Archive for category ICJ
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).
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).
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.”
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).
Morsi trial postponed in Cairo: Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s hearing was adjourned Wednesday, 8 January 2014, due to bad weather. The former President was unable to fly to the Cairo courthouse although it is being reported the skies were clear and no other flights were canceled. Morsi, along with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members, is accused of charges of inciting the murders of at least three protesters in 2012. The hearing is rescheduled for 1 February 2014. (N.Y. Times).
U.S. to table third resolution against Sri Lanka: During a visit to Sri Lanka this week, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Stephen J. Rapp announced that the U.S. intends to bring a third resolution against Sri Lanka at the March 2014, U.N. Human Rights Council. The resolution calls for an international investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed during Sri Lanka’s 26 year civil war. The Sri Lankan government in response maintains that the country is currently implementing international recommendations. (Colombo Page).
Serbia requests unilateral withdrawal of ICJ genocide charges: Serbia “will not withdraw the genocide counter-suit against Croatia [at the ICJ] unilaterally,” Serbian policy adviser Marko Djuric informed the media on Tuesday, 7 January 2014. Djuric reasoned the countries should resolve the issues and withdraw both genocide lawsuits simultaneously. Serbia filed the counter-suit in 2010, claiming Croatia, among other things, was responsible for missing people during the 1991-1995 war. (Dalje.com).
Chile & Peru’s ICJ decision this January: The ICJ is expected to issue its decision on the maritime boundary line between Chili and Peru on 27 January 2014. The case came before the international court in 2008, disputing sovereignty of an area of 95,000 square kilometers at sea. Chile reasons two treaties from the 1950s established the maritime boundary lines. Peru, on the other hand, claims the treaties concern only fishing rights. Peru’s former defense minister said the county wait’s the ICJ decision “with optimism, prudence, tranquility, and confidence.” (Fish Info & Services).
7.4 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s judicial system: The EU has presented Bosnia and Herzegovina with 7.4 million euros to employ 120 additional personnel and increase the operational costs of its judicial system handling war crimes cases. To date, Bosnia and Herzegovina tried 214 war crimes cases with over 1,000 still outstanding. Bosnia and Herzegovina Justice Minister Barisa Colak said “[t]his is a complex topic and it is very important that each segment in the prosecution of war crimes works adequately to meet the conditions set by European justice. We will start [using the funds to provide] adequate space, witness protection, audio and video equipment and defence attorneys.” (Southeast Europe Times).
Opposition party accuses Cambodia government of crimes against humanity: The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, alleging Cambodia’s security forces committed crimes against humanity, is seeking legal help to determine whether to file a complaint in the ICC. Specifically, the CNRP accuses the Cambodian government of “murder, arbitrary imprisonment, forced transfer and persecution on political grounds” of civilians during attacks last week. The government claims it has already established a credible investigatory team expected to report back on the incidents. (For additional information on this topic, click here) (The Cambodia Daily & The Phnom Penh Post).
U.K. demands Sri Lanka investigation: The U.K. is pushing for a resolution at the March 2014, U.N. Human Rights Council against Sri Lanka who it alleges has yet to conduct a legitimate investigation into sexual violence committed by the government during its 26 year civil war. Foreign & Commonwealth Minister Hugo Swire said the U.K. would “continue to press the Sri Lankan Government for credible, transparent and independent investigation into alleged war crimes.” The Sri Lankan government maintains the county is in the process of addressing the concerns of the U.K. but that it will take years to achieve a resolution. (Colombo Page).
1,000 die in CAR attacks: Amnesty International reported that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the Central African Republic. According to the human rights group, nearly 1,000 men have died this December since a de facto government retailed against Christians. Others have been forcibly displaced and a small number of women and children have been killed. Amnesty International has requested the U.N. deploy a “peacekeeping force, with a mandate to protect civilians, and enough resources to do so effectively.” (Daily Times).
International Crimes Division expected in Kenya: Kenya is in the advanced stages of establishing an International Crimes Division within the High Court, says Samuel Kobia, Commissioner of the Judicial Service Commission. The Division will have jurisdiction over war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, piracy, human trafficking and arms smuggling. The Division is expected to aid Kenya’s lower courts and prevent perpetrators from going unpunished. (All Africa).
U.N. reports Syrian disappearances: On Thursday, 19 December 2013, U.N. investigators said the Syrian government was engaged in a “widespread campaign of terror against the civilian population.” Since the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, the U.N. has documented at least one hundred disappearances of activists and civilians. The U.N. report states reasonable grounds exist to believe the acts committed during Syria’s civil war amount to crimes against humanity. (The Daily Star).
East Timor files suit in ICJ: East Timor filed suit in the ICJ against Australia on Tuesday, 17 December 2013. East Timor alleged an Australian spy organization unlawfully seized and detained documents related to an oil and gas treaty dispute between the two countries. East Timor requested a formal apology, as well as the destruction of all the documents illegally seized. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot said the raids were necessary to protect national security. (Herald Sun News).
U.N. team chief pushes for new chemical weapons investigations in Syria: Ake Sellstrom, the leader of the U.N. team tasked with determining whether chemical weapons were used in Syria, has called for more investigations. Sellstrom told reporters in an interview Monday, 16 December 2013, that it was imperative the U.N. conduct broader investigations in Syria to determine responsibility for the 2013 chemical weapons attacks. Sellstrom said there is still much evidence to be discovered that would aid in finding those to hold accountable. (ABC News).
ICC obstructing victims rights; says campaign groups: Prominent victims rights groups have alleged the ICC’s concessions to Kenya’s sitting heads of state is endangering the rights of the victims. Recently, the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties authorized the amendment of the Court’s rules to allow accused the opportunity to be absent from court proceedings under certain conditions. Although the changes need approval from ICC judges in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, advocates for the victims found the changes compromise the interests and the voice of the victims. Representatives for the Kenyan government, on the other hand, claimed “[t]he right of victims to be represented in trials is well enshrined in the Rome Statute, and [the country is] not in any way touching on that.” (All Africa).
ICJ to decide on Chile and Peru dispute January 2014: The ICJ is expected to issue its decision on the maritime boundary line between Chili and Peru on 27 January 2014. Peru brought the case before the international court in 2008, disputing the sovereignty of an area at sea. Chile argued in response that a treaty dating back to the 1950s established the maritime boundary lines. Peruvian President Ollanta Humala said he hoped the decision would “show the entire world that even historical problems can be solved within the judicial framework of the [ICJ].” (Peru this Week).
U.K. threatens Sri Lanka with international inquiry: The U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, warned Sri Lanka that if it did not investigate allegations of sexual violence committed by government forces during its 26-year civil war it would be subject to an international inquiry. Hague warned the country that it had until the Human Rights Council met in March to conduct an independent and credible investigation. Sri Lanka is one country that has not yet signed the U.K.’s declaration to end sexual violence during conflict. (Sunday Times).
Bosnian Serbs arrested for CAH: The Bosnian prosecution office has charged nine suspects with crimes against humanity related to the country’s 1992-1995 civil war. The nine Bosnian Serb policeman allegedly “expelled, deported, illegally imprisoned, tortured, or killed non-Serbian civilians . . . in a systematic campaign against the Muslim and Croatian populations.” Nearly 100,000 died and millions were replaced as a result of the civil war. (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty).
Bemba restrictions lifted at ICC: An ICC judge has ordered the immediate lifting of detention restrictions placed on Jean-Pierre Bemba and his recently imprisoned lead defense counsel, Aime Kilolo-Musamba. During detention, the two had been restricted to 30 minute phone calls, one hour monitored visits with family, and an initial 72 hour of no contact. Bemba argued the restrictions violated his right to counsel and Kilolo said it prevented him from presenting an adequate defense. Kilolo was arrested in November on allegations of witness interference and forged evidence. (Bemba Trial).
ICC investigations flawed, says Kenyan lawyers: Lawyers met in Nairobi on Tuesday, 3 December 2013, to protest ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s handling of investigations into Kenya. The lawyers claimed Bensouda and her predecessor forged evidence and relied on unreliable witnesses. One lawyer was quoted as saying: “It appears as though the court was determined to confirm the charges and the prosecution was convinced that there were substantial grounds to proceed with the case even though the investigations were questionable.” The ICC is currently trying Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and the case against the country’s sitting President will commence in February 2014. (All Africa).
Cooperation between ICTY and Serbia positive: It is expected the chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, will report positively to the U.N. Security Council on Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal on Thursday, 5 December 2013. Brammertz met with officials in Serbia last month “to discuss transfer of documents and access to government archives and witnesses.” It appears the transition of matters between the ICTY and Serbia has gone smoothly and efficiently. Brammertz presents his findings twice a year to the Security Council. (In Serbia).
Bosnian war criminals to be released: A local court that issued judgements in over 100 cases since its establishment in 2005 to aid the ICTY is expected to release hundreds of Bosnian war criminals. In July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the local court erred in convicting and punishing accused under a 2003 criminal code. The ECHR concluded the court should have been applying a less stringent 1976 statute that was in force at the time the crimes were committed. The local court will now need to schedule retrials. (The Malay Mail).
Indonesia offers support to Cambodia and Thailand after ICJ verdict: Indonesia has pledged to aid Cambodia and Thailand as the two countries carry out the ICJ’s recent decision concerning the ownership of a Hindu temple. Indonesia stated it was “ready to assist in whatever means if both countries ask for its support in implementing the ICJ order.” In November 2013, the ICJ granted Cambodia ownership of the temple located near the Cambodian-Thai border. (Phnom Penh Post).
Sierra Leone Residual Court elects Kenya’s Wiki as President: Kenya’s Phillip Waki was elected President of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone on 3 December 2013. Waki previously served as an alternate appeals judge at the SCSL and sat on the Kenyan Court of Appeals and High Court. Justice Jon Kamanda of Sierra Leone was elected as Vice President. (The Star).
Security Council opts not to pass Kenyatta trial delay bid: On 15 November 2013, the resolution put to a vote before the UN Security Council on the deferral of the ICC trials of Kenya’s President and his deputy failed to pass. Nine votes were needed to approve the resolution but only eight were cast. (UN News).
Korean victims appeal to ICC: Family members of people abducted during the Korean War have decided to formally sue Kim Jong-un for unlawful detention and failure to address such abuses. The group filing the legal motion will also be providing supporting evidence, all of which will be submitted to the ICC on Wednesday of this week. (globalpost).
AU considers bid to alter Rome Statute: Kenya is counting on the support of numerous African countries to vote in favor of amendments to the Rome Statute which seek to excuse President Kenyatta and his deputy from continuous attendance of their cases as the have been cooperating with the court. Kenya would also like to see an amendment added to Article 27 that would grant immunity to sitting heads of state. Unfortunately, there are nine countries that are arrears and will lose their voting rights. (The Star).
Cameron uses Sri Lanka visit to encourage war crimes investigation: Prime Minister Cameron, while attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, made vocal his commitment to see that a human rights inquiry take place in Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes. Cameron stated that if the Sri Lankan government did not take action in the next four months than he would call for a full credible and independent international inquiry. (For additional information on this topic, please click here). (The Guardian, SKY).
UK investigation alleges war crimes in Egypt: A high-profile legal team from the UK appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the military in Egypt of a number of crimes and human rights abuses since becoming the interim government upon Mohamed Morsi’s ousting in July. It is likely that a case will be brought in front of the ICC of the ICJ. (Aljazeera).
African Commission adopts treaty protecting individuals with Albinism: The UN human rights office welcomes the adoption of the first-ever resolution protection people with albinism by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The UN, while encouraged by these initial steps, would like to see all African States take action by enacting similar resolutions. (UN News).