Archive for category ICC
ICC provides prosecution more time to build case against Gbago: On 3 June 2013, ICC judges announced that prosecutors would have until 15 November to further investigate former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbago. The judges ruled that the evidence submitted is not strong enough to merit a trial, but not weak enough to drop the charges. Gbago, the only ex-head of state to appear before the ICC, is charged with crimes against humanity for his role in the Ivory Coast’s 2010 post-election violence. They delay may harm the ICC’s credibility “after a string of collapsed prosecutions and criticisms from African leaders who accuse the court of targeting Africans.”
ICTY upholds Serbian leader’s contempt of court sentence: On 30 May 2013, the ICTY Appeals Chamber upheld Vojislav Šešelj’s two-year contempt of court conviction for failure to remove confidential information about witnesses from his website. Šešelj appealed that the Contempt Trial Chamber’s failure to provide him a case manager denied his right to a defense and fair trial. However, the Appeals Chamber ruled that, while the Trial Chamber failed to provide a reasoned opinion, the provision of a legal advisor made a case manager unnecessary. Šešelj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, is charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes against non-Serbs from 1991-1994.
Top Khmer Rouge leader apologizes for atrocities: On 30 May 2013, Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two” after former regime chief Pol Pot, accepted responsibility for the deaths of millions of Cambodians during the 1970s and apologized to victims. The 86-year old Chea testified at the UN-backed ECCC from his prison cell via video due to poor health. Khieu Samphan, another former Khmer Rouge leader on trial, denied any knowledge of the atrocities committed by the regime. The two men are charged with crimes against humanity and genocide—this is the first time either man has accepted responsibility for the crimes.
ICC denies warrant for former CAR president: On 3 June 2013, the ICC announced that it had not issued an arrest warrant for ex-Central African Republic President Francois Bozizé. This announcement followed the issuance of an international arrest warrant for Bozizé by the CAR’s chief prosecutor. The ICC denied that charges against Bozizé necessarily fell under the Court’s jurisdiction—but affirmed that it would continue to monitor developments in the CAR. Bozizé, who seized power in 2003 by coup, is wanted by the CAR for crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide
Ugandan Senator accuses President of dishonestly over ICC: On 3 June 2013, Ugandan Senator James Orengo criticized Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for his recent negative remarks about the ICC. Orengo pointed to the fact that Museveni has been a huge supporter of the ICC in the past—even hosting ICC conferences. Orengo opined that Museveni’s criticisms of the ICC are meant to solicit support to become the first President of the East African Federation.
Libya will appeal ICC’s admissibility decision regarding Saif: Libya announced this week that it would file an official appeal against the International Criminal Court’s decision of 31 May 2013 which rejected Libya’s admissibility challenge and reminded Libya of its obligation to surrender Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi to the ICC. At a joint news conference on Sunday 2 June, Libya’s Prime Minister Al Zeidan and Justice Minister Salah al-Marghani stated that an official appeal would be lodged with the ICC and that ”a team of Libyan and international experts are discussing the preparation of the appeal.” The ICC, in its admissibility decision, said Libya had not shown sufficient capacity to investigate and prosecute the son of ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here)
Ruto trial delayed at ICC: On Monday, 3 June, judges at the International Criminal Court scheduled the trial start date for Kenyan President-elect William Ruto for 10 September. The original start date of 28 May was postponed to allow prosecutors and defence attorneys the opportunity to prepare witnesses and conduct further evidence investigations. Judges presented their decision to delay trial for Ruto and co-accused Joshua Arap-Sang with recommendations that portions of the trial be conducted in Kenyan courts or neutral Tanzania. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
HRW report identifies ICC suspect Kushayb in April attack: Human Rights Watch released a report this week, detailing how Sudanese militia leader Ali Kushayb was involved in an attack on a central Darfur town earlier this year. Kushayb and other members of pro-Sudanese Government Janjaweed fighters reportedly travelled to Abu Jeradil and attacked a rival tribe in early April. Kushayb was indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes he allegedly committed during 2007 Janjaweed attacks in the Darfur Region. (For additional information on this topic, please click here)
ICTY acquittal shocks war victims: Two former Serbian officials were acquitted today by the ICTY for crimes committed during the 1990s Bosnian War. ICTY judges found the prosecution failed to provide enough evidence to prove that Jovica Stanisic, head of Serbia’s secret police, and Franko Simatovic, head of special operations in the secret police, possessed the requisite intent for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Serbia applauded the ICTY for conducting fair trials and helping the country establish the truth. Nonetheless, the acquittals were met with disappointment from war victims who continue to wait for a conviction of a government official for atrocities that claimed the lives of more than 100,000.
(For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Pillay considers referral to ICC best way to end Syrian conflict: On Wednesday, 29 May, the UN Human Rights Council held an urgent debate in Geneva to discuss the escalating conflict in Syria. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay insisted that referral to the ICC for adjudication is the most effective way to end the dispute. Pillay commended US Secretary of State John Kerry and officials from Russia and France for the recent proposal of a peace conference in Geneva that could foster discussions between the Syrian Government and rebels.
ICC Judge withdraws from Lubanga impartiality appeal: ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song has withdrawn from reviewing a claim by Thomas Lubanga that the judge is impartial. Judge Song is handling Lubanga’s appeal against his March 2012 conviction and sentence of 14 years in prison for recruiting child soldiers. Lubanga claims Judge Song’s alleged public support of Lubanga’s conviction at a November 2012 conference and the judge’s position on the board of the United Nations Children’s Fund Korea creates an appearance of bias. Judge Song denies that any of his statements at the conference specifically discussed the merits of the Lubanga case and also stated he is not directly involved with the running of UNICEF Korea. Judge Song currently remains on the bench handling Lubanga’s appeal. No ruling has been made on the impartiality claim.
Negative responses to AU’s allegation ICC targets Africa: Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga openly criticized the AU’s recent resolution calling for the ICC trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta to be tried in and by Kenya. Odinga expressed disbelief that the countries of Africa could voluntarily avail themselves to the jurisdiction of the ICC and then claim the Court is singling the continent out based on race. African activists have also spoken out and described the AU resolution an attempt to “pervert the course of justice.” These individuals have questioned the AU’s motive for exempting President Kenyatta from ICC prosecution, yet, previously handing over other African leaders to the Court.
(For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
ICTY convicts six Bosnian Croats: Six accused on trial for forcibly displacing and murdering Muslims and other non-Croats during the Bosnian conflict in the early 1990s, were found guilty today for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICTY judges held the leaders engaged in a joint criminal enterprise in an effort to create a “Greater Croatia.” The tribunal handed down prison sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years, with former prime minister Jadranko Prlic receiving the longest. The five other convicted wartime leaders are former defence minister Bruno Stojic, former militia heads Slobodan Praljak and Milivoj Petkovic, former military policy commander Valentin Coric, and former head of prisoner facilities Berislav Pusic. All six are expected to appeal. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Bensouda fires back at claims ICC targeting Africa because of race: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda responded sharply to accusations the court’s investigations were discriminately targeting African states at a 28 May UN meeting in New York. Bensouda argued that the AU’s charges that the ICC choose cases on the basis of race wrongly shifted the focus of the ICC indictments and the protection of the Court from victims to the perpetrators. Bensouda said the AU’s stance insulted the thousands of African victims subject to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. She vowed the ICC would remain politically independent and impartial. The Prosecutor’s statements came one day after the AU adopted a resolution urging the ICC to refer back to Kenya the cases of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here, and 2. click here).
Witness testifies Mladic “directly involved” in Srebrenica attacks: Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic’s trial continued at the ICTY with testimony from lieutenant colonel Mirko Trivic. Trivic claimed he met with Mladic in Srebrenica in July 1995, and that Mladic gave him orders to prepare for an offensive on the UN protected co-operative. A witness testified the previous week that he personally watched the murder of five Muslims and observed piles of bodies around Srebrenica that same month. Mladic is on trial for genocide, crimes against humanity, and taking international peacekeepers hostage.
UN Human Rights Council plans urgent debate on Syria: The Council’s three-week session opened on Monday with a recommendation that the Syrian government’s human rights violations be referred to the ICC for prosecution. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, voiced her concern for the safety of civilians, citing reports of aerial attacks in residential areas and the targeting of schools and hospitals. Present Syrian Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui called these charges unfounded and challenged the Council to provide proof of such violations. Ambassador Hamoui claimed the focus on his country was the result of bias and impartiality to rebel troops. U.S., Turkey, and Qatar diplomats nonetheless persuaded the Council to hold a second urgent debate to focus on the Syria civil war. The debate is scheduled for today, 29 May 2013.
Death penalty for ICT criminals to be carried out by August: The execution of three war criminals in Bangladesh is expected by July or August of this year, according to Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu. Two top leaders and a former Jamaat activist were found guilty by the ICT for crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War. The criminal appeals should conclude by June.
STL’s investigation of 2005 bombing to move quickly and carefully: On 14 May 14 2013, STL officials and the NGO Justice Without Frontiers met to discuss the on-going investigation into the 2005 bombing that killed 23 people, including former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The STL vowed to move the investigation along quickly to help the victims. The NGO stated this would be done in a “careful” manner to avoid leaks of confidential information.
Post by: Anna Mumford
AU leaders request Kenyatta transfer; suggest ICC bias: Leaders of the African Union congregated Friday to pass a resolution urging the International Criminal Court to send the case of Uhuru Kenyatta back to domestic Kenyan Courts. Kenyatta, along with Vice President William Ruto, faces trial 9 July. He was reelected to Kenya’s Presidency in March. Delegates at the AU summit suggested they would take their concerns over Kenyatta’s case to the United Nations, citing the high number of ICC indictees who hail from or are leaders of African countries. (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here and 2. click here).
ICTY recognizes 20 years since inception: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia marked its twentieth anniversary on Saturday, prompting ICTY and UN officials to reflect on the service of the Tribunal. President and Judge Theodor Meron acknowledged the significant contributions to international jurisprudence and individual accountability the Tribunal has made. The Security Council, who authorized the creation of the tribunal through Resolution 827 in May 1993, released a statement commending the work of the Tribunal and welcoming the start of the ICTY Residual Mechanism. The Mechanism will carry out the mandate of the court, to try the remaining individuals most responsible for atrocities committed in the former Yugoslav Territory after 1991. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
ICT of Bangladesh to try two accused in absentia: The International Crimes Tribunal-2 of Bangladesh on Monday decided to try two of its accused in absentia. After appealing to two members of the Pakistani Occupation Army via newspaper, the ICT-2 opted to proceed with the trial of Chowdhury Mueen-Uddin and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, without them present. Prosecutors filed war crimes charges against the two high-ranking members in late April and arrest warrants were issued 2 May. Mueen-Uddin and Khan were appointed state counsel to represent them in their absence.
Khmer Rouge victims to testify this week: In what is being called a “key moment” in the trial of two accused Khmer Rouge leaders, civilians will have the opportunity to testify before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. Victims will present their experience of the Khmer Rouge regime before judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys in the cases of Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, as an effort at national reconciliation. Attorneys for the victims pursued this opportunity for their clients to testify against the accused so that the Court could consider their experiences in its judgment, its allocation of reparations, and also for the public to hear first hand accounts of the atrocities.
UN renews call for chemical weapons investigation in Syria: UN special envoy on the Middle East peace process Robert Serry says the United Nations remains “gravely concerned” about the allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict. “Amid mounting reports on the use of chemical weapons, we once again urge the government of Syria to allow the investigation to proceed without further delay,” said Serry in a statement to the UN Security Council. An unnamed Western diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity further stated that information would continue to be passed on to UN leader Ban Ki-moon, and said that the alleged chemical weapons attacks had occurred since the beginning of April. While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government called for a UN investigation, they have continually blocked UN experts who seek access to all parts of the country to investigate these claims.
Kenyan ambassador stands behind open criticism of ICC: Kenyan ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau has affirmed his criticism of the ICC as a failing institution in an open opinion published in The Nation yesterday. Macharia made similar criticisms of the Court earlier this month. Deputy President William Ruto – who is facing trial at the ICC – notably distanced himself from Kamau’s criticisms. “The main purpose of the ICC seems to be [to] advance the career interest[s] of a handful of jurists and academics, and to enrich international law jurisprudence. I can see no reason to sacricice the interests of Kenyans to such vain ends,” said Macharia, referencing the trials of Ruto and Kenya’s sitting president Uhuru Kenyatta.
