Archive for category ICC

17 July 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sri Lanka brings in foreign experts to investigate war crimes: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to involve foreign experts in the country’s investigation of possible war crimes during its 26-year civil war. The Sri Lanka government said the purpose of the experts was to “double check what [the country] has found so far and to get some international backing.” The President’s decision follows intensified pressure from the international community for Sri Lanka to investigate and hold accountable those responsible for war crimes. (Reuters).

STL: German expert witness identifies fragments of “car that killed Hariri”: A prosecution witness at the Special Tribunal of Lebanon identified the parts of a vehicle involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The expert witness testified that the parts likely belonged to a Mitsubishi truck that was seen by cameras moments before the explosion that killed the Prime Minister. The defense, on the other hand, argued the explosion could have been the result of an underground bomb and have contested whether the vehicle from the camera was present during the time of the bombing. The Special Tribunal is currently trying five men in absentia for the assassination. (The Daily Star).

ICTY prosecution seeks rejection of Seselj’s damages claim: ICTY prosecutor Mathias Marcussen considers the detainment of Vojislav Seselj legal in light of the court order and indictment against the former Serbian leader for serious violations of international law. Seselj recently filed a 12 million euro damages claim against the ICTY for unlawful deprivation of liberty due to his nearly decade long detention. (InSerbia).

ICC names chamber that will hear Barasa case: Bulgaria’s Ekaterina Trendafilova, Italy’s Cuno Tarfusser and Belgium’s Christine Van den Wyngaert will preside over the ICC case against journalist Walter Barasa. Barasa is charged for witness interference related to the trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. (All Africa).

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14 July 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Banda Case scheduled to begin 18 November: Trial Chamber IV of the ICC scheduled the opening of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain on 18 November 2014. Banda faces three charges of war crimes allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan. (ICC).

ICC judges reject appeal for interim release in Bemba Trial: On 11 July 2014, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC read a summary of the judgments explaining why, after a thorough examination, it was decided to dismiss the appeal related to the rejection of interim release of Bemba. The dismissal was decided by was of a five judge majority. The two dissenting judges concluded that the matter should be remanded to the Pre-Trial Chamber for a new decision on the each of the suspect5s’ requests for interim release.

Seselj requests court compensation for lengthy detention: Former deputy prime minister of Serbia, Vojislav Seselj, has been in custody since he voluntarily turned himself over to authorities in 2003. Seselj’s trial began in 2006 and he is still awaiting a verdict. He has recently demanded 12 million euros as compensation for what he is calling an unlawful deprivation of his liberty as a result of his nearly decade long detention. (Irish Times).

Security Council, Secretary General call for Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire: The UN Security Council called for a cease fire between the Israelis and Palestinians on 12 July 2014. The Security Council would like to see an immediate de-escalation of the current violence and for both parties to respect international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here).  (UN News).

UN Rapporteur condemns ongoing violence against women in Honduras: An independent UN human rights expert has called on the Government of Honduras to address the ongoing violence currently affecting a large population of Honduran women. Honduras is currently in a state of transition and violence against women is on the rise. Such a combination has lead to a lack of resources for victims and a incident underreporting. The report created by the UN expert will be presented to the Council in June 2015. (UN News).

ICC allows Kenyan Human Rights Commission Report on 2007-08 violence: The KNCHR is a controversial document which contains information related to the 2007-08 post-election violence. The report was introduced by Prosecutor Anton Steynberg and tabled at the Waki commission. Transcripts that were used in the preparation of the report were also admitted. (All Africa).

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3 July 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

African leaders vote to give themselves immunity from war crimes charges: On Friday, 29 June 2014, African leaders voted to amend the Protocol on the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to give themselves and other senior officials immunity from war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The amendment, made at an AU summit in Equatorial Guinea, was objected to by forty-two African and international human rights groups who found the immunity violated international law, domestic law and the AU Constitution. Amnesty International considers the amendment “a backward step in the fight against impunity and a betrayal of victims of serious violations of human rights.” (Aljazeera America).

Afewerki reported in Sweden for crimes against humanity: Several high level officials in Eritrea have been reported to the Sweden police for crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report targets Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and some of his ministers by name and lists a series of crimes including indefinite imprisonment without trial, torture, kidnapping, mandatory military service and severe restrictions of freedom of expression. It is estimated that over 3,000 people, about 6% of the entire population, have fled Eritrea because of the human rights abuses. (Asmarino).

