Archive for category Human Rights Violations

14 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC brings al-Bashir complaint to UNSC:  The ICC has informed the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties about DRC’s noncooperation in the arrest and surrender of Omar Al Bashir.  The Chamber has referred the matter to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute with hopes that a decision on what measures should be taken will surface in the near future.  (ICC).

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi to stand trial in Tripoli Monday:  Concerns remain over the guarantee of fair trials for Gaddafi-era officials in Libya.  HRW has reported that the inmates in Libyan prisons are not receiving their basic due process rights.  The ICC has the authority to command Libyan authorities to cooperate with the court but such pressure to turn Saif al-Islam Gaddafi over to the ICC has been ignored thus far.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)  (HRW/The Guardian).

ICTY anticipated 98bis decision in Mladic Case:  17 March 2014, the Defence team for Rato Mladic orally presented its motion pursuant to Rule 98bis.  The Prosecution responded on 18 March 2014.  The pronouncement of the Trial Chamber’s decision on the Rule 98bis motion for acquittal is scheduled for 15 April 2014.  (ICTY).

Hadzic Witness unclear on past testimony:  The final prosecution witness to testify against Goran Hadzic told judges last week that he could not confirm the accuracy of his earlier testimony.  The witness told the Hadzic defence team that he could remember the meetings in Serbia which he had previously testified about, in which he and Hadzic allegedly received detailed instructions from the authorities in Belgrade, as well as equipment and arms.  Hadzic’s defence case is scheduled to begin on June 24.  (IWPR).

HRW advocates war crimes court in Kosovo:  Kosovo’s parliament is expected approve the establishment of a special court located abroad to try alleged war crimes committed during and after the 1998-1999 Kosovo War.  It is also expected that the Parliament will agree to extend the mandate of EULEX with hopes of brining individual accountability to past crimes.   However, even if the special court is allowed to process, there are concerns that the weak state of Kosovo’s current justice system may inhibit its effectiveness.  (HRW).

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7 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

French delegates suggest intent to refer Syria to ICC:  France is currently seeking to propose a Security Council resolution that would refer Syria to the ICC for the prosecution of war crimes.  Russia stands as the largest opposing force to any such resolution.  The process is still in its infancy and many officials have refused to comment on specifics.  (NYT).

Arguments conclude in Croatia-Serbia ICJ Case:  The Croatia-Serbia ICJ case began in 1999.  Since that time, Serbia has filed a countersuit against Croatia and would like to see the ICJ declare the Croatian armed forces’ 1995 action genocide against the Serbian people.  The Croatian team still claims that the Serbian forces were excessive in their use of force.  The final verdict may be announced by the end of this or early next year and may not be appealed.  (B92).

UN concerned over continued violence in CAR:  The UN human rights office has finished its preliminary investigation of the deadly events that took place on March 29 in Bangui, CAR.  It has been determined that Chadian soldiers killed some 30 civilians and wounded more than 300 in an indiscriminate attack on a market.  (UN News).

UN Secretary General commemorates 20-year anniversary of Rwanda Genocide:  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminds the international community that the atrocities that took place in Rwanda should not be forgotten and should not have occurred in the first place.  Monday’s commemoration is part of a series of events that aim to remember the people murdered in Rwanda and to unite the people of Rwanda.  (UN News).

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2 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC: Kenyatta trial postponed until 7 October: The ICC trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta has been postponed providing the Kenyan government additional time to disclose documents sought by the prosecution. The request by the President to terminate proceedings and the request by the prosecution to postpone the trial indefinitely were both denied by the Court. The postponement is the second for Kenyatta’s trial which is expected to resume 7 October 2014. (Voice of America).

ICC witness: Dogs and pigs fed on bodies of fallen during post-election violence in Kenya: On Monday, 31 March 2014, a prosecution witness in the ICC case against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang testified to events after the 2007 presidential election in Kenya. The witness said tired police officers failed to collect bodies killed during the violence that were then fed on by dogs and pigs. The witness also testified that members of the Kalenjin ethnic group identified, attacked and torched the homes of Kikuyus. (All Africa).

