Archive for category ICTR

30 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Judge departs for health reasons:  Judge Hans-Peter Kaul has resigned from the ICC for health reasons.  Judge Kaul served as an ICC Judge for 11 years and was fundamental in the development of the ICC.  His resignation will take effect on 1 July 2014.  (ICC).

Prosecution and Defence in Katanga Trial abandon appeals:  The decision in The Prosecutor v. Germain Katagna.  The judgment is not final.  The decision made by the Defence for Germain Katanga and the Office of the Prosecutor to discontinue their appeals against the judgment of Trial Chamber II of the ICC on 25 June 2014.  (ICC).

UN Human Rights Office alarmed by Venezuela violence:  Continued reports of human rights violations reportedly taking place in Venezuela is of concern to the UN.  National human rights organizations estimate that more that 3,120 people were detained between February and May 2014.  The High Commissioner has called for Venezuelan authorities to respect the rights of those citizen involved in peaceful demonstrations.  The High Commissioner has also renewed his calls on the Government of Venezuela to accept all visit requests by UN experts.  (UN News).

HRW implores ICC to investigate crimes in CAR:  The CAR interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, formally asked the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation, acknowledging that Central African courts are not in a position to carry out necessary investigations.  The CAR has been in a state of acute crisis since 2013.  It is expected that the ICC prosecutor will accept the request.  (UN News).

ICTR affirms sentence against Bizimungu:  The ICTR unanimously affirmed the 30-year prison sentence for former army chief Augustin Bizimungu for his role in the 1994 genocide during which he called for the murder of minority Tutsis.  (Yahoo News).

 

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19 May 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Mladic Trial hears first defence witness The ICTY heard its first witness in the Ratko Mladic case.  Mladic has been charged with 11 offenses, ranging from hostage taking to genocide.  Mladic maintains his innocence.  (Aljazeera).

Gaddafi ICC Admissibility Decision expected from Appeals Chamber 21 May:  The Appeals Chamber of the ICC has scheduled a hearing on 21 May 2014 to deliver the judgment on the admissibility of the case against Gaddafi.  (ICC).

Rwanda Court begins first genocide case transferred from ICTR:  The genocide trial of Pastor Jean Uwinkindi is a first for the ICTR.  Uwinkindi is charged with genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity.  He is accused of killing Tutsis himself as well as ordering the execution of many others.  (Hirondelle).

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15 April 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY rejects Mladic’s Rule 98bis application and find case to answer: On Tuesday, 15 April 2014, Trial Chamber I of the ICTY rejected Ratko Mladic’s 98 bis application for acquittal, a rule under the Tribunal’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence that allows the Tribunal to acquit a defendant after an oral hearing if there exists no evidence to support a conviction. Upon dismissing the application, the Chamber held that even if Mladic has a defense to all of the counts against him, there is evidence to support all of the charges against him. (ICTY).

Libyan trial of Ex-Gaddafi Officials postponed amid concerns of a fair trial: On Monday, 14 April 2014, the Libyan government opened and subsequently adjourned the trial against Muammar Gaddafi’s sons and his former officials, due to incomplete investigations; particularly the investigation of evidence against Saadi Gaddafi remains incomplete. The case will proceed on 27 April 2014, in order to allow the investigators more preparation time and to set up video links for the sons and officials who were not brought to the court for security reasons. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International continue to express that the defendants’ right to a fair trial have been violated. The groups are concerned that not all of the defendants have had access to lawyers; that the defense teams have been restricted in their ability to assess evidence and case files; that interrogation strategies and detention conditions have been unfair; that Libya recently amended its Code of Criminal procedure to allow trials through video links, meaning the defendants, all of whom are being held in prisons and one of whom is being held in a secret location by a militia, will not physically appear at their trials; and that the Libyan justice system is generally unstable, in part because previous attacks against lawyers and judges in Libya have resulted in the suspension of courts throughout parts of Libya. The defense lawyers raised concerns about insufficient access to the case files in court. The ICC is still deliberating on the admissibility of the cases against Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi, and a decision from the Appeals Chamber on whether the Libyan government is able to try them is still outstanding. (Reuters) (For more information on this topic, please click here, here, and here).