Related: Sweden ratifies portion of Rome Statute as national law: On 1 July 2014, the founding statute of the ICC became part of the Swedish penal code. This means, Swedish judges will now have the authority to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide regardless of who or where the crime was committed. Christer Engelhardt, a current MP, said “We are very clear about this: you will be punished, and if you come here, you won’t feel safe [if you have committed such crimes] just because Sweden is an open and democratic country.” (Epoch Times).

Dissenting judge in Kenyatta, Ruto cases resigns for health reasons: German Judge Hans-Peter Kaul resigned from the ICC for health reasons, effective Tuesday, 1 July 2014.  Judge Kaul was elected to the Court in February 2003 and served 11 years. Judge Kaul dissented three times in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto finding the ICC lacked jurisdiction.  (All Africa).

Serbian government prepared to provide guarantees to Hague for provisional release of Seselj: So long as the former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj agrees in a legally binding manner to abide by all conditions specified, the Serbian government is prepared to provide guarantees for his provisional release. Seselj notified the ICTY in June that if provisionally released he would be participating in public meetings, giving interviews and appearing on television shows. The former leader said he would not report to the police or wear any electronic bracelet or other device that violated human dignity. (InSerbia).

AU elects four new judges to Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights: Representatives from AU member states elected four new judges to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Tunisia’s Rafaa Ben Achour, Mozambique’s Angelo Vasco Matusse, Cote D’Ivoire’s Sylvain Ore and Uganda’s Solomy Baling Bossa will be sworn in at the Court to replace retiring judges or those judges whose terms have expired. The Court has been ratified by 27 countries. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

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30 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Judge departs for health reasons:  Judge Hans-Peter Kaul has resigned from the ICC for health reasons.  Judge Kaul served as an ICC Judge for 11 years and was fundamental in the development of the ICC.  His resignation will take effect on 1 July 2014.  (ICC).

Prosecution and Defence in Katanga Trial abandon appeals:  The decision in The Prosecutor v. Germain Katagna.  The judgment is not final.  The decision made by the Defence for Germain Katanga and the Office of the Prosecutor to discontinue their appeals against the judgment of Trial Chamber II of the ICC on 25 June 2014.  (ICC).

UN Human Rights Office alarmed by Venezuela violence:  Continued reports of human rights violations reportedly taking place in Venezuela is of concern to the UN.  National human rights organizations estimate that more that 3,120 people were detained between February and May 2014.  The High Commissioner has called for Venezuelan authorities to respect the rights of those citizen involved in peaceful demonstrations.  The High Commissioner has also renewed his calls on the Government of Venezuela to accept all visit requests by UN experts.  (UN News).

HRW implores ICC to investigate crimes in CAR:  The CAR interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, formally asked the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation, acknowledging that Central African courts are not in a position to carry out necessary investigations.  The CAR has been in a state of acute crisis since 2013.  It is expected that the ICC prosecutor will accept the request.  (UN News).

ICTR affirms sentence against Bizimungu:  The ICTR unanimously affirmed the 30-year prison sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for his role in the 1994 genocide during which he called for the murder of minority Tutsis.  (Yahoo News).

 

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26 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ruto / Sang trial adjourns to July for final witness: On Tuesday, 24 June 2014, the ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang was adjourned due to the health of a prosecution witness. When the Court resumes in July, the prosecution may present additional witnesses depending on an Appeals Chamber decision. The prosecution sought the compelled testimony of eight witnesses who have refused to testify. (All Africa).

ICTY asks Netherlands and Serbia to comment on possible provisional release of Seselj: The Netherlands, as the host country of the ICTY, and the Serbian government have seven days to comment on guarantees for a possible provisional release of former Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj.  Specifically, Serbia must guarantee the former leader will be escorted by authorities at all times, including to his place of provisional release, upon his return to the Netherlands and for any movements for medical reasons. The Serbian government must also ensure Seselj is placed under house arrest and does not contact or influence victims or witnesses.  Lastly, Serbia must guarantee that the government can immediately arrest Seselj in the event he violates any of the conditions of provisional release. (InSerbia).

HRW calls for investigation into misreporting of human rights in Sudan by AU / UN: Human Rights Watch has urged the U.N. Security Council to conduct a thorough and independent investigation into alleged cover-ups and inaccurate reporting by African Union / U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. The call by Human Rights Watch comes two months after a report was published alleging peacekeepers failed to accurately report on the bombing of populated areas and the attacking of villages by the Sudanese government. While noting the dangerous situation peacekeepers face and the pressure from the government, a representative from Human Rights Watch nonetheless finds the accusations “devastating.” (Human Rights Watch).

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25 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Katanga Defence and Prosecution at the ICC withdraw appeals: Germain Katanga’s defence and the ICC Office of the Prosecutor have withdrawn their appeals against the Trial Chamber II judgment finding the Congolese militia leader guilty of crimes against humanity. Furthermore, neither Katanga’s defence nor the Office of the Prosecutor intend to appeal the Court’s May 2014, sentence of 12 years imprisonment. Katanga was convicted in March 2014, for arming soldiers after violence erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2003. The Trial Chamber’s judgment is now final. (ICC).

ICC Prosecution concludes preliminary examination into North Korea with no plan to pursue an official investigation of crimes: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced on Monday, 23 June 2014, that the preliminary examination into alleged war crimes in North Korea has concluded and that the Office of the Prosecutor will not open an official investigation. Bensouda found “no reasonable basis to initiate an investigation” into the 2010 sinking of South Korea’s Cheonan warship and the 2010 artillery attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. Bensouda noted, however, that the preliminary examination could be re-opened if new facts or evidence concerning the situation in North Korea become available. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (ICC, Expatica).

FIDH reports that war crimes and CAH committed in CAR: The International Federation for Human Rights released a report this week finding that the mainly-Muslim Seleka alliance and the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militia have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity against each other in the Central African Republic. Cited in the report is Mathias Morouba, vice-chairman of a Congolese rights group, who considers the attacks “a political and ethnic struggle for power, which has gradually taken on a religious dimension.” It is estimated in the report that since January 2013, some 3,000 have died and millions displaced as a result of the conflict. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (Global Post, iAfrica).

German Prosecutors file terrorism charges for joining Islamic group in Syria: Federal prosecutors in Germany have filed terrorism charges against 20-year-old Kreshnik B.  Kreshnik B. is charged with joining an Islamic group and participating in fighting in Syria. Kreshnik B. is also accused of conspiring to commit an attack after evidence showed he underwent weapons training and obtained a firearm. Kreshnik B. was arrested in Germany in December 2013. (KMPH).

HRW calls for special investigation by Mali Government into crimes committed on all sides: In a letter to Mali’s Minister of Justice Mohamed Ali Bathily, Human Rights Watch urged the Mali government to establish a special cell to investigate war crimes and other serious abuses committed by all sides during the 2012-2013 armed conflict. Human Rights Watch recommended the special investigation cell be located in the capital, Bamako, and consist of investigative judges, prosecutors and other court officials. Human Rights Watch considers a special investigation cell to be the “best and safest way to ensure fair and credible investigations.” (Human Rights Watch).

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19 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor urges Security Council action in Sudan: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council this week on Darfur. The Chief Prosecutor expressed concern over the failure to enforce arrest warrants and apprehend suspects. Bensouda urged the Security Council to take decisivie action and bring to justice those accused of crimes against humanity. Bensouda also called for an independent inquiry into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfar was engaged in manipulations and cover ups. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (UN News Centre, Reuters).

UN Human Rights Council reports ongoing crimes in Syria, Iraq: Human Rights Watch reviewed evidence, including satellite images over the city of Aleppo, from October 31, 2013, and April 2, 2014, that strongly suggest the Syrian government used barrel bombs and other weapons in attacks against civilians. Other evidence showed that armed groups opposed to the government used child soldiers and turned schools into military bases and prisons. Human Rights Watch requested the Commission of Inquiry to take steps to punish those responsible and prevent the serious violations of international law. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (Human Rights Watch, Reuters).

Sri Lankan Parliament votes against UN Investigation: A motion rejecting a U.N. investigation into crimes committed in Sri Lanka during its 26-year civil war was approved by the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. 144 out of 225 members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament found the investigation would be “detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and [would] erode[] the sovereignty, dignity and statute” of the country. The motion is not binding on a U.N. investigation. (Washington Post).

UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay concerned about war crimes in Iraq: Navi Pillay, the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, released a statement on Monday, 16 June 2014, finding the executions committed by Islamist militants in Iraq to “almost certainly amount[] to war crimes.” In the past week, the militants seized the northern part of the country and threatened further violence. Pillay condemned the shocking crimes carried out and called for immediate action. (Reuters).

