Archive for category Kenya
UN renews call for chemical weapons investigation in Syria: UN special envoy on the Middle East peace process Robert Serry says the United Nations remains “gravely concerned” about the allegations of chemical weapons use in the Syrian conflict. “Amid mounting reports on the use of chemical weapons, we once again urge the government of Syria to allow the investigation to proceed without further delay,” said Serry in a statement to the UN Security Council. An unnamed Western diplomat speaking on the condition of anonymity further stated that information would continue to be passed on to UN leader Ban Ki-moon, and said that the alleged chemical weapons attacks had occurred since the beginning of April. While Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government called for a UN investigation, they have continually blocked UN experts who seek access to all parts of the country to investigate these claims.
Kenyan ambassador stands behind open criticism of ICC: Kenyan ambassador to the UN Macharia Kamau has affirmed his criticism of the ICC as a failing institution in an open opinion published in The Nation yesterday. Macharia made similar criticisms of the Court earlier this month. Deputy President William Ruto – who is facing trial at the ICC – notably distanced himself from Kamau’s criticisms. “The main purpose of the ICC seems to be [to] advance the career interest[s] of a handful of jurists and academics, and to enrich international law jurisprudence. I can see no reason to sacricice the interests of Kenyans to such vain ends,” said Macharia, referