Archive for category Human Rights Violations

25 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Concern expressed over possible war crimes by ISIS in Palmyra: On 21 May 2015, the EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini stated he was concerned over possible war crimes being committed in the ancient city of Palmyra after its seizure by Islamic State militants. Specifically, Mogherini said reports of IS militants conducting mass killings and deliberately destroying “archaeological and cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq” amounted to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the ICC. IS militants seized the ancient city during its campaign of “cultural cleansing” in which it destroys historical sites throughout ancient Mesopotamia. (Jurist).

ICTY grants Hadzic’s second provisional release: On Friday, 22 May 2015, it was reported that the ICTY granted former President of the Republic of Serbian Krajina Goran Hadzic a second provisional release to seek medical care for cancer.  The terms of this release are the same as the first, which includes constant police surveillance and no interaction with the public. Hadzic was granted his first provisional release last month but returned to the ICTY in early May for a medical check-up. (InSerbia).

US congressional caucus focuses on Sri Lanka accountability: The U.S. Congressional Caucus on Ethnic and Religious Freedom in Sri Lanka was briefed by human rights groups, such as International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, on Wednesday, 20 May 2015. Representatives from the Caucus urged the international community to stay involved in the situation in Sri Lanka and to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes. The representatives stressed the need for change and progress in Sri Lanka. (Tamil Guardian).

High Commissioner for HR says escalating violence in S. Sudan leading to gross violations: The escalating violence in South Sudan has resulted in “alarming gross violations” of international human rights law, said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in a press release issued 22 May 2015. The High Commissioner’s statements follow several recent weeks of intense conflict in South Sudan, with reports of widespread killings, rapes, abductions and destruction of towns.  The High Commissioner said “Such persistent impunity has left many with unresolved grievances that are easily mobilized for renewed violence and revenge attacks.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (UN News Centre, Office of the High Commissioner).

Amnesty report says war crimes on both sides in Ukraine: On Friday, 22 May 2015, Amnesty International released a report finding war crimes have and are being committed by both the Ukrainian government and separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Amnesty’s report consists of interviews by former captives of both warring sides and includes instances of beatings, torture and stabbings. A peace agreement between the Ukrainian government and separatist forces called for all war prisoners to be released by early March, although it is being reported little progress has been made. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (NY Times, Toronto Star).

ICC Prosecution application asks for testimony of recanted witnesses to be admitted: On Thursday, 21 May 2015, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested the Court to admit prior statements of witnesses who later recanted in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto. Bensouda argued the witnesses statements were highly relevant and were given prior to the witnesses being corrupted.  Bensourda said “The probative value of this evidence stems from its internal consistency, intrinsic reliability and – in general – its corroboration by evidence already on the record.” (Capital News).

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20 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC holds status conference for Ongwen case: On Tuesday, 19 May 2015, the ICC held a status conference relating to the case against Dominic Ogwen, a top Ugandan rebel leader in the Lord’s Resistance Army.  Ogwen, who faces charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed at a camp for internally displaced people in 2004, was present at the conference and represented by counsel. Ongwen’s confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for 21 January 2016. (NTV).

Sri Lankan President announce June start to war crime probe: Today, 20 May 2015, Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena announced that an investigation into war crimes committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war would begin by June. The President also encouraged guidance from the U.N. Human Rights Council on carrying out the investigation and vowed to prosecute those “found guilty by the investigation.”  Over 100,000 were killed during the conflict. (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (MalayMail, The Economic Times).

ICTR holds 25th plenary session; re-elects President: The 25th and final plenary session of the ICTR was held in The Hague on 13 May 2015. At this session, Rule 18(B) of the ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence was amended and ITCR President Judge Vagn Joensen was re-elected through 31 December 2015, the expected date of closure of the Tribunal. The ICTR has already begun transitioning power to the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals which was created to continue the residual functions of the ICTR and ICTY. (UN-ICTR).

Amnesty reports torture in Morocco:  Moroccan authorities are still using torture against those detained or expressing dissent; said Amnesty International in a report released Tuesday, 19 May 2015.  The findings of the report stemmed from interviews with over 150 men, women and children between 2010 and 2014.  Morocco has pledged for years to eliminate torture by authorities.  However, an Amnesty International director says “There is a gap between what’s on paper and what’s in practice.  Torture is not systematic but common.  The safeguards that exist currently are not being implemented.”  (NY Times).

Tunisian Truth Commission to address torture and other human rights abuses: On 19 May 2015, it was reported that Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission will be conducting public hearings beginning June 2015.  The hearings will address allegations of torture, mass killings and other human rights violations committed over a 60 year period, starting in 1955, while Tunisia was under authoritarian rule. Members of the Commission have visited towns to urge victims of the human rights abuses to file complaints.  The Commission does have the power to subpoena witnesses and government files. (NY Times).

Complaint filed with African Commission over death of protestors in Burundi: On 5 May 2015, a leading human rights lawyer from Nigeria, Femi Falana, filed a complaint against the government of Burundi in the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.  Falana claims the government fatally attacked civilians protesting President Pierre Nkurunziza’s plan to seek a third term of office.  Falana said this plan violates the constitution of Burundi, which imposes a two term limit on the office of president, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which guarantees life, personal liberty, freedom of expression, association and assembly.  Falana urged the African Commission to “ensure effective remedies for [these] multiple violations of the rights of the people of Burundi.” (the News Nigeria).

ICC AC admissibility decision on Simone Gbagbo to be delivered 27 May: The appeals decision on the admissibility of the case against Ivorian politician Simone Gbagbo is expected to be delivered 27 May 2015, said the ICC Appeals Chamber today, 20 May 2015. The Republic of Côte d’Ivoire appealed the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision rejecting an admissibility challenge to the case and reminding the country of its obligation to surrender Mrs. Gbagbo to the ICC.  Gbagbo is accused of murder, rape and other inhumane acts and persecution committed in the Ivory Coast between December 2010 and April 2011. (ICC).

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13 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Bensouda says ICC Prosecution considering investigation into ISIS crimes in Libya: On Tuesday, 12 May 2015, Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council that the ICC Prosecutor’s Office was considering opening investigations into crimes committed by Islamic State militants against civilians in Libya, noting the alleged crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC. The Chief Prosecutor stated, however, that the primary responsibility to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the alleged crimes rests with the individual states. Bensouda also addressed the ICC cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi. Bensouda said Libya remained in non-compliance with the ICC’s order to surrender Gaddafi to the Court and that the Prosecutor’s Office would continue to, and the Security Council is encourage to, put pressure on the country to comply with the request.  Regarding Al-Senussi, Bensouda stated that the Prosecutor’s Office reviewed evidence of the proceedings and concluded “it is not in possession of new facts that would fully satisfy it that the basis on which the case against Mr Al-Senussi had previously been found inadmissible before the ICC has been negated.” (For the transcript of Bensouda’s statement, please click here) (Reuters, Kasmir Watch).

US human rights record criticized at UNHRC review: Racial discrimination and police brutality in the U.S. were the main concerns voiced during the country’s second universal periodic review at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council on Monday, 11 May 2015.  Additionally, member states criticized the U.S. for its failure to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, the use of the death penalty, child labor, human trafficking and inadequate protection of migrant workers and indigenous peoples.  The member states also provided the U.S. with recommendations for improving its human rights record. (Aljazeera).

IACHR issues preliminary measures on violence against ethnic groups in Costa Rica: In accordance with a resolution by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Costa Rican government has until 15 May 2015 to adopt measures protecting the lives and personal integrity of the Bribri and Teribe ethnic groups.  The resolution also granted precautionary measures in favor of the Bribri community whose land has been illegally occupied by non-indigenous landowners and aims to safeguard the Teribe communit from ethnic violence. A University of Costa Rica law professor says the resolution and precautionary measures are an important first step in order to get the case before the IACHR.  (IPS News).

ICTY says incompetent to consider Seselj motion on disqualification and discipline of Brammertz: The ICTY Trial Chamber has found itself incompetent to consider Vojislav Seselj’s motion to disqualify and discipline ICTY Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz. The three member Trial Chamber also warned Seselj that any further remarks against the prosecutor that have already been investigated were an abuse of the proceedings. In April 2015, the former Serbian leader filed a complaint with the Trial Chamber accusing the chief prosecutor of obstruction of justice.  (InSerbia).

International Commission reports enough evidence to prosecute Assad and senior Syrian officials: The Commission for International Justice and Accountability reported that it has gathered enough evidence to prosecute Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and 24 senior officials in his regime for war crimes.  The Commission, who worked with 50 Syrian investigators that smuggled official documents out of the country during a three-year operation, says the evidence includes communications between senior officials ordering mass arrests and detentions. Prosecution cases have been prepared using the evidence collected in anticipation of the establishment of a war crimes tribunal in the future. (The Guardian).

