the 1971 Liberation War. According to the prosecution, Quaisar had also served as a commander of the Rajakars, which was an auxiliary group of the former Pakistani army. The opening statement of the prosecution will be made on 4 March 2014. (Z News).
AU issues statement urging united front concerning ICC and Kenya, Sudan cases: In a statement issued Saturday, 1 February 2014, the AU expressed that it was not pleased with the UN Security Council’s refusal to defer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The AU encouraged all of its members to comply with AU decisions and stand together on this issue in order to defer the proceedings. Botswana is currently the only AU member state that has officially opposed the AU’s decision to challenge the ICC cases. (Sudan Tribune).
Kenyan High Court allows Barasa extradition to ICC: The Kenyan High Court has dismissed a petition submitted by journalist Walter Barasa arguing against his impending extradition. Barasa faces allegations of bribery in relation to the Ruto and President Kenyatta trial. It is alleged that Barasa engaged in trying to bribe witnesses to withdraw their testimony. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Chicago Tribune, Star).
Rwandan former intelligence chief to appear in Paris court: France has opened its doors to the prosecution of alleged human rights abusers who participated in the Rwandan genocide in French courts. There are currently 27 cases waiting to be tried. Many human rights advocates are celebrating this decision because they claim France has not participated to the extent other countries have in years past. (SeattlePI).
Kenyan Government invited to make submissions on assistance to ICC: The ICC has invited Kenyan officials to appear before the court and to share their insight into how Kenyan law may assist the ICC in ascertaining more witnesses for the ongoing Kenyatta case. It is likely that Attorney General Muigai will make the trip to the ICC in two weeks. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (Capital News, ICC).
Serbian political leader arrested for war crimes; protests in Kosovo: The leading Kosovo Serb politician, Oliver Ivanovic, has been arrested by the European Union Rule of Law Mission (EULEX) on suspicion of war crimes against ethnic Albanians. EULEX has the authority to handle sensitive cases that the local judiciary is unable to devote resources to. Demonstrators in Kosovo have expressed frustration over the arrest and are asking for Ivanovic to be released. For additional information on this topic, please click here) (BBC, World Bulletin).
AU calls on ICC to halt prosecutions against sitting heads of state: The AU is calling for solidarity in protest of ICC proceedings against sitting African presidents. AU members assert that Kenya and South Sudan need their presidents in place to avoid instances of instability and possible violence. (PressTV).
ICTY Appeals Chamber affirms Đorđević judgment but reduces sentence: On Monday, 27 January 2014, the ICTY Appeals Chamber affirmed Vlastimir Đorđević’s guilt for crimes committed against Kosovo Albanians in 1999. However, the Appeals Chamber also reduced his prison sentence from 27 to 18 years, because it reversed Đorđević’s convictions for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as certain findings of the Trial Chamber concerning Đorđević’s participation in a joint criminal enterprise (JCE). Đorđević was originally convicted in 2011 for having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity through his participation in a JCE. (ICTY).
Mladic refuses to testify in ICTY Karadzic case: On Tuesday, 28 January 2014, Ratko Mladic refused to testify at Radovan Karadzic’s case before the ICTY. He refused to take an oath, and referred to the Court as “satanic.” After answering Karadzic’s first question concerning the posts and dates of his military career, Mladic subsequently refused to answer questions, citing to his health and the possibility of self-incrimination. Karadzic is facing 11 charges, including allegedly committing genocide at Srebrenica during the Kosovo conflict. (BBC).
ICC Prosecution witness questioned on USAID actions in Kenya: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto’s defense counsel Karim Khan questioned witness 356 testifying before the ICC about whether the witness knew of American Ambassador to Kenya Michael Rannerberger “trying to get people to give evidence against Mr Ruto”. The question was part of the defense’s argument that NGOs funded by USAID had influenced witnesses to testify against Ruto by paying them, and that Ranneberger had traveled to the North Rift region in order to discourage people from supporting Ruto. The witness said that he was not aware of the ambassador’s travel and USAID’s funding. When asked, the witness also said that he had not been influenced to testify by the $20,000 he received from the ICC’s Victims and Witnesses Unit. Khan asked further questions in a private session. (For additional information about this topic, please click here) (Kenya Monitor, Standard Media).
Lebanese firefighter testifies at STL about Hariri bombing scene: On Monday, 27 January 2014, Khaled Tubaily, a Lebanese firefighter who was one of the first to arrive at the site in Beirut where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a bomb, testified before the STL. He said that “volcanoes of fire” were erupting from the site, and that the damage reached as far as 4 kilometers away, which will help the prosecution in asserting that the bombing occurred above ground, whereas defense lawyers have stated that the explosion was likely underground. Five Hezbollah members have been indicted for the 14 February 2005 attack. (The Daily Star).
HRW Report criticizes Kenya’s protection of human rights and culture of impunity: Kenya has rejected a recent report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW), which criticizes Kenya for failing to properly address impunity, citing to the country’s failure to address the 2007-2008 post-election violence. Specifically, the report points to the government’s lack of support for the trials of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto before the ICC. The report also criticizes slow reforms in the Kenyan police force, which allegedly unlawfully tortured and killed 120 individuals between May and August 2013. Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs labeled the report as “outrageous and incomprehensible” and asserted that Kenya is complying with international law and that the allegations of force used by the police were based on security actions taken years ago. (Sabahi).
Resolution passed by Sri Lanka council on international investigation into war crimes: On Monday, 27 January 2014, two months before UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay will deliver a report concerning the Sri Lankan government’s progress in addressing war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War before the UN Human Rights Council, passed a resolution for an international probe into these alleged war crimes. Specifically, the resolution calls for an inquiry into the “ethnic cleansing” that allegedly took place and rejects Sri Lanka’s national inquiry mechanism in favor of an international inquiry.
Former Peruvian Government cleared of CAH for forced sterilization: Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was cleared of the allegation that he and his cabinet forcibly sterilized about 300,000 indigenous women as part of a national program in order to reduce birth rates in poor, rural areas of Peru during his term in office. The prosecutor, who interviewed women affected by the procedures, determined that Fujimori had not committed crimes against humanity and that the women had not been coerced into undergoing sterilization procedures. Multiple human rights groups had urged the government to prosecute the cases of about 2,000 women affected by the procedures, and in 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights directed Peru to investigate the death of a woman who had undergone such a sterilization procedure. (Chicago Tribune).
Uganda skeptical of success of Kony talks: A telephone call which was supposed to occur between Ugandan official Henry Okello-Oryem and Joseph Kony has failed to materialize. Kony sent a letter to government officials in an apparent effort to ask for forgiveness and to an end to the violence in Uganda. Officials are skeptical that a serious rebel leader would ever be willing to sit down to discuss peace. (BBC).
Mladic expected to give testimony in Karadzic trial: Mladic has been called to give evidence as a reluctant witness for the defense at the ongoing ICTY hearing. Mladic has consistently refused to testify on the basis of self-incrimination. However, if he does testify Karadzic will be hoping that his evidence will undermine the prosecution’s charge that there was a partnership between the two men during the war. (Irish Times).
UN highlights ongoing crimes by pro-Assad and rebel forces in Syria: U.N. war crimes experts continue to discover and document evidence of torture and killings on both sides of the war in Syria. The same experts are growing more certain that they will be able to build a case that could be taken to the ICC. (Reuters).
ICC delays Kenyatta trial following continued defense pleas: The ICC has delayed the start of the Kenyatta trial after prosecutors asked for more time to strengthen their case. The prosecution’s case has been on the verge of collapse since losing one of its witnesses in December of last year. (Reuters).
War Crimes division in Kenyan courts encounters delays: The delayed formation of the ICD has left Kenyans worried that it may never materialize. The Attorney General’s office has stated that it wants to confirm that the creation of the ICD is done correctly so it can effectively compliment the work that has already begun. (All Africa).
British foreign secretary rejects allegations of British officials committing war crimes in Iraq: William Hague, the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, dismissed the bid to prosecute British military members and politicians for war crimes allegedly committed against prisoners in Iraq. He stated that it was unnecessary for the ICC to investigate these allegations, adding that British officials did not systematically torture troops in Iraq. Individual cases, he said, are either being investigated or have already been addressed by European courts, public inquiries, or the historic abuses system. Abuse had been found in several cases, and apologies or compensation was given. The complaint, lodged with the ICC by several human rights groups, alleges that hundreds of Iraqi prisoners were subjected to war crimes between 2003 and 2008 at the hands of British officials. (The Guardian).
U.S. encourages Sri Lanka to investigate war crime allegations: On Sunday, 12 January 2014, the U.S. urged Sri Lanka to “seek the truth” concerning allegations of war crimes committed during the Sri Lankan Civil War, and to launch independent investigations. These statements were made after Stephen J. Rapp, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice at the Department of State, visited Sri Lanka, where he met with government officials and civil society members. He also heard eyewitness accounts of the conflict and the commission of human rights abuses during the war. The U.S. reiterated its commitment to assisting Sri Lanka in promoting peace and prosperity within the country. (Sunday Times).