ICJ orders temporary stay on Japan’s Antarctic whaling program: The ICJ ruled on Monday, 31 March 2014, that Japan’s “killing, taking and treating of whales” in the Antarctic was not “for the purposes of scientific research”. The Court found that Japan’s program, which was designed to study the effects of commercial whaling on the species existence, hunted too large a number of whales and failed to consider non-lethal methods. The Court ordered a temporary stay until the country could redesign it’s whaling program to be more scientific rather than commercial. (The China Post).

Rights group warn of Sri Lanka backlash in wake of UNHRC resolution: The recently passed U.N. Human Rights Council resolution calling for an independent investigation into alleged abuses committed in Sri Lanka is likely to incite backlash against human rights activists; said groups such as Amnesty International and Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice. The rights groups fear Sri Lanka will respond to the U.N. resolution with intimidation and suppression towards those who disagree or challenge the government, citing as an example the arrests of two human rights activists last month in the country. Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa has publicly rejected the U.N. resolution and said it will deter national reconciliation. (CNN World).

Norway pledges $1 million to Khmer Rouge tribunal: The international side of the ECCC received a $1 million pledge from Norway on Tuesday, 1 April 2014. The Court welcomed the pledge and hopes it encourages other donations, particularly to the Cambodian side which is facing extreme shortages of funds for national salaries. The ECCC budget approved last month estimates the cash-strapped Court needs over $60 million to continue operations. (Voice of America).

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26 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

South Korea joins Japan and EU on draft resolution on North Korea human rights situation: On Sunday, 23 March 2014, South Korea, Japan and the European Union presented a draft resolution to the U.N. Human Rights Council concerning the alleged human rights abuses in North Korea. The draft resolution urged the U.N. to refer the “systematic, widespread and grave violations” of human rights to an “appropriate” international judicial body. Additionally, the resolution contained recommendations by a U.N. commission established in March 2013 to officially investigate for one year North Korea’s violations of international law. It is expected that the resolution will be voted on by the 47 states making up the U.N. Human Rights Council this week. (Yonhap News Agency).

African rights court hears first freedom of expression case: The first freedom of expression case commenced in the African Court on Human and People’s Rights on Thursday, 20 March 2014. The case came before the African rights court after journalist Lohé Issa Konate was convicted in Burkina Faso of, among other things, defamation and public insult for alleging in his newspaper the State Prosecutor was corrupt. Konate was sentenced to one year imprisonment, a hefty fine and publication of his newspaper was suspended for six months. Amici submissions in the African rights court case argue Konate was denied his right to freedom of expression and his punishment was disproportionate to the crime. A judgment is expected June 2014. (Southern Africa Litigation Centre).

UN report notes Syria’s non-compliance with resolution to permit free access to humanitarian aid: The U.N. released a 13-page report on Monday, 24 March 2014, detailing the Syrian government’s failure to comply with a February 2014 resolution authorizing free access to humanitarian aid. The report, delivered to the U.N. Security Council, described a “worsening” security situation in Syria and requested “an immediate end to violence and a negotiated political solution to the conflict.” The report estimates that 200 people are dying per day in the country and over 3.5 million are in need of humanitarian aid. (Ammon News).

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25 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN may seek special tribunal on North Korea as alternative to ICC: On Sunday, 23 March 2014, a diplomatic source revealed that the UN is considering creating a special court to try North Korean leaders who have committed human rights violations against North Korean citizens. This would serve as an alternative to referring the issue to the ICC, a decision that would likely be vetoed by China. The creation of a court would occur by majority vote in the UN General Assembly. (Yonhap News Agency).

Libya announces trial date for former Gaddafi officials: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Libya announced that on 14 April 2014, 37 high-level aides of Muammar Gaddafi will be tried in domestic proceedings. Among those to stand trial are Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and Saadi Gaddafi, the two sons of Muammar Gaddafi; Abdullah Senussi, the former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi; and dozens of former aides of Muammar Gaddafi. Al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Libya in February 2011. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC previously rejected admissibility of al-Saddafi’s case, and based on complementarity, decided that he should instead be tried by Libyan authorities. Furthermore, the Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the challenge to the admissibility of Al-Islam Gaddafi’s case, deciding that his case would be heard before the ICC. However, both decisions were appealed, the outcomes of which are outstanding. Both al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi have complained that their due process rights have been infringed, alleging that they have been denied access to counsel by the Libyan government. They have not been appointed counsel. On 6 March 2014, Saadi Gaddafi was extradited to Libya, and is now joined in the case to be heard before Libyan domestic courts. (Middle East Online).

