Archive for category Ivory Coast

1 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Karadzic trail closing statements: The ICTY heard closing arguments in the case against former Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic this week.  UN prosecutor Alan Tieger stated Karadzic was responsible, along with others, for cleansing Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats from Serb-claimed territories. Karadzic, conducting his own defense, took responsibility for crimes committed by the Republika Srpska but denied being aware of the killings. Karadzic faces charges of genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of wars for crimes committed during the 1992-1995 Bosnian conflict. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (Saudi Gazette, BBC News Europe).

ICTR confirms criminal responsibility and life sentence of Nzabonimana: On 29 September 2014, the ICTR Appeals Chamber confirmed a life sentence against Callixte Nzabonimana for conspiracy to commit genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide and extermination as a crime against humanity. The Appeals Chamber ordered Nzabonimana remain in the Tribunal’s custody until it is decided where the former Rwandan youth minister is to serve his sentence. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Public testimony ends at Ivory Coast Truth Commission: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, ended public testimony of at least eighty victims and perpetrators who spoke on the serious violations of international law committed following the 2000 presidential election in the Ivory Coast. The Ivory Coast truth commission was formed to investigate the bloody political violence after opposition leader Laurent Gbagbo was elected in 2000. (AFP).

ECCC accused appeal conviction and sentence: Defense for former leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphank, have appealed their life sentences for crimes against humanity for their roles in forced evacuations. The two ECCC accused denied the charges and argued the conviction was a miscarriage of justice. The second phase of the trial for genocide, forced labor and political purges is expected to being 17 October 2014. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (The Guardian, Phnom Penh Post).

ICC Judges reject Kenyatta request to skip status conference: ICC judges have rejected Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s request to miss the Court’s status conference because of conflicts. The ICC considered the status conference a “critical juncture” in the proceedings and requires the accused to be present. Kenyatta’s defense requested the status conference be rescheduled. (For more information on this topic, please click here) (All Africa).


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Charges confirmed against Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo:  The ICC has ordered Laurent Gbagbo, the former President of Cote d’Ivoire, to stand trial.  Gbagbo has been accused of masterminding the murder and rape of demonstrators in Abidjan, between December 2010 and April 2011.  At lease 3,000 people were killed during this period of violence.  (ICC, NYT, Reuters).  (For additional information about this topic, please click here, here.)

Sri Lanka War Crimes investigative team announced:  Navi Pillay has announced that Sandra Beidas will be coordinating the investigative team charged with probing into allegations of mass killings during the Sri Lankan civil war.  Beidas appears to be a somewhat controversial pick because of her expulsion from a UN mission in South Sudan amidst allegations of writing false reports about the conduct of the South Sudanese military.  The Sri Lankan government has yet to determine whether to allow the UN teams presence in the country.

Libya will pay victims reparations for rape:  A decree was issued during the middle of next week recognizing the mass rapes perpetrated during the 2011 Libyan revolution as war crimes.  Libya will pay rape survivors reparations.  In addition, those victims harmed during the reign of the Qaddafi regime will as lobe eligible for the compensation.

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UN may seek special tribunal on North Korea as alternative to ICC: On Sunday, 23 March 2014, a diplomatic source revealed that the UN is considering creating a special court to try North Korean leaders who have committed human rights violations against North Korean citizens. This would serve as an alternative to referring the issue to the ICC, a decision that would likely be vetoed by China. The creation of a court would occur by majority vote in the UN General Assembly. (Yonhap News Agency).

Libya announces trial date for former Gaddafi officials: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Libya announced that on 14 April 2014, 37 high-level aides of Muammar Gaddafi will be tried in domestic proceedings. Among those to stand trial are Seif al-Islam Gaddafi and Saadi Gaddafi, the two sons of Muammar Gaddafi; Abdullah Senussi, the former intelligence chief and brother-in-law of Muammar Gaddafi; and dozens of former aides of Muammar Gaddafi. Al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi are wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Libya in February 2011. The Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC previously rejected admissibility of al-Saddafi’s case, and based on complementarity, decided that he should instead be tried by Libyan authorities. Furthermore, the Pre-Trial Chamber rejected the challenge to the admissibility of Al-Islam Gaddafi’s case, deciding that his case would be heard before the ICC. However, both decisions were appealed, the outcomes of which are outstanding. Both al-Islam Gaddafi and al-Senussi have complained that their due process rights have been infringed, alleging that they have been denied access to counsel by the Libyan government. They have not been appointed counsel. On 6 March 2014, Saadi Gaddafi was extradited to Libya, and is now joined in the case to be heard before Libyan domestic courts. (Middle East Online).

US sends military planes to assist in hunt for LRA leader Kony: The U.S. will be sending military planes and additional special forces to Uganda this week in order to increase the search for LRA leader Joseph Kony. The U.S. is also offering a $5 million reward for Kony’s capture, and had previously sent forces to the area in 2011 to assist African troops in the search for Kony. The ICC has charged Kony with war crimes, and he is wanted for human rights abuses; namely, abducting children and forcing them to become child soldiers. (BBC).

Former Ivory Coast Youth Minister Goudé transferred to the ICC: On Monday, 24 March 2014, Charles Blé Goudé, the former Ivory Coast Youth Minister and former leader of the pro-Gbagbo militia group “Young Patriots”, was transferred from Ivory Coast to the ICC. He had been arrested and extradited to Ivory Coast on 17 January 2014. He is charged with committing four counts of crimes against humanity during the post-election violence in Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011. (Hirondelle News Agency).

Narcisse Arido makes initital appearance for ICC contempt proceedings: On 20 March 2014, Narcisse Arido, who was wanted by the ICC for offenses against the administration of justice allegedly committed concerning the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, appeared for the first time before the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC. Arido is charged with corruptly influenced ICC witnesses, of which he was informed during the appearance. The Defense was also present at the appearance, and Arido was represented by his lawyer. The determination of whether these charges will be confirmed or rejected will not be made on the basis of a hearing, but solely on the basis of the parties’ written submissions. (CPI-ICC).

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Ivory Coast transfers ICC suspect to The Hague:  The former youth leader of the “Young Patriots” and right-hand man of Ivorian ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, Charles Ble Goude, has been transferred from Abidjan to the holding cells of the ICC. Ble Goude faces four counts of crimes against humanity which are alleged to have taken place during post-electoral violence in 2010-2011. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, here.) (Aljazeera, Reuters, Google News).

Mladic Defense requests that two genocide charges be dropped:  The Mladic Defence and Prosecution teams have completed their Rule 98bis submissions. The Defence asked that two genocide counts be dismissed, as well as a variety of additional liabilities. Both teams now await an oral judgment on the Defence motion for acquittal. (ICTY).

ECCC denies Khieu Samphan trial delay request:  The request for a trial delay by Samphan was denied by the Tribunal. Samphan had wished that the trial be delayed until a verdict was reached in the first trial but in the effort of preserving the rights of the defendant, the Tribunal has denied the request. (VOA).

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16 January 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Hariri trial commences in The Hague: On Thursday, 16 January 2014, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon began proceedings related to the February 2005, assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut. Mustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hussein Oneissi and Assad Sabra, allegedly responsible for wounding some 200 people and killing 22 in the attack, were noticeably absent from the proceedings. The special court ruled in February 2012, that the at large suspects could be tried in absentia for, among other things, conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder. (CNN).

Pillay comments on Syrian killings: Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement on Thursday, 16 January 2014, concerning reported executions and unlawful killings of civilians in violation of international law in Syria. Pillay considered the reports “alarming” and feared the human rights abuses “may amount to war crimes.” The U.N. Commissioner warned that “[e]veryone involved in serious crimes must be held accountable.” (Global Post).

Ruto excused from ICC trial: On Wednesday, 15 January 2014, the ICC ruled that Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto may be excused from portions of his trial. The ruling comes after the ICC Assembly of States Party agreed to amend the court’s rules to allow senior officials to be excused from attendance. Ruto will be required to “be present for the entirety of the closing statement of all parties . . . when victims present their views and concerns in person . . . and the entirety of the delivery of the judgment.” The Deputy President is charged with crimes against humanity relating to violence after the 2007 Kenyan presidential election. (Chicago Tribune News).

War crimes committee to audit South Sudan and Central African Republic: Members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region met on Wednesday, 15 January 2014, to discuss the murders and sexual violence being committed in Southern Sudan and Central African Republic. The members agreed to organize a war crimes “audit” and increase support and resources to peacekeeping missions. To date, international organizations fear over 10,000 people have died and nearly 400,000 displaced since the fighting erupted in the two countries. (Bloomberg Businessweek).

Ivorian politician needs more time to respond to ICC transfer: On Monday, 13 January 2014, the Ivorian government moved the ICC for a three month extension to respond to its request over former Justice Minister Charles Blé Goudé’s transfer to The Hague. Blé Goudé argued his transfer would interfere with domestic proceedings in Côte d’Ivoire. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for the close alley of former President Laurent Gbagbo and accused him of war crimes relating to the post election civil war in 2010-2011. (All Africa).

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17 December 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC dismisses Prosecution appeal on decision to adjourn Gbagbo confirmation hearing:  On 16 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed an appeal lodged by the Prosecution against a decision by the Pre-Trial Chamber on 3 June 2013 which adjourned the confirmation hearing of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and requested the Prosecution submit additional evidence on specific incidents relating to the charges against Gbagbo.   The Appeals Chamber found that the Prosecution had failed to show that the Pre-Trial Chamber committed an error when treating 45 incidents relied on by the Prosecution as an Article 7 attack against a civilian population.

ICC rejects Prosecution appeal on amending temporal scope of Ruto, Sang charges: On 13 December 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber dismissed the appeal of the Prosecution in the case against William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang which contested the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision not allowing the Prosecution to amend the temporal scope of the charges against the two accused.  The Appeals Chamber found that once the charges against an accused are confirmed it is no longer possible to amend or add charges.  The Appeals Chamber confirmed that once the confirmation of charges is completed the only change that can be made to the charges is a recharacterisation of the facts while not exceeding the facts and circumstances of those described in the charges confirmed by the Pre-Trial Chamber.

Libya to allow US and UK authorities question ICC indicted Al-Senussi: Libya Justice Minister Salah Merghani has stated that Libya will allow authorities from the UK and US travel to Libya and question former Gaddafi Spy Chief Abdullah Al-Senussi over the 1988 bombing of a PanAm flight over Lockerbie Scotland.   When asked if Al-Senussi, who is indicted for crimes against humanity before the ICC, would be questioned, Merghani is quoted as saying “Yes this is the intention … What we are working on is finalizing the arrangements for this as much as obtaining the evidence that’s available with the UK and US authorities … We all need to know the facts.”

ICTY Seselj case continues after Judge Harhoff’s disqualification:  On 13 December 2013, the Trial Chamber of the ICTY decided that the trial against Vojislav Seselj would continue following the election of Judge  Mandiaye Niang to the bench.  Judge Niang was elected to the Trial Chamber after Judge Harhoff was disqualified on Seselj’s request.  The Trial Chamber noted that Judge Niang is capable of assessing the credibility of witnesses while becoming familiar with the case.

ECCC Prosecution issues list of potential witnesses:  On 17 December 2013 it was reported that Prosecutors on the ECCC case against Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan issued a confidential listed of 96 witnesses who will give evidence about Khamer Rouge detention facilities and work sites.  Witnesses are reported to include “Cambodian citizens, journalists, civil servants, military personnel, local authorities and monks” as well as seven experts and Kaing Kek leve (“Duch”) who was convicted by the ECCC and sentenced to life for crimes committed in Tuol Sleng prison.

UN Commission to be established for CAR crimes:  On 16 December 2013, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated that the United Nations will establish a commission which will investigate crimes committed in the Central African Republic; which Ban Ki-moon as said “descended into chaos” this year after the Government was overthrown in March.  Ban Ki-moon is quoted as saying he is “gravely concerned about the imminent danger of mass atrocities.”  Bi Ki-moon said that the presence of humanitarian efforts, including African and French troops, and human rights monitors has improved the situation, but that “we must do more to meet this test of global solidarity.”

Ireland in discussions with ICC on witness relocation program:  On 16 December 2013, Fatou Bensouda stated that the Government of Ireland is in negotiations with the ICC in order to establish a program which would relocate witnesses to Ireland after their testimony before the ICC.  Speaking from Dublin, the Prosecutor stated that “Protection of witnesses is one of the court’s main priorities and in this regard the conclusion of witness relocation agreements with the court is a practical way through which [states] can help the court meet this challenge.”

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25 November 2013 – DECISION REVIEW

Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court

 Decision Title: Fourth Decision on the Review of Laurent Gbagbo’s Detention Pursuant to Article 60(3) of the Rome Statute

Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber I

Case Name: Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo

 Date: 11 November 2013


Executive Summary:

  • Citing concerns over the defendant’s ongoing health issues, the Chamber postponed a final decision on granting Mr. Gbagbo conditional release until it has received a report detailing the defendant’s health requirements.

Principles found in decision:

  • A Chamber may order provisional or conditional release of a defendant if changed circumstances so warrant. A sufficient changed circumstance is a change in the facts relied upon in issuing the original detention order, or the introduction of new facts that the Court feels warrants a modification of its preexisting detention order.
  • In reviewing a detention order, the Court will only analyze claims showing changed circumstances, and will not revisit arguments made in previous submissions pertaining to the defendant’s detention.
  • The Court found that specific facts regarding the release of political prisoners in the Cote d’Ivoire did not per se change the grounds upon which the defendant was detained, but rather was a fact supporting the general conclusion that the security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire has improved
  • The improved security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire is a changed circumstance that impacts the grounds upon which the defendant has been detained


Decision Background: On 23 November 2011, the Court issued an arrest warrant against Laurent Gbagbo. Mr. Gbagbo was surrendered to the custody of the Court on 30 November 2011. In May 2012, the defense submitted a request for the defendant’s provisional release, which the Court rejected on 13 July 2012. The Court rejected a second request for conditional release based upon concerns for the defendant on 18 January 2013. The hearing on the confirmation of the charges was held from between 19 and 28 February 2013. The defense made a third request for defendant’s provisional release, which was denied by the Court in July 2013. On appeal in October 2013, the Appeals Chamber affirmed that denial.

