Archive for category ICJ

2014 August 11 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

HRW issues report on South Sudan crimes: According to HRW, extraordinary acts of cruelty that amount to war crimes in South Sudan have been committed since fighting began in December of 2013.  Government and opposition forces have been called upon by HRW to end the cycle of violence against civilians immediately.  There are hopes that the UN Security Council will impose an arms embargo to limit the number of weapons coming into the war torn country.  (HRW).

Argentina submits ICJ application against U.S.:  The Argentinean government has asked the ICJ to take action against the US over an alleged breach of its sovereignty as it defaulted on its debt.  However, no action will occur “unless and until” the US accepts the court’s jurisdiction.  (The Guardian).

KRT tribunal convicts and sentences two to life appeals anticipated: Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan have been sentenced to life in prison for committing crimes against humanity related to their role in the country’s 1970 terror.  The two men were high ranking officials in the Khmer Rouge government during the “killing Fields” era from 1975-1979.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (Aljazeera, UN News).

UN Leaders concerned over recent violence in Iraq:  Irina Bokova, a senior UN official, has called for an immediate stop to what she has termed as an “emerging cultural cleansing.”  Civilians are currently under attack by ISIL and many remain stranded with limited access to humanitarian aid.  More than 200,000 people are believed to have made their way to Dahuk governorate in the Kurdistan region, looking for assistance.

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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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