Archive for category ICC

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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7 March 2014 – BREAKING NEWS

ICC Declares Katanga Guilty as an Accessory to Crimes in DRC

On Friday, 7 March 2014 Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found Germain Katanga guilty as an accessory, for murder, attacking civilian populations, destroying property, and pillaging in the Ituri Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Court regarded Mr. Katanga’s assistance to the Ngiti militia, before and during its assault on Bogoro Village on 24 February 2003, as amounting to war crimes and a crime against humanity (namely, murder).

The Court earlier amended charges of direct, or principal, liability against the defendant, including allegations that Mr. Katanga gave orders to the Ngiti militia and that he ordered the attack on Bogoro itself. As such, the Court considered Article 23(3)(d) of the Rome Statute in deciding that Mr. Katanga acted as an intermediary between weapons suppliers and those directly responsible for attacks in Ituri in February 2003.

Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert dissented based on her concern that the Defence was not afforded proper notice of the accessory liability charges, and that it subsequently rendered the trial unfair. Mr. Katanga will be sentenced at a later date.

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5 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN report accuses Syrian rebels of crimes against humanity, cites international community for inaction: A new report released by the U.N. Human Rights Council accuses Syrian rebel groups of crimes against humanity. Specifically, the report claims certain non-government groups in al-Ragga province engaged in systematic detentions and torture of ethnic Kurds.  The report further condemned the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council for failing to uphold international obligations and take action during Syria’s civil war in which more than 100,000 have been killed. (Deutsche Welle).

ICC witness testifies about ODM plan for post-election violence in Kenya: On Tuesday, 4 March 2014, a prosecution witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang testified to events leading up to the 2007 presidential election. The protected witness claimed leaders of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) organized secret meetings to encourage voters to reject the rule of the Kikuyus. The witness also testified that Sang used the radio to accuse other tribes of rigging votes. (Standard Digital).

Rights groups call for al-Bashir’s arrest on fifth anniversary of his indictment: Several human rights groups, such as United to End Genocide and the International Justice Project, penned a letter yesterday urging the U.N. Security Council and the ICC to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Yesterday, 4 March 2014, marked the fifth anniversary of the ICC’s indictment against the sitting President for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The letter calls for all member parties of the ICC to “stand for justice and make this year the last year of Bashir’s impunity.” It is estimated some 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million displaced since violence broke out in Darfur in 2003. (kens5.com).

ICJ sets decision date in Japan/Australia whaling case: The ICJ judgment in the case between Japan and Australia over whaling in the Antarctic will be delivered 31 March 2014. Australia brought the issue before the ICJ back in 2010, claiming Japan was engaging in illegal commercial whaling under the disguise of scientific research. The Court conducted a three-week hearing last year. (The Australian).

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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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27 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC urges DRC to detain visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir: The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been urged to arrest and surrender ICC indictee Omar al-Bashir as he visits the country for meetings with other African leaders. The Sudanese President, charged by the ICC in 2009, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, arrived in the DRC on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. A number of countries on the continent have already failed to arrest Bashir under similar situations claiming the ICC unfairly targets Africans. (Press TV).

Hariri trial adjourned to add fifth suspect: Proceedings at the Special Tribunal in Lebanon relating to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were suspended in ordered to add a fifth accused. The five men, allegedly responsible for killing 23 and wounding some 200 in the attack, will be tried in absentia when proceedings resume sometime in May. The Special Tribunal was established in 2007 and is the only ad hoc tribunal with the power to try at-large accused. (Yahoo News).

Sri Lanka strongly rejects UN war crimes inquiry: Sri Lanka considers a U.N. mandated international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during the country’s 26-year civil war “an unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state.” Sri Lanka’s comments come in response to a report published this week by U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay. The report, which calls for an international and independent investigation, precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in March 2014, that is expected to address the issue in Sri Lanka. (Time World).

Defence challenges ICC witness testimony; notes translation inconsistencies: The testimony of a prosecution witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has been challenged at the ICC. Specifically, the defence argued the witness wrongly translated phrases in the Kalenjin language. The witness claimed while testifying that Ruto addressed crowds in Kalenjin. (All Africa).