Charles Taylor appeals for prison relocation: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has filed a motion with the Special Court for Sierra Leone arguing violations of his human rights for being sentenced to jail in the U.K. Taylor claims his family is unable to visit him in the U.K. and that it would be more “humane” for him to serve his sentence in Africa. The former Liberian President was convicted by the Special Court in 2012 for aiding rebels in Sierra Leone. (BBC).

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16 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Charges confirmed against Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo:  The ICC has ordered Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of Cote d’Ivoire, to stand trial.  Gbagbo has been accused of masterminding the murder and rape of demonstrators in Abidjan, between December 2010 and April 2011.  At lease 3,000 people were killed during this period of violence.  (ICC, NYT, Reuters).  (For additional information about this topic, please click here, here.)

Sri Lanka War Crimes investigative team announced:  Navi Pillay has announced that Sandra Beidas will be coordinating the investigative team charged with probing into allegations of mass killings during the Sri Lankan civil war.  Beidas appears to be a somewhat controversial pick because of her expulsion from a UN mission in South Sudan amidst allegations of writing false reports about the conduct of the South Sudanese military.  The Sri Lankan government has yet to determine whether to allow the UN teams presence in the country.

Libya will pay victims reparations for rape:  A decree was issued during the middle of next week recognizing the mass rapes perpetrated during the 2011 Libyan revolution as war crimes.  Libya will pay rape survivors reparations.  In addition, those victims harmed during the reign of the Qaddafi regime will as lobe eligible for the compensation.

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11 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC to explore consideration of rape, sexual violence as war crimes: The ICC prosecutor’s office issued a new policy paper last week providing guidance to the Court on how to deal with crimes related to rape and sexual assault committed in conflict. Specifically, the policy paper lays out a legal foundation on how the prosecutor’s office will include the relevant war crimes charges in cases and hold those accountable. ICC Chief Fatou Bensouda said, in a statement concerning the new policy paper, the “message to perpetrators and would-be perpetrators must be clear: sexual violence and gender-based crimes in conflict will neither be tolerated nor ignored at the ICC.” (Think Progress).

IACHR to hear extradition appeal from alleged DEA agent murderers: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will be hearing arguments in an extradition appeal by seven Colombian citizens accused of the murder of a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency agent last year. The seven Colombians were expected to be extradited to the United States to stand trial before the IACHR intervened in this appeal. The appeal claims the United States lacks jurisdiction as the accused are Colombian citizens and the crime was committed on Colombian territory. (Colombia Reports).

Dame Silvia Cartwright,New Zealand judge, named to Sri Lanka human rights probe: It is being reported that Dame Silvia Cartwright will be appointed to the U.N. panel charged with investigating human rights violations committed in Sri Lanka during its 26-year civil war. The panel is expected to begin a 10-month investigation in July 2014. Dame Cartwright was previously a judge at the ECCC. (Colombo Page).

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9 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC confirms charges against Bosco Ntaganda:  The ICC has confirmed 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity against Bosco Ntaganda.  The Prosecutor brought evidence of attempted murder, rape and sexual slavery that occurred in Congo’s Ituri district in 2002 and 2003 to the attention of the ICC.  HRW expresses the hopes of many other human rights organizations which is that this decision to charge one ranking official of the ICC will lead to many more.  (HRW).

CAR inquiry finds CAH and war crimes, but hesitates to affirm that genocide committed:  The latest inquiry into the violence in CAR appears to contradict earlier reports of ethnic cleansing.  The report states that anti-Muslim propaganda coming from non-Muslim quarters does no mean that genocide is being planned or that there is a conspiracy to commit genocide.  Amnesty International objects to the findings in the latest report and argues that the displacement and violence against Muslims sectarian in nature and evidence that a genocide or massive displacement is occurring.  (MWC News).

ICC decided to fund Saif Gaddafi legal team:  The ICC has made the decision to fund the defence of Saif Gaddafi as a way to increase his chances of obtaining a fair trial before the court.   It is likely that Gaddafi would be sentenced to death if found guilty by a court a Libya.  UK politicians and military figures have protested this action by the ICC.  (Telegraph).

Former Norwegian Minister willing to testify to crimes in Sri Lanka:  Erik Solheim, former international development minister for Norway, is prepared to give evidence before any recognized international tribunal detailing the atrocities he witnesses during the final months of the decades-long Sri Lankan conflict.  Solheim was involved in the brokered peace agreement that fell through in 2006.  (Mint).

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