On 31 October 2013, the defense submitted additional observations regarding facts relevant to a potential conditional release for the defendant, and again requested that the Court revisit the issue. 

Decision Review: The defendant’s main contention in its fourth request for his conditional release argues that new circumstances and facts have occurred that impact the basis on which his previous requests were denied. Specifically, the defense contends that the government of the Cote d’Ivoire has been advancing a reconciliatory policy vis-à-vis Gbagbo’s former opposition group, the FPI, that the government has engaged in talks with that group, and that as part of this reconciliatory policy, several senior FPI leaders have been released from the government’s custody.

The defense also noted that the situation in the Cote d’Ivoire has improved such that 10,000 refugees stationed in Liberia have since returned to the country. The defense noted that the Ivorian government has seen provisional release as a possibility, and thus no longer sees the defendant as a danger. The defense maintained that in this period of transition to peaceful dialogue between the FPI and the government, the Court must support the peace process currently afoot in the country, and must not take steps that would undermine that progress. The defense maintained that the Court must make account of the changed circumstances in the country when reassessing the defendant for provisional release. The defense also objected to the Prosecution’s contention that the fact that the defendant still has political supports in the country requires his continued detention. The defense argued that the Prosecutor has not presented any new evidence showing any risks inherent in allowing the release, and argued that the evidence used by the Prosecutor in her arguments was old, outdated, and did not reflect current circumstances. Finally, the defense renewed its concerns over the effects of continued detention on Mr. Gbagbo’s health.

The prosecutor in response argued that no new factual situations have arisen since the July 2013 that change the basis upon which release was denied. The prosecutor maintained that pursuant to the findings in those decisions, Mr. Gbagbo should remain in custody. The OPVC filed a motion in agreement with the Prosecutor, maintaining that no factual circumstances have changed that would justify Mr. Gbagbo’s provisional release.

Under Article 60(3), the Chamber must review an order of release or detention every 120 days. Under that provision, the Court may modify or repeal the order of detention or release, if changed circumstances so warrant. A “changed circumstance” means a change in some or all of the facts relied upon in issuing the original decision on detention or release, or the introduction of a new fact that the Chamber believes warrants a modification of its preexisting order. In reviewing submissions requesting that the Court repeal or amend its prior order, the Court will only look to arguments alleging changed circumstances, and will not reanalyze and reiterate arguments made in previous submissions and previous decisions.

Pursuant to these strictures, the Chamber limited itself to the review of claims relating to the alleged changed security situation in the Cote d’Ivoire. The Court noted that all parties were in agreement that the security situation has in fact improved. The Court rejected the defendant’s argument, however, that the fact that a number of FPI leaders have been release, per se impact the grounds upon which the defendant’s continued detention rests. The Court determined that this fact rather supports the more general conclusion of an improved security situation in the country. The Court determined that an improved security situation is a “changed circumstance” upon which a reevaluation of the detention order is warranted.

The Court determined that the improved security situation in the country, along with an absence of evidence that the defendant has attempted to continue to conduct criminal behavior from his place of detention, suggest that his continued detention for security reasons is no longer necessary. However, the Court determined that these changed circumstances do not address the Court’s alternative reason for holding Mr. Gbagbo, namely the danger of his tampering with or obstructing the investigation or court proceedings. Thus the Court determined that continued detention would be necessary. The Court noted, however, its continuing obligation under Article 58(1)(b) of the Statute to explore the possibility of conditional release for the defendant, if sufficient conditions can be imposed upon the release to militate against the risks posed by release.

Noting ongoing concerns with Mr. Gbagbo’s health, the Court decided to postpone a decision upon the possibility of conditional release for the defendant. The Court determined that it needs information regarding the defendant’s health-related needs and treatment requirements, before it can look into factors – such as a potential, adequate location of release – regarding granting provisional release. The Court therefore ordered the Registry and the Defense to submit, by 2 December 2013, a report on progress made towards determining the defendant’s health-related requirements. The Chamber stated that once the process of obtaining the necessary information on the defendant’s health has been completed, it will review the possibility of conditional release.

To access the full Decision, click here.

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