TRJC Report names Kenyatta and Ruto: On 22 May 2013, the Kenyan Truth Reconciliation and Justice Commission released publically its Report which investigated Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007-2008 and made recommendations. The report named President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto in connection with the PEV but did not make recommendations on investigation and prosecution due to the fact that both face trial before the ICC. The report recommended that further investigations and prosecutions by the Kenyan authorities should be initiated against certain “high-profil personalities” within the Kenyan Government; naming newly appointed Minister of Mining Najib Balala and two senators for investigation. The Report asked President Kenyatta to issue a public apology for all human rights violations suffered by Kenyans since the country’s independence.
ICT of Bangladesh rejects Kaiser’s bail application: On Wednesday 22 May 2013, the ICT of Bangladesh rejected an application for bail made by Jatiya Party leader and former Minister of agriculture, Syed Mohammad Kaiser. Justice Obaidul Hassan, Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice M Shahinur Islam explained that bail was not granted in order to ensure a fair investigation into the Prosecution’s case. The defence’s bail application stated that Kaiser is in poor health and needed access to proper medical treatment, while the Prosecution countered that Kaiser’s influence in the community would affect the Prosecution’s investigation. The Court ordered the case to move forward and ordered the Prosecution to file a progress report by 17 June 2013.
Argentina charges former Ford Motors executives with CAH: On Tuesday 21 May 2013, Argentinian prosecutors charged three former executives of Ford Motors in Argentina with crimes against humanity relating to the kidnapping and torture of union workers following the 1976 military coup. Pedro Muller, Guillermo Galarraga and Hector Francisco Jesus Sibilla, the former factory director, human resources chief and security manager respectively, are accused with disclosing names, pictures, and home addresses to security forces who used this information to detain, torture and interrogate union workers at Ford Motors. All three accused were ordered to house arrest and bail was set at $142,000 each.
Habre lawyers file suit to prevent “illegal” prosecution: Former Chadian president Hissene Habre’s lawyers have filed a suit to prevent Senegal from prosecuting him in the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice. Habre is accused of committing crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes during the eight years he was in power in Chad, during which approximately 40,000 people were killed. Senegal and the African Union set up the regional court in December to try Habre .Habre is arguing that the court is “subservient to the Senegalese executive” and that the agreement between Dakar and the African Union is not based on “any legal ruling, national or international.”
Indonesian government officially rejects Rome Statute: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusigiantoro has issued a statement blocking the ratification of the Rome Statute at this time, saying that the ratification was not urgent in light of Indonesian national legal instruments to serve as a foundation for human rights protection. “There are many countries, including major democratic countries, that have yet to ratify the Rome Statute, although there are equally a large number of countries that have adopted it. Therefore, we need more time to carefully and thoroughly review the pros and cons of the ratification,” said Purnomo.
Guatemala’s Constitutional Court annuls genocide conviction of former dictator: The top court in Guatemala has overturned the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. Montt was found guilty earlier this month of genocide and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the massacre of over 1,700 indigenous Mayans during the early 1980’s. The court held that the trial must restart from the point earlier this year when the trial was temporarily suspended due to a judge’s dispute.
New judge appointed in Ruto case: The International Criminal Court has appointed a new Presiding Judge to oversee the trial of Deputy President William Ruto. Judge Olga Herrera Carbucci will temporarily replace Judge Kuniko Ozaki in both Ruto’s case and that of Kenyan radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. Judge Ozaki will now be handling the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “The decision of the presidency was taken to ensure the proper administration of justice, taking into consideration each Judge’s workload,” said a statement issued by Vice-President Judge Sanji Monageng.
Alleged Ouattara supporter apprehended in Ivory Coast: On Saturday, authorities in Cote d’Ivoire announced that they had a former member of Alassane Ouattara’s military regime in custody. Amade Oueremi allegedly ordered attacks against supporters of Laurent Gbagbo during violent post-election protests in 2011. Then-outgoing President Gbagbo refused to leave office after national elections declared Ouattara the victor. Authorities suggest Oueremi will be transferred to Abidjan, where he will face charges. Gbagbo was arrested shortly after the riots and transferred to The Hague, where he is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court.