ICTY Prosecutor begins mission to Sarajevo: ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz is in Sarajevo this week, 12 to 14 May 2015, in preparation for his six month report to the U.N. Security Council on the implementation of the ICTY’s Completion Strategy.  The Prosecutor is expected to meet with authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the High Judicial, the Prosecutorial Council and representatives of the international community.  Brammertz’s report to the U.N. Security Council is scheduled for early June 2015. (ICTY).

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12 May 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC’s first acquitted accused deported to DRC: Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, formerly accused of war crimes, was deported back to the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Monday. Chui was acquitted by the ICC and filed for asylum in the Netherlands for fear of safety in the DRC.  Dutch authorities dismissed his application and sent him back to the DRC. Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, stated that HRW is calling on the DRC authorities to ensure Chui’s safety and security in the DRC. HRW is also calling upon dutch authorities and the ICC to monitor the situation. (Expatica, Human Rights Watch) (for additional information click here)

HRW calls for ICC investigation into on-going crimes in Libya: Human Rights Watch urged the United Nations Security Council to look at ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda’s briefing on Libya. HRW called for an investigation into the ongoing crimes happening in Libya. HRW states that Libyan authorities have not responded properly to ongoing situation. They have not investigated or prosecuted those responsible for crimes. HRW is looking to the ICC to properly investigate these crimes. (Human Rights Watch)

ECCC victim representation faces funding cuts: Lawyers at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia have seen recent cuts in their salaries. Victim representation has seen major funding cuts due to  donor shortages. Attorneys from the Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP) and Legal Aid to Cambodia (LAC) stated that these cuts may dictate whether or not they continue representation of victims in the court. (Phnom Penh Post)

ICT Bangladesh issues 11 arrest warrants: ICT Bangladesh issued 11 arrest warrants for alleged Razakars of Jessore, for war crimes committed during the Liberation War in 1971. “The suspects are Ibrahim Hossain, Billal Hossain, Sheikh Majibur Rahman, Abdul Aziz Sardar, Aziz Sarder, Kazi Oahidul Islam, Lutfar Moral, Abdul Khaleq Moral, Akram Hossain, Ozehar Moral, and Mushiar Rahman.” (The Daily Star)

African Commission for HR’s 56th session concludes: The 56th Ordinary Session on Human and Peoples’ Rights concluded with resolutions that support “the strife against prevalence of human rights violations in Africa.” Commissioner Mute of the African Commission stated that the Commission passed resolutions that condemned xenophobic attacks in South Africa, urged Kenyan human rights, and rehabilitation rights for torture victims. (All Africa)

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17 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

STL begins contempt trial against Lebanese journalist and her TV station: Lebanese journalist, Karma Khayat, and her al-Jadeed TV station stand accused of obstruction of justice for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Khayat and the TV station both deny identifying witnesses or compromising the case against Hariri’s alleged killers. Khayat stated that that this is an attempt to silence the media when journalists in Lebanon have the same rights as those in the West. Khayat also stated that the list she published was redacted without identifying statements and a full list was published later by someone else. Prosecutor Kenneth Scott stated “If witnesses are too frightened to come to this tribunal, then this tribunal is finished.” (BBC, The Guardian, Daily Star) (for additional information click here and here)

Acquitted Ngudjolo Chui seeks asylum in Switzerland: Ngudjolo Chui, who was acquitted by the ICC, is now applying for asylum in Switzerland.  Chui is applying for asylum for fear of being deported from the Netherlands back to Kinshasa. After being acquitted by the ICC Trial Chamber and having the acquittal affirmed by the ICC Appeals Chamber, Chui was arrested by Dutch authorities immediately after the trial as he was leaving the courtroom. The Dutch authorities brought him straight to the airport to be deported back to the DRC and was forced onto a Kenya Airways passenger plane to Kinshasa. Chui had to assert certain things during his defense that now put his life at risk if he goes back to the DRC. Chui had asserted that in asylum applications to the Dutch authorities after his Trial Chamber acquittal.  As the plane was about to takeoff, an emergency order from a Dutch immigration judge to hear asylum arguments forced the plane to return to the terminal. Since then, Chui has been at the detention unit at the Schiphol Airport trying to sort out immigration issues and apply for a humanitarian visa. (Letemps)

UNSC hears accounts of chemical weapons use in Syria: The United Nations Security Council heard first-hand accounts of chemical weapons used in Syria on Thursday. Syrian doctor, Saher Sahloul, reported the use of chlorine gas in Idlib that left six dead. Qusai Zakarya, a victim of an attack in Ghouta in August of 2013 was also present. The UNSC considered whether action was needed to stop the attacks. Organizations like Human Rights Watch called for investigations into these attacks and alleged that they were war crimes. (News24)

