Archive for category ICJ

5 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Santiago steps down as ICC judge, cites health issues: Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago is stepping down from the ICC due to health concerns; she announced in a letter addressed to President Sang-Hyun Song this week. Santiago was elected in December 2011, and was the first Asian from a developing country and first Filipino to sit on the Court. Santiago requested her letter to ICC President Song be distributed to all parties of the Rome Statute “with thanks.” (Business World Online).

African Attorney Generals seek more African judges at the ICC: At a meeting in Ethiopia last month, African Attorney Generals said they will push for more African judges at the ICC. Additionally, the AGs agreed to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the issue of presidential immunity. The AGs previously recommended an amendment to the Protocol of the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to allow for presidential immunities. (the Star).

Special Court for Sierra Leone grants application for Senessie’s conditional early release: Yesterday, 4 June 2014, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone granted Eric Koi Senessie an application for conditional early release. Senessie was convicted of contempt by the SCSL in June 2012, for bribery and interfering with a witness. Senessie received two years imprisonment after admitting his guilt in a formal statement to the SCSL. (the Hague Justice Portal).

Three Bosnian Serb former soldiers arrested for war crimes following mass grave discovery: Mitar Vlasenko, Rade Vlasenko and Drago Koncar were arrested today, 5 June 2014, in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The three former Bosnian Serb soldiers are suspected of war crimes committed against Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. The arrests stem from last year’s discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of some 1,000 victims. (Chicago Tribune).

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7 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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

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

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

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

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3 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Prime Minister Shinzo: Japan will abide by ICJ ban on Antarctic whale hunt: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed disappointment in the ICJ’s 31 March 2014, decision banning the country’s whaling program in the Antarctic for not being solely for scientific purposes. The Prime Minister, nevertheless, said Japan would comply with the Court’s decision and immediately halt the program. (Australia Network News).

New lawyer, John Jones, appointed to represent suspect before Khmer Rouge Tribunal: The ECCC appointed John Jones to represent one of the suspects in Case 004. Jones is a British lawyer with experience defending accused at the various international criminal courts. No suspects have been officially charged in the “government-opposed Case 004″, however, the confidential identities of the defendants “were long ago revealed to be Ta An, Ta Tith and Im Chem.” (Phnom Penh Post).

Recently released confidential health assessment shows Chea and Samphan’s improved health: The confidential physical and psychiatric assessment of ECCC co-defendants Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan was reportedly obtained this week by the Phnom Penh Post. The assessment, conducted last month by a team of health professionals at the ECCC detention center, concluded that both Chea and Samphan had improved health and were fit to stand trial. The ECCC requested the assessment in order to determine the ability of the co-defendants to follow proceedings in the second phase of Case 002. (Phnom Penh Post).

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2 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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

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

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

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

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

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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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10 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Amnesty Report highlights Syria crimes:  Amnesty International has reported that the Syrian army has been using starvation as a weapon of war in its control of the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus.  Because aid cannot be delivered due to the Syrian army’s interference at least 60 percent of those in Yarmuk are suffering from malnutrition.  (AFP).

Croatia-Serbia genocide case begins at ICJ:  The ICJ has begun hearings in mutual claims of genocide brought by Croatia and Serbia.  The original suit was brought by Croatia in 1999 blaming Yugoslavia alleged acts amounting to ethnic cleansing.  Yugoslavia, now Serbia, countersued claiming that 200,000 ethnic Serbs were forced to flee in 1995 when Croatian troops launched a military operation to retake occupied territory.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here) (SBS, ICJ).

Karadzic prosecution seeks to introduce new evidence:  The discovery of a mass grave in Bosnia has motivated the Prosecutors at the Hague tribunal to ask the judges to allow them to reopen their case against Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic.  The Prosecution argues that restricting the use of this new found evidence would be against the interests of justice.  (IWPR).

Rwandan Government releases genocide report; criticizes ICTR:  Rwanda’s senate has released a report that attacks the competency of the ICTR.  There have been a number of acquittals which have taken place that are at the center of the public outrage.  However, the court has put nearly two million people on trial, convicting 65 percent of them.  (AFP).

Saadi Gaddafi returned to Libya for trial:  Saadi Gaddafi has been extradited from Niger to stand trial Libya.  He is currently facing charges of embezzlement and making armed threats.

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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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5 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor: Kenyan government obstructionism means ICC will not be successful in Kenyatta prosecution: Prosecutors requested the ICC on 31 January 2014, to adjourn the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta until the defense delivers requested financial records. The prosecution argued the defense’s failure to fulfill court obligations was harming investigations. The prosecution predicts the records will show that Kenyatta indirectly financed the violence committed after the 2007 presidential election. (Reuters).

Trial of Rwandan Army Captain charged with complicity in ’94 genocide begins in France:  Proceedings in the case against Pascal Simbikangwa, a former captain of the Rwandan army, commenced in France on Tuesday, 4 February 2014.  Simbikangwa faces charges of complicity to commit genocide for, among other things, organizing massacres and supplying arms. French law allows the country to hear cases of genocide and other serious violations of international law committed in Rwanda. (Jakarta Globe).