US sends military planes to assist in hunt for LRA leader Kony: The U.S. will be sending military planes and additional special forces to Uganda this week in order to increase the search for LRA leader Joseph Kony. The U.S. is also offering a $5 million reward for Kony’s capture, and had previously sent forces to the area in 2011 to assist African troops in the search for Kony. The ICC has charged Kony with war crimes, and he is wanted for human rights abuses; namely, abducting children and forcing them to become child soldiers. (BBC).

Former Ivory Coast Youth Minister Goudé transferred to the ICC: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Charles Blé Goudé, the former Ivory Coast Youth Minister and former leader of the pro-Gbagbo militia group “Young Patriots”, was transferred from Ivory Coast to the ICC. He had been arrested and extradited to Ivory Coast on 17 January 2014. He is charged with committing four counts of crimes against humanity during the post-election violence in Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Narcisse Arido makes initital appearance for ICC contempt proceedings: On 20 March 2014, Narcisse Arido, who was wanted by the ICC for offenses against the administration of justice allegedly committed concerning the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, appeared for the first time before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC. Arido is charged with corruptly influenced ICC witnesses, of which he was informed during the appearance. The Defense was also present at the appearance, and Arido was represented by his lawyer. The determination of whether these charges will be confirmed or rejected will not be made on the basis of a hearing, but solely on the basis of the parties’ written submissions. (CPI-ICC).

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24 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ivory Coast transfers ICC suspect to The Hague:  The former youth leader of the “Young Patriots” and right-hand man of Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, Charles Ble Goude, has been transferred from Abidjan to the holding cells of the ICC. Ble Goude faces four counts of crimes against humanity which are alleged to have taken place during post-electoral violence in 2010-2011. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here.) (Aljazeera, Reuters, Google News).

Mladic Defense requests that two genocide charges be dropped:  The Mladic Defence and Prosecution teams have completed their Rule 98bis submissions. The Defence asked that two genocide counts be dismissed, as well as a variety of additional liabilities. Both teams now await an oral judgment on the Defence motion for acquittal. (ICTY).

ECCC denies Khieu Samphan trial delay request:  The request for a trial delay by Samphan was denied by the Tribunal. Samphan had wished that the trial be delayed until a verdict was reached in the first trial but in the effort of preserving the rights of the defendant, the Tribunal has denied the request. (VOA).

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17 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Former Rwanda soldier sentenced in France:  Pascal Simbikangwa was sentenced this Friday to a 25-year jail sentence.  Sambikangwa is a former army captain who rose to become a high level official in Rwanda’s intelligence services.  In 2008, he was arrested and accused of complicity in war crimes and genocide in which took place in 1994.  France’s special genocide unit is hopeful that this verdict will lead to smooth future prosecutions.  (Aljazeera).

Amnesty reports ongoing violence, civilian displacement in Darfur:  As violence is Darfur intensifies almost half a million people have been forced from their homes of the last year.  Eyewitnesses in the midst of the conflict have described large attacks carried out by armed militias against civilians.  (Amnesty).

UN sends rights monitors to Ukraine; Security Council fails to pass Crimea Resolution:  The UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution which urged countries not to recognize the results of this weekend’s referendum in Crimea.  In addition to this event, the UN has deployed a monitoring team to Ukraine to help establish facts surrounding alleged human rights violations.  For additional information on this topic, please click here)  (UN News).

Human Rights Council highlights ongoing plight of children in conflict:  Ongoing armed conflicts have made a number of countries, such as Syrian, making them very dangerous places to be a child.  SRSG Leila Zerrougui spoke in front of the HRC this past week highlighting that in Syria, South Sudan, CAR and in other countries children our being exploited and killed.  She also urged the HRC to take action in order to prevent the deprivation of lifesaving humanitarian assistance to children.  (UN News).