Hadzic arrives in Serbia after ICTY grants provisional release: The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) granted a provisional release to former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic for cancer treatment on 13 April 2015. Hadzic stands accused of 14 alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 war in Croatia. Hadzic arrived in the Serbian capital on 16 April 2015 and was escorted by police to Novi Sad, where he will receive his cancer treatment. (Turkish Weekly)

US Senator indicates move to introduce CAH provision in US law: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin announced during his speech at Northwestern University School of Law that he intends to reintroduce Crimes Against Humanity legislation in Congress. Durbin stated a US law needs to be in place against crimes against humanity. (International Criminal Justice Today)

 

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16 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

STL hears opening statements in obstruction case against Khayat:  Karma Khayat and her TV station are accused of obstruction of justice in connection with reporting the events surrounding the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. The prosecution asserts that that Khayat and al-Jadeed deliberately set out to reveal the identities of witnesses who had been promised anonymity.  (For more information on this topic, please click here.)  (BBC, Reuters)

Kosovo Court sets framework for domestic war crimes court: Chapters 2 and 3 of the Kosovo Constitution have been affirmed.  Such amendments will effectively allow for the establishment of a war crimes court. The court will likely deal with war crimes committed by the now disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army.  (b92)

HRW highlights sexual violence as a “tactic of war”: Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has issued a report that urges the UN Security to “integrate attention to sexual violence into its monitoring and field visits to conflict-affected countries, and to take preventive steps and measures to ensure accountability, including sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court.”  A number of ongoing conflicts involve the use sexual violence as a way to terrorize civilian populations.  The secretary-general acknowledged the devastating effects such crimes have on victims and the under-reporting that generally occurs under such circumstances, thereby urging the Security Council to take a more active role in assisting victims and preventing crimes.  (HRW)

UN Leaders implore action to combat human rights violations linked to terrorism: Special Rapporteur, Ben Emmerson, acknowledges in a press release issued today that the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must be firmly established in any attempt to dispel terrorism forces.   The press release also suggests a lack of respect for the rights of those suspected of terrorism.  (UN News)

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14 April 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

10 former Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested in Bosnia over crimes from 1990s conflict: The 10 former Bosnian Serb soldiers arrested in December have been charged with war crimes that occurred during the 1990s Balkans conflict. The December arrests stemmed from a joint effort of Bosnia and Serbia to look into these matters. Five former Bosnian Serb soldiers were arrested in December by Serbia and the ten now charged with war crimes were arrested by Bosnia. (UT San DiegoABC News) (for additional information click here)

Appeals proceedings in ICTR Butare case to start: On Tuesday 21 April 2015, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) will start appeals proceedings for its last case. The case includes six members of Butare including former Family Affairs Minister Pauline Nyiramasuhuko. Nyiramasuhuko was sentenced to life in prison by the trial court for crimes against humanity in 2011. According to ICTR, judgement from the appeal will not be rendered earlier than August. This will mark the 14th year of this case and the 16th year that Nyiramasuhuko has been in preventive detention. (Hirondelle News)

Hadzic granted provisional release by ICTY for health issues:  The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) has granted a provisional release to former Croatian Serb rebel leader Goran Hadzic until May. Hadzic stands accused of 14 alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1991-95 war in Croatia. Hadzic was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in November and will receive radio and chemotherapy treatment. His request for a temporary release was initially denied by trial judge, but overturned on appeal for humanitarian reasons. (Expatica, InSerbia News) (for additional information click here)

AG calls Bensouda’s claim of Kenya’s possible non-cooperation defamatory: ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stands accused for defamation of Kenya by Attorney General Githu Muigai. Muigai states that Bensouda’s allegations that the Kenyan government refuses to cooperate with the court is defamatory. The prosecutor is attempting to get Kenya referred to the Assembly of State Parties and sanctioned. (All Africa News)

Bangladeshi Chairman of the Law Commission withdraws from ICC judge election: Bangladeshi Chairman of the Law Commission, ABM Khairul Haque, has withdrawn from the ICC judge election. Haque stated that he withdrew due to family concerns as his mother is elderly and ill. Haque also stated that this situation would not allow him to contribute six years to the ICC. (BDNews 24)

NGO group calls on Equitorial Guinea human rights violations to be investigated: Nongovernmental organizations sent a letter to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries on 31 March to assess the human rights situations in Equatorial Guinea and recommend reform. Human Rights Watch stated that an investigation should be launched into the human rights violation in Equatorial Guinea. According to Human Rights Watch freedom of speech, association, and assembly are limited in the country. (Human Rights Watch)

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