UN Human Rights Office indicates CAH may have been committed in Nigeria: A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said this weekend that Boko Haram’s recent violent attacks could constitute crimes against humanity. Rupert Colville said Friday that the hundreds of civilian deaths in Nigeria, largely accredited to the militant group Boko Haram, were of great concern to the international community. Anything amounting to widespread and systematic attacks or ethnic cleansing against the population could be prosecuted. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon echoed these sentiments.
LRA casualties surpass 100,000 according to UN: On Monday the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a key figure from its report on the impact of the Lord’s Resistance Army and civilian welfare in Central Africa. It concluded that over 100,000 individuals had been killed since 1987, during which time the LRA had also committed atrocities including child abduction and forced displacement. The LRA’s current leader, Joseph Kony, reportedly led the group in attacks against civilians in Uganda, and is thought to be on the run in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, or other speculated locations. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for these crimes.
Ruto and Sang appear in ICC status conference: On Tuesday 14 May 2013, ICC accused William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang appeared before the ICC Trial Chamber during a status conference to discuss the commencement of trial, appearance during trial and witness issues. William Ruto asked judges to waive his right of appearance and allow the Deputy President to appear once during the most important hearings. Making a short statement to the Court, Ruto emphasized his commitment to cooperate with the Court while stating “I am aware that my responsibility to the court as an individual must be balanced by my constitutional responsibility as Deputy President.” During the same status conference, Sang objected to an application by the Prosecution to recall two witnesses and add three new witnesses to the witness list. Sang also responded to the Prosecution’s proposal to limit the testimony of an investigator who is to be called before the Court to answer questions on issues concerning Prosecution witnesses. Both Ruto and Sang asked that the new trial date be set for November 2013 in order to allow the Defence to properly review Prosecution disclosure which the Defence says has been submitted late to the Defence. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Arrest of former Chadian police chief Djibrine welcomed: Campaigners and human rights groups in Chad have welcomed the arrest of the former head of the Directorate of Documentation and Security in Chad; former President Hissene Habre’s political police force during the 1980s. Djibrine is accused of the torture and killing of opposition activists in the 1980s, and was arrested based on a lawsuit filed by 13 Chadian individuals who suffered abuse under the leadership of Habre. It is unknown whether Djibrine will be tried domestically in Chad or in Senegal before the special tribunal created in conjunction with the African Union to try Habre.
ICC Prosecutor denies witness allegations and pressures Kenya’s cooperation: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has denied allegations that witnesses have given the Court false information following the recent withdrawal of witness testimony by several witnesses who gave information against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Bensouda stated that she is “not aware of any witness that has given false information to the ICC.” This week Bensouda also stated while in Geneva that the ICC maintains expectations that Kenya will cooperate with the prosecution on the cases. Bensouda stated “I have been very clear all the time about this matter. I have stated that what we want is the full and unwavering cooperation of the Kenyan Government. In the event that this doesn’t happen, we will have no option but to bring the matter to the attention of the Chamber for direction.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
HRW urges India to protect witness before ICT of Bangladesh: HRW has urged the Government of India to protect Bangladeshi national, Shukhoranjan Bali, who is said to be a key defence witness to the ICT of Bangladesh and was reported missing just before he was due to give testimony before the Tribunal. HRW alleged that Bali was abducted and forced to enter India where he was arrested for entering the country illegally. HRW stated “The apparent abduction of a witness in a trial at the ICT is a cause for serious concern about the conduct of the prosecution, judges and government.” Bali claims he was abducted while at the courthouse by police and held in the custody of the Bangladeshi authorities for several weeks before being forced to enter India. Bali has completed his 110 day sentence for entering India illegally but continues to be held in detention. HRW asked that Bali not be returned to Bangladesh before a possible claim for asylum can be heard by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Argentinian convicted of CAH dies in prison: It is reported that Argentina’s former military leader Jorge Rafael Videla has died of natural causes in an Argentinian prison. Videla, 87, was serving a life since 2010 for the crimes against humanity related to his responsibility for the death of 31 individuals during Argentinian’s military rule from 1976 to 1983. The period from 1976 to 1983 is known for the regime’s “dirty war” which resulted in the torture and killing of over 30,000 people. In 1985 Videla was sentence to life in prison for murder, torture and other crimes but was pardoned due to an amnesty in 1990. In 2010 Argentina’s Supreme Court reinstated his life sentence by upholding a 2007 federal initiate which overturned Videla’s pardon.