Costa Rica to sue Nicaragua over sea rights at the ICJ: Costa Rica intends to file suit in the ICJ by May 2014, concerning ownership over an area of sea. The country claims Nicaragua usurped “Costa Rican territorial seas, based on demarcation it did arbitrarily and unilaterally, to chart what it calls its oil (exploration) blocs.” Nicaragua, on the other hand, argued it had jurisdiction over the waters under a November 2012 ICJ decision between its country and Columbia. (Inside Costa Rica).

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29 January 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICJ redraws border, gives Peru claim to sea under Chilean sovereignty: The ICJ has granted Peru a “fish-rich” portion of the Pacific Ocean claimed by Chili since the late 1800s. Earlier in the month, both presidents expressed their countries intent to respect what the ICJ judges have now ruled an “equitable solution.” Peru brought the case before the international court back in 2008, disputing the maritime boundary line between its country and Chili.

After indefinite postponement, Kenyatta seeks excusal from presence in ICC trial: Defense lawyers for Uhuru Kenyatta have moved the ICC to excuse the Kenyan President from physical presence in The Hague. The lawyers claim Kenyatta’s “extraordinary” presidential duties are too demanding for even presence via video link.  The lawyers made note of the President’s role in national security as the country is threatened by terrorists. The ICC judges only last week postponed Kenyatta’s 5 February 2014, trial date indefinitely.

Sri Lanka says war crimes inquiry would bring “chaos,” reconciliation needs more time: Secretary to Sri Lanka’s President, Lalith Weeratunga, fears an international investigation into war crimes committed during the country’s 26-year civil war would likely cause chaos. Weeratunga has asked for at least five years to start reconciliation. The secretary stated: “It’s a very delicate, delicate process. Reconciliation is not a task that can be achieved in a day or two.” Both the U.K and the U.S. have pushed the Sri Lankan government for an international investigation this year.

International Commission of Jurists find Brunei Sharia penal code violates international human rights law: The International Commission of Jurists warned the Brunei government that its re-introduction of Sharia law this past October violates international human rights. The Sharia penal code in Brunei would, among other things, criminalize and impose severe sentences for extra-marital affairs and homosexuality. The NGO expressed disappointment in the tiny island’s “backward step.”

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22 January 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN to release South Sudan report: The U.N. hopes to release an initial report documenting human rights abuses in South Sudan since two ethnic groups clashed in mid-December. U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, who recently visited the country, found the situation “quite grim” and stated some of the worst abuses may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. While Simonovic noted both ethnic groups were involved in the crimes, he warned that the report may not be able to initially identify the suspects. (All Africa).

Report claims Syrian forces committed war crimes: On Monday, 20 January 2014, an inquiry team commissioned on behalf of Qatar released a report alleging Syrian security forces tortured and killed detainees.  The team, comprised of war crimes prosecutors and forensic scientists, compiled over 50,000 photographs that tend to prove Bashar al-Assad’s regime participated in “systematic torture and killing.”  The evidence apparently was given to the team by a defector who was in charge of taking the pictures.  The defector reported: “The reason for photographing executed persons was twofold.  First to permit a death certificate . . . ; second to confirm that orders to execute individuals had been carried out.” The report has yet to be authenticated by the U.N. (The Telegraph).

Two prosecution witnesses testify at Hariri trial in The Hague: The Special Tribunal for Lebanon continued proceedings into the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Wednesday, 22 January 2014. Two prosecution witnesses testified as to the impact the attack, which killed nearly 200 people, had on their family and their lives. The accused, four of the five which are being tried in absentia, are charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder. (The Daily Star).

Kenya postpones Barasa extradition proceedings: Kenya has postponed extradition proceedings against Walter Barasa until the state High Court rules on the journalist’s arrest and surrender to the ICC. The High Court is expected to decide on 31 January 2014, whether the charges against Barasa at the ICC are valid. Barasa is wanted in The Hague for witness interference related to the ICC’s case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto. (All Africa).

Lubanga claims prosecution failed to disclose evidence timely: The ICC ruled this month that convicted war criminal Thomas Lubanga may present additional evidence in support of his appeal. Specifically, Lubanga seeks to add that the prosecution failed to disclose exculpatory evidence within a reasonable time. The former leader claims the nondisclosure “call[s] into question the reliability of a considerable part of the findings upon which [his] conviction was based.” Lubanga was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison in March 2012 for recruiting child soldiers. (All Africa).

Private testimony continues at ICC in Ruto case: The testimony of a protected witness in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang continued at the ICC. Present for the private proceedings was Ruto, who was noticeably absent last week due to the Kenyan President’s travel outside the country. Ruto and Sang are on trial for crimes against humanity relating to the 2007 post-election violence. (The Star).

Peru readies for ICJ maritime decision: Peru is preparing for the expected 27 January 2014, ICJ decision concerning the maritime boundary line between its country and Chili. President Ollanta Humala Tasso has been in discussions with former heads of state and top government officials to ready for the ICJ’s announcement. Peru brought the case before the international court in 2008, disputing the sovereignty of 95,000 square kilometers at sea. (Andina).

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