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26 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN human rights chief calls for inquiry into Sri Lanka war crimes: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for an “independent, international inquiry mechanism, which would contribute to establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed” in Sri Lanka.  Pillay’s report precedes a U.N. Human Rights Council debate scheduled for next month that may take up and order action in Sri Lanka.  As of now, the U.S. is planning to propose a resolution against Sri Lanka during the debate.  Pillay’s report – which will likely add pressure to the Sri Lankan government – states that thousands of civilians were killed, injured, or remain missing after the conflict between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).  “None of these cases has…resulted in the perpetrators being brought to justice,” said Pillay.

ICC has not yet received request to investigate Yanukovich: Earlier this week, Ukraine’s government voted for the country’s President, Viktor Yanukovich, to be sent to the ICC with two members of his government to be tried for “serious crimes” relating to the deaths of more than 100 people.  An ICC spokesman has stated that the ICC has not yet received Ukraine’s request, and noted that it would be up to the ICC prosecutor whether to pursue the investigation after the request is received.

Khmer Rouge tribunal orders physical/psychiatric assessment of Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea : In a 17 February filing released earlier this week, the trial chamber of the Khmer Rouge tribunal has ordered that Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea undergo physicals and psychiatric assessments to determine if they are fit to proceed with the trial’s second (and quite possibly final) segment. Doctors have been appointed for the octogenarian defendants and have been tasked with reporting to the court on their physical and cognitive ability.  The examinations are to take place in late March, shortly before a tentatively scheduled hearing on 28 March that will provide the parties to question the medical experts about their conclusions.  Though neither defendant has claimed to be unfit to stand trial, both have requested briefer and less frequent courtroom hearings to accommodate their diminished ability to remain engaged in lengthy proceedings.

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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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19 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

U.N. panel finds widespread human rights abuses in North Korea: A 400-page investigatory report documenting alleged human rights abused being carried out in North Korea was released by a special U.N. commission.  The report, which has already gained support from countries such as the U.S. and South Korea, reveals widespread and systematic acts of torture, starvation and executions. International scholars, who argue the acts could warrant an ICC prosecution, fear China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and a close ally of North Korea, would veto a referral to the permanent international court. North Korea has yet to respond to the report that is expected to be presented next month in Geneva to the U.N. Human Rights Council. (Wall Street Journal).

Kenyan AG Githu Muigai addresses  ICC: Domestic law prevents the disclosure of the Kenyan President’s financial records, said Attorney General Githu Muigai while speaking to ICC judges in The Hague on 13 February 2014. The attorney general informed the judges that proper procedure required the request for records to be submitted first to the local prosecutor for authorization. Muigai also denied that Kenya’s failure to comply with the ICC prosecution’s request for financial records violated its responsibilities to the Court.  (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).

Frankfurt: Genocide trial of Rwandan mayor begins: A German higher court commenced proceedings on 18 Tuesday 2014, against former Rwandan mayor Onesphore Rwabukombe. Rwabukombe, an ethnic Hutu, is charged with the mass killing of nearly 4,000 ethnic Tutsi during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Some 50 witnesses are expected to testify in the first Rwandan genocide case tried in Germany. Rwabukombe faces life imprisonment if convicted. (The Local).

Socio-Political Scientist Herve Maupeu testifies at Ruto/Sang ICC trial: The trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang resumed in The Hague on 17 Monday 2014 after the Christmas recess. An expert witness on Kenya’s social and political history, Herve Maupeu, testified that the country’s sitting head of state Uhuru Kenyatta had been a member of the Orange Democratic Movement’s leadership circle. Deputy President Ruto is a supporter of the Orange Democratic Movement which is alleged to have planned attacks against the rival political party. (Standard Media).

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18 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC to decide on witnesses refusing to testify in Ruto case: The trial against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Sang before the ICC continued on Monday, 17 February 2014, but several witnesses have refused to testify, an issue the judges are expected to rule on this week. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to summon seven witnesses, whom she alleges have refused to testify due to bribery, whereas Attorney General Githu Muigai argued that the Court cannot compel testimony. So far, 10 witnesses have testified. (The Star).

Genocide survivors outraged by ICTR acquittals: A Rwandan genocide survivors’ association declared the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s 11 February 2014 acquittal of two former army officers of charges related to the 1994 Rwandan genocide to be an “outrageous” decision and a “denial of justice.” Major Francois-Xavier Nzuwonemeye was acquitted because his alleged role in the assassination of the Prime Minister and killing of 10 Belgian UN Blue Helmets had not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and General Augustin Ndindiliyimana was acquitted because the Court ruled that he had not had effective authority over subordinates who had been abused. In both cases, the Appeals Chamber found errors in the assessments of the Trial Chamber. The sentence of a third officer, Innocent Sagahutu, was reduced from 20 to 15 years because the Court found that he had not ordered the killing of two Belgian UNAMIR peacekeepers. The Court also said that it would deliver a decision concerning the sentence of former army chief Augustin Bizimungu at a later date. (For more information on this topic, please click here and here). (AFP, ICTR, AllAfrica).

ICTY Accused, Milan Lukić, transferred to Estonia to serve sentence: Milan Lukić, who was sentenced to life in prison by the ICTY in 2009 for having committed crimes against humanity and violation of laws and customs of warfare, a conviction that was confirmed by the Appeals Chamber in 2012, has been transferred to Estonia, where he will serve out his sentence. (in Serbia).

Parties prepare final submissions after confirmation hearing concludes in Ntaganda case: Following the conclusion of the confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Bosco Ntaganda before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, both sides are preparing final written submissions. The Prosecutor and the Legal representatives of the victims have to turn in their submissions by 7 March 2014, and the Defense may reply to these submissions until 4 April 2014. The judges will decide whether to confirm the charges, decline to confirm the charges, or request further evidence within 60 days of receipt of the Defense’s written submission. Ntaganda is suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, DRC between September 2002 and September 2003, and the Pre-Trial Chamber II concluded the five-day hearing concerning these charges on 14 February, 2014. (ICC-CPI).

STL trial bring sense of justice as fifth accused is joined to case: On 14 February 2014, exactly nine years after the assassination of Rafic Hariri, mourners and friends of the former Lebanese Prime Minister were hopeful that the STL will bring those accused of the bombing to justice. Several days prior to the anniversary of Hariri’s death, on 11 February 2014, the STL had joined the case of a fifth alleged Hezbollah member to the trial of the four alleged members currently accused. (For more information, please click here) (The Daily Star).

UNHCR recommends international investigation into Sri Lanka war crimes: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called on the UN Human Rights Council to conduct an independent international probe into the war crimes committed in Sri Lanka during the Liberation War. According to Pillay, the Sri Lankan government has consistently failed to address the human rights violations that occurred between 1972 and 2009. (The Daily Star).

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17 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN Human Rights Panel reports widespread crimes in N. Korea: The UN mandated report released 17 February 2014 calls for urgent action to address the rights situation in N. Korea.  According to the Commission there is no parallel in the contemporary world with regard to the atrocities that have occurred and continue today in N. Korea.   The Commissioners state in the report that they will recommend referral of the situation in N. Korea to the ICC.  (UN News).

UN Compensation Commission orders over $1bil in damages to Kuwait:  The UNCC continues to order payments by the Iraqi government to the Kuwaiti government in order to compensate for the damages that occurred in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait.  The claims can be brought on behalf of individuals, corporations, governments and international organizations.  The funds are drawn from the UN Compensation Fund, which is financed by Iraqi oil exports.  (UN News). 

Uganda Leader suggests top LRA Commander may have been killed:  The Ugandan defence minister has stated that the deputy of the LRA, Okot Odhiambo, may have been killed in a period of recent fighting.  The ICC indicted Odhiambo in 2005 on charges of butchering and kidnapping civilians.  (AFP).

HRW reports concern over domestic Gaddafi Trial:  HRW has called for proper representation for Seif al-Islam as he stands trial for illegally trying to communicate with the outside world.  The ICC has been critical of Libya’s efforts to try former Kadhafi officials in Libyan courts.  Most officials agree that the guarantee of a fair trial may be limited.  (AFP).

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