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11 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Dissenting opinion in Katanga Judgment alleges violations to accused’s rights: Following the ICC’s 7 March 2014 conviction of former Congolese warlord Germain Katanga as an accessory on one count of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes, Judge Christine van den Wyngaert wrote a dissent, arguing that Katanga’s fair trial rights had been violated and that he should be acquitted. Katanga was initially charged as a principal perpetrator under Article 25(3)(a), but the Chamber re-characterized the mode of liability after both parties had rested their case to view him as an accessory under Article 25(3)(d), the timing of which is the basis for Judge van den Wyngaert’s dissent that the defense was given insufficient time to respond to and build a case against the re-characterized mode of liability. Specifically, she argued that the Chamber’s communication of the factual and legal basis for the re-characterization was insufficient for the defense to properly prepare for this change, and that the communication was not specific enough to effectively inform Katanga of the charges pending against him. She also doubted that the “facts and circumstances” of the changes were within the charges the Pre-Trial chamber had confirmed. The dissent also referred to bias on the part of the majority. (International Justice Monitor, Los Angeles Times) (For more information, please click here). 

UN investigation launched to probe HR abuses in CAR: On Monday, 10 March 2014, the UN launched an investigation of human rights abuses in the Central African Republic, focusing specifically on reports of genocide in the area. The panel conducting the investigation consists of Bernard Acho Muna, a Cameroonian lawyer and former deputy chief prosecutor for the ICTR; Jorge Castaneda, a former Mexican foreign minister; and Fatimata M’Baye, a Mauritanian human rights lawyer. Muna expressed concern that Christian and Muslim hate propaganda will increase violence, but is hopeful that the investigations will serve to lessen conflict. The Security Council ordered the investigation in December 2013, instructing the panel to collect information and identify perpetrators for prosecution. (ABC News).

Ruto responds to Prosecution application on compulsory testimony of eight witnesses: In response to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s application for the Court to compel the appearance of eight witnesses in the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, Ruto’s lawyers argued that the witnesses’ testimony is irrelevant. They maintained that hostile witnesses would be unable to contribute to the Prosecution’s case and questioned the credibility of the witnesses, referring to one witness’s emotional and behavioral difficulties and the incongruity between that witness’s account and the testimony of another witness. They also asserted that the Court cannot compel a witness to appear, but simply to speak once the witness has appeared voluntarily. Bensouda argues that the Court has the power to compel a witness to both appear and speak, and maintains that the witnesses have been bribed or influenced improperly. (Standard).

Serbia begins defense arguments before ICJ: On Monday, 10 March 2014, Serbia presented its rebuttal in the genocide case Croatia brought against Serbia before the ICJ. Serbia, which filed a counterclaim against Croatia for genocide committed by Croatians against Serbs, alleged that Serbs are victims of genocide and that they also suffered during the Balkan Wars. The Defense expressed regret for the crimes committed in Croatia, but emphasized that the violence was not one-sided. The arguments for the countersuit will be presented in the coming days. (in Serbia).

AU establishes commission to investigation HR abuses and crimes committed in South Sudan: Following the outbreak of violence in South Sudan in December 2013, the African Union established a commission last week to investigate human rights violations and crimes committed during this period. The inquiry body was created through the Peace and Security Council (PSC) decision, and its purpose is to investigate the conflict and make recommendations to ensure accountability and reconciliation. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo will head the five-member panel. The conflict has lasted about 10 weeks, and it is estimated that 10,000 people have been killed and nearly one million displaced. (AllAfrica).

Thousands of Tamils in Geneva protest Sri Lankan rejection of international investigation: In response to the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to initiate an international probe into alleged war crimes, 4,000 Tamils gathered in Geneva on Monday, 10 March 2014 to protest the rejection. The protest took place around the UN headquarters, and was made during an annual session of the Human Rights Council, which will be asked later this month to evaluate an international draft resolution calling for a probe into the crimes committed against Tamils during the Sri Lankan Civil War. (Agence France-Presse).

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3 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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).

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25 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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)

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