Ruto trial hears from satellite imagery expert and breaks for Easter: Lars Bromley, a UN specialist in satellite imagery, testified before the ICC in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and Kenyan journalist Joshua Arap Sang, explaining that at least 506 buildings were deliberately burned down in the Rift Valley following the election, and that 190 more buildings were “possibly burnt.” He based his analysis on satellite images, the deliberate nature of the burnings being evident from burn patters. The defense disputed the expert’s testimony. The trial is currently on break for the Easter holiday, after which the prosecution will likely call a witness who was instrumental in the confirmation of charges against Ruto.  (Institute for War & Peace Reporting) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

Habre defense team says trial is politically motivated: The defense team of former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre claims that the reasons behind his prosecution in Senegal were political and instigated by a Chadian spy agency. Habre, who is charged with having committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and torture while he was in charge of Chad between 1982 and 1990, will stand trial in Senegal in 2015, where he was in exile for twelve years before being arrested last July. (Legalbrief Today).

ICTR Prosecutor asks for increased efforts to prosecute all suspects of 1994 crimes in Rwanda: In a commemoration address, Hassan Jallow, the chief prosecutor of the ICTR, asked for an increased effort to find and prosecute perpetrators of the genocide against Tutsis in 1994 who have not been tried, and that countries in which suspects of these crimes are located to transfer these alleged perpetrators to Rwanda in order to stand trial. He specifically mentioned Félicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, and Augustin Bizimana, all of whom are fugitives and suspected of having played significant roles in the genocide. (AllAfrica).

UN High Commissioner for HR expresses concerns for amnesties in Nepal: Following the Nepalese government’s drafting of a law that would create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Commission on Disappeared Persons, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that this legislation would allow these two panels to recommend amnesties for human rights abuses that occurred in Nepal. The government denies the existence of amnesty possibilities in the legislation, saying that amnesty would only occur with the victims’ consent. (Reuters).

Amnesty claims CAH and war crimes escalating in Nigeria: Amnesty International issued a report stating that violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria due to a higher number of attacks by Boko Haram and responses by Nigerian security forces, which has resulted in the death of at least 1,500 people since the beginning of the year. According the group, these events may be war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the group urged other countries, the African Union, and the UN to launch investigations into these acts. Amnesty International has documented attacks carried out by both Boko Haram and Nigerian security forces that occurred in January, February, and March 2014. (Amnesty International).

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18 March 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN panel lists individuals alleged to be accountable for crimes: On Tuesday, 18 March 2014, the head of the UN panel tasked with investigating human rights abuses committed in Syria said that the panel has identified individuals who were involved in the taking of hostages, executions, and torture in Syria and placed them on a “perpetrators list”. This list includes the heads of intelligence branches and detention facilities in which torture was carried out; military commanders who targeted civilians; airport officials under whose jurisdiction bomb attacks were planned and completed, and leaders of groups who targeted civilians. The panel was established by the UN HRC in order to investigate human rights abuses in Syria since March 2011, and to date, the panel has conducted over 2,700 interviews.  (Fox News).

China opposes UN HR Council Resolution on crimes in N. Korea: China rejected South Korea’s request for China to support a UN Resolution to refer North Korean officials who have allegedly committed human rights abuses within North Korea to the ICC. The U.S., EU, and Japan are in favor of bringing the issue before the UN Security Council in order to bring about a referral to the ICC; however, China may exercise its veto power. Following the UN Commission of Inquiry’s recent conclusion that high-level officials in North Korea have committed crimes against humanity, the UN HRC is expected to decide on a resolution concerning North Korea’s human rights record. (Yonhap News Agency).

Malta approves extradition of Serbian CAH suspect to Croatia: On Thursday, 13 March 2014, a Maltese court ruled that Eror Gojko—a Serbian construction worker who is charged with committing crimes against humanity, kidnapping, torture, and unlawful deportation to concentration camps between 1991 and 1993 in the former Yugoslavia—will be extradited to Croatia for trial. He consented to the extradition, and the Maltese court did not address his charges. The charges against him are related to the disappearance of at least 17 people. (Reuters).

Civil Society petition questions ICTR acquittals: 15 civil society groups have signed a petition addressed to the president of the UN Security Council, questioning the ICTR Appeals Chamber’s decision to acquit and reduce the sentences of political and military officials who had been convicted by the Trial Chamber for crimes committed during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The petition is specifically against Judge Theodore Meron, the presiding Judge of the ICTR Appeals Chamber. One of the organizations, Rwanda Civil Society Platform, expressed its disagreement with the acquittal of Justin Mugenzi, Prosper Mugiraneza, Protais Zigiranyirazo, Augustin Ndindiliyimana, and François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye, as well as the reduction of the sentences of Anatole Nsengiyumva and Aloys Ntabakuze. (allAfrica).

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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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18 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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