Archive for category ICJ
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).
ICJ decision supports Cambodia’s claim to Preah Vihear temple: The International Court of Justice confirmed Cambodia’s claim to the promontory bearing the Preah Vihear temple yesterday after years of dispute between Cambodia and Thailand. The ICJ also stressed that the 1962 decision requiring Thailand to withdraw all security troops from the temple’s vicinity should be upheld. While Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith celebrated the decision, noting that “this is the victory of all the nation and the reward to the political maturity of the current Royal government of Cambodia,” Thai officials were calling for greater interpretation. Thai Ambassador to the Hague Virachai Plasai said Cambodia had won only a small piece of the disputed territory, and that the exact amount still needed further calculating. He also called for further interpretation of the decision. (Bangkok Post)
Ruto and Sang lawyers seek information on witness compensation: Lawyers for Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and Kenyan former radio announcer Joshua arap Sang said they are planning to appeal an ICC decision denying the men access to information regarding compensation to witnesses through the Victims and Witnesses Unit. “It is presumed that witnesses who come to testify will have to have sustenance in their lives whether it is afforded to them on their own or through the instrumentality of the VWU,” said presiding Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. The lawyers maintain they should have access to compensation information, as they believe the witness is a “hoax” who is falsifying testimony in exchange for his own monetary gain. “The prosecution’s reason for opposing the request is that the VWU is an independent unit tasked with making independent judgements on what is appropriate in terms of costs to be expended on wtinesses’ sustenance,” said Eboe-Osjui. (All Africa)
Sang opposes deferral of his ICC case: Kenyan former radio announcer Joshua arap Sang said he does not support a deferral of his trial and would prefer that his case proceed and conclude as soon as possible before the court. He noted that his situation is distinct from that of Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President Willaim Ruto, given their obligations to governing the country while also on trial before the ICC. “Personally I do not support this deferral thing, I know for them, President Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto, they really need it,” said Sang. “I understand…they are only a few months in office, they need it so they can govern this country but for me my preference is that I want the case concluded as soon as possible.” (Standard Media)
China supports delay of Kenyatta case at ICC: China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, urged the ICC on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, to postpone the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for at least a year. China’s U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi argued the dignity of Kenyatta must “be fully protected and respected” and that the Kenyan leader needed time to “concentrate on discharging [his] constitutional duties.” Kenyatta is on trial for crimes against humanity. The ICC case against him was previously suspended from November to 5 February 2014. (Eurasia Review).
30 killed in Nigerian attack; Islamist militants blamed: Members of an Islamist militant group responsible for a deadly attack on a wedding party in Nigeria this past Saturday, 2 November 2013, could face charges of crimes against humanity, said U.N. Human Rights Office Spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly. Pouilly reported the Nigerian government established a panel to investigate and report on alleged human rights abuses being committed in the country. Since 2009, thousands of Nigerians have been killed or displaced in the militant group’s fight to overthrow the government and replace it with a Islamist regime. (Voice of America).
International reports focus on U.S. drone strikes: Recent reports by U.N. special rapporteurs, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have examined whether the U.S.’s use of drone strikes complies with international humanitarian law. Amnesty International noted that lethal force outside armed conflict is legal only when proportionately used to protect life. The NGO stressed attacks must be targeted against militants and not harm civilians. Amnesty International’s report considered the drone strikes by the U.S. in Pakistan likely “constitute[d] extrajudicial executions” and were in violation of international law. Similarly, Human Rights Watch concluded certain U.S. drone strikes in Yemen “may have violated the laws of war because the individual attacked was not a lawful military target.” (The Guardian).
Thailand and Cambodia prepare for ICJ verdict: The ICJ’s expected 11 November 2013, ruling on the ownership of the Hindu temple located near the border of Thailand and Cambodia has many security officials worried. It is feared internal political disputes between either country’s government and opposition forces may “create a situation for misunderstanding” and “ignite a [border] conflict.” The Thai and Cambodian Foreign Ministers met last week to discuss military restraint and stability along the border. (The Nation).
Chief of UN inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea moved to tears: The chief of the first-ever human rights investigation of North Korea, Michael Kirby, said the inquiry uncovered “copious evidence” of human rights abuses in North Korea. “Some of the testimony has been extremely distressing. I am a judge of 35 years of experience and I have seen in that time a lot of melancholy court cases which somewhat harden ones heart,” said Kirby. “But even in my own case, there have been a number of testimonies which have moved me to tears.” Witnesses described such atrocities as a woman having to drown her baby, children starved and imprisoned from birth, and entire families tortured for watching foreign television. Though the inquiry repeatedly invited North Korean representatives to partake in public hearings and have an opportunity to question witnesses, North Korean officials have consistently declined, describing the investigation as a “political plot” and denying UN investigators access to the country. Most testimony during the inquiry has been obtained from North Koreans who have fled to South Korea seeking refuge. (BBC)
Britain refutes claims that Taylor is ill-treated in prison : Through their family spokesman Sando Johnson, the family of Charles Taylor held a press conference in Monrovia, claiming that British prison officers were withholding food and water from Taylor. Taylor was transferred to the British jail two weeks ago. “Information we got revealed that he is not given food and even water,” said Johnson. “If this continues for the next two days, Taylor may die in jail.” A spokeswoman for the British Prison Services has refuted the claims as “total nonsense.” Officials pointed out that under the terms of his sentence, representatives from the Committee for the Prevention of Torture are free to visit him at any time and monitor the conditions in which he is being kept. Taylor will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after being found guilty of supporting rebels during the Sierra Leonean civil war – during which 120,000 lives were lost – in exchange for diamonds. (AFP)
Thailand and Cambodia reaffirm amicable ties regardless of ICJ ruling on boarder dispute: Thailand and Cambodia reaffirmed their strong ties earlier this week prior to a ruling from the International Court of Justice regarding borders at the Preah Vihear Temple. The ruling, which will interpret the court’s 1962 ruling on the same matter, is due out November 11. Surapong Tovichakvchaikul, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister, said he held a talk with his Cambodian counterpart, Hor Nam Hong, and the two are making necessary preparations to safeguard peace along the border. He said that regardless of the November 11 ruling, the two countries will remain on good terms. Nam Hong gave similar assurances, stating that the relationship between the two countries would not be affected by the ruling, and he called on parties in both countries to accept the verdict in the name of peace. (Pattaya Mail)
Ruto responds to AU request for deferral: Mere days after the AU urged the permanent international court to defer the case against two Kenyan executives, Deputy President William Ruto reiterated his intention to cooperate fully with the ICC. On Tuesday, 15 October 2013, Ruto stated that he “more preferably . . . would want to work with the court’s decision to grant [the executives] excusal from continuous attendance” in The Hague. The AU, on the other hand, announced its plan to find alternate means of deferrral if the ICC did not delay the Kenyan President’s trial for one year pursuant to Rome Statute Article 16. (Voice of America).
Russian committee seeks termination of ICTY’s Mladic trial: A Russian committee established specifically to research the charges and legality of the ICTY’s case against Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic has requested the UN Security Council terminate the remaining proceedings. According to committee Chairman Pavel Dorohin, the Tribunal is prejudiced against Serbs and the judges consistently deny the accused fair trial rights. Mladic faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity over accusations the military leader directed attacks against civilians during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War. (In Serbia).
ICC witness in Ruto trial talks death, destruction: An ICC prosecution witness testified on Tuesday, 15 October 2013, to discovering dead bodies, some eaten by animals, and burnt down and looted houses in the wake of Kenya’s 2007 presidential election. The witnesses statements were presented as evidence in the shared trial against Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang for crimes against humanity. Ruto argued the “methodology of the prosecution to manipulate, buy and bribe witnesses in their bid to incriminate us in these allegations [was] appalling.” (All Africa).
Cambodia-Thailand land dispute to be resolved next month at ICJ: On 11 November 2013, the ICJ is expected to rule on the ownership of an area of land near the Cambodian and Thai border. The 4.6 square km disputed area is in close proximity to the Preah Vihear temple Cambodia was awarded in 1962 by the ICJ. Cambodia is prepared to cooperate with Thailand after the decision is issued and claims the verdict will not affect the country’s good relationship with its neighbor. (Global Times).
ICC judges to rule on admission of untried evidence: Former Vice President of the DRC Jean Pierre Bemba has filed motions challenging the prosecution’s request to admit nearly 3,000 pages of transcripts not previously admitted as evidence in the ICC trial. Bemba alleged the introduction of transcripts the defense had no opportunity to cross examine violates fair trial rights. The former Vice President argued the Court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence affords an accused the chance to “make submissions on reliability, probative value or prejudice of . . . potential new evidence.” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, however, argued the relevance and probative value of the evidence outweighed any potential prejudicial effect on Bemba. (Open Society Foundation).
Rwandan President criticizes ICC: Rwanda’s Paul Kagame is the latest African President to criticize the ICC for prosecuting sitting heads of state. In a recent African Review report, Kagame accused Western powers of unfairly targeting Africans and engaging in “selective” justice. Zimbabwe’s president previously warned Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta against attending his pending ICC trial in The Hague because of bias. (News 24).
WikiLeaks founder sparks potential suit between Ecuador and Britain: It has been reported that Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino is contemplating whether to bring action against Britain in the ICJ. Patino alleges the British government has continuously erred in denying WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange travel to Ecuador after his successful asylum application last year. Patino claims Britain is purposely delaying resolution of the case and this setback is negatively effecting Assange’s health. The WikiLeaks founder has been confined this past year to one room in Ecuador’s London embassy. (RT).
Kenyatta seeks trial via video link at ICC: On 9 October 2013, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Mohamed requested the ICC conduct proceedings in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta by video link. Amina stressed the need for the sitting head of state to be present in Kenya, especially during the country’s present instability. To date, the ICC has twice denied Kenyatta’s motions to be absence from the Hague. The trial for charges of crimes against humanity following Kenya’s violent 2007 election is expected to begin next month. (BBC News Africa).
Protestors swarm ICC at Gbagbo hearing: Ivorian supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo protested in The Hague on Wednesday, 9 October 2013. Chants repeating ”Gbago is the President of Ivory Coast. We shall camp here till he is released” and “Feedom Gbagbo” were heard outside the ICC during the former President’s hearings. Gbagbo faces charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 2010 Ivory Coast presidential election. (Standard Digital).
Bangladesh ex-minister gets life sentence: Former Minister of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party Abdul Alim has been sentenced to life in prison by the ICT this week. Tribunal Justice Obaidul Hassan noted the sentence would have been death absent Alim’s “poor health condition and disability.” Alim was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for offenses committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. (The Hindu).
ICC arrest warrant for Kenyan journalist: On 2 October 2013, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kenyan journalist Walter Barasa. Barasa allegedly bribed, harassed and threatened prosecution witnesses in the ICC case against Kenyan President William Ruto. Barasa claims he was asked to aid witness interviews by ICC staff but never personally participated in “coerci[ve] or unorthodox means.” The journalist intends to defend himself against the charge of interfering with the legal process, which could give rise to 5 years incarceration if found guilty. (ABC News).
UN reports on prison violence in Libya: The UN issued a report on Tuesday, 1 October 2013, condemning the ongoing abuse and torture in Libya’s prisons. The report, which detailed 27 detention center deaths and countless testimonies of physical abuse by the armed brigades, urges an immediate response by the Libyan government to transfer inmates. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced the “situation of detainees in Libya is alarming and while there has been some progress, there is an urgent need to renew efforts to prevent torture, investigate allegations of torture and prosecute those responsible.” (UN News Centre).
Costa Rica-Nicaragua border dispute back at ICJ: The ICJ has scheduled four days of hearings in mid-October to discuss the continuing border conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Costa Rica requested the meetings after Nicaragua military excavated two canals in Isla Portillos in violation of a 2011 ICJ precautionary measure. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has called for Nicaraguan personnel unlawfully on the wetlands to leave. (Inside Costa Rica).
Ethiopia publicizes discontent with ICC: Ethiopia, a non signatory of the Rome Statute, has again accused the ICC of being politically bias and only targeting leaders of Africa. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti argued Africa countries should be prosecuting their own leaders, without ICC involvement, in observance of AU recommendations. At this time, 34 African states are parties to the Rome Statute. However, the Kenyan government recently voted to withdraw from membership due to increasing dissatisfaction with the permanent international court. (Sudan Tribune).
Ruto trial begins at ICC: The ICC trial of Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua arap Sang commenced on Tuesday, 10 September 2013. Ruto and Sang are charged with ordering and directing attacks against an opposing ethnic group after the December 2007 Presidential election. During opening statements, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated evidence presented will prove Ruto and Sang’s acts were “not just random and spontaneous,” but rather, “a carefully planned, coordinated and executed, campaign of violence.” On rebuttal, Ruto and Sang argued the prosecution lacked credible evidence and unfairly targeted the Deputy President and radio presenter. (CNN).
ECCC victims seek U.N. aid: Civil Parties in the ECCC case against two senior Khmer Rouge leaders have requested direct assistance from the U.N. The request comes the same month national staff began a second strike over unpaid wages and Co-Prosecutor Andrew Cayley resigned. The civil parties voiced concern over the Cambodian government’s ability to financially support the Chambers and fear the trial will end without judgment. The parties claim the U.N. has a moral obligation to the ECCC and should step up “to ensure the . . . tribunal’s survival.” (The Cambodian Daily).
Venezuela officially withdraws from South American court: On 10 September 2013, Venezuela became the second South American country to effectively withdraw from membership in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has publicly referred to the Court as “a tool to protect US geopolitical interests,” welcomed the country’s departure. On the other hand, concerned U.N. and human rights groups are fearful the “withdrawal . . . could heighten political persecutions” in Venezuela. (WRAL.com).
Columbia to contest ICJ decision: On 9 September 2013, President Juan Manuel Santos announced Columbia’s intention to challenge the recent ICJ decision awarding Nicaragua a greater portion of the maritime territory in the Caribbean. Santos argued the Court’s ruling was ineffective absent “a new treaty . . . negotiated between the two nations.” Nicaragua has asked only that the two countries peaceably comply with the ICJ decision. (ABC News).
Pillay requests investigations into execution of Syrian government soldiers: Navi Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, issued a statement on 2 August 2013, calling for more investigations into human rights violations in Syria. Pillay’s statement came a week after several videos were uploaded online showing the execution of captured Syrian government soldiers in Khan Al-Assal by armed opposition groups. The Commissioner’s statement stressed the need for all sides of the conflict to conform to international law, which includes treating captured soldiers humanely. Pillay also warned that opposition groups are not “immune from prosecution” and the Commission established specifically to investigate and document human rights violations in Syria will continue to enforce its mandate.
Senegal court begins Habré investigations: On Monday, 19 August 2013, the special court in Senegal commenced a two-week investigation into alleged crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture during Hissène Habré’s 1982–90 Chadian presidency. The court is expected to visit prisons and mass killing sites in Chad, as well as hear testimony from victims and witnesses. Senegal was ordered by the ICJ in 2012 to initiate proceedings against Habré. The former dictator had been living in the country for 22 years in exile.
Taylor appeals judgment expected this September: A Liberian newspaper reported on Tuesday, 20 August, that former President Charles Taylor’s appeals judgment is expected sometime in September 2013. Taylor was sentenced by the SCSL last year to 50 years imprisonment for aiding and abetting the commission of serious violations of international law in Sierra Leone. The SCSL concluded hearings in Taylor’s appeal January 2013.
Nigeria’s ICC filing suggests attempted issuance of Bashir arrest warrant at AU Summit: An ICC filing made public on 19 August 2013, claims the Nigerian government was in the process of issuing an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir before he abruptly exited the country last month while attending an AU Summit. Nigeria’s filing stated Bashir appeared briefly during the opening session but was noticeably absent from the main event in which he was expected to speak. Officials are not sure if Bashir was aware of the pending arrest warrant prompting his sudden departure from the country. As a state party to the Rome Statute, Nigeria has a legal obligation to hand over Bashir to the ICC. The country initially argued it failed to apprehended Bashir at the Summit because of the AU resolution instructing members to disregard the ICC warrants.
ICC’s Ruto prosecution confirms forty-two witnesses: The prosecution in the ICC trial of Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang intends to present forty-two witnesses starting next month. This number is smaller than originally anticipated after four witnesses withdrew and the court ordered the prosecution to reduce its excessive case in chief. Ruto is required by the Court to be present in the Hague during the prosecution’s opening remarks set to begin on 10 September 2013. Ruto and Sang have been charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity after the disputed 2008 presidential election in Kenya.
UN expert visits Asean states seeking ECCC funding: U.N. special expert David Scheffer and Cambodian politician Keo Remy began a six-day tour of the southeast Asian nations this week to secure financial support for the ECCC. Currently, the Extraordinary Chambers faces a $2.9 million deficit and has been unable to pay national salaries. Scheffer “hope[s] that the national staff, who are clearly suffering as a consequence of non-payment . . . will bear with [the Chamber] as we find a means of payment. It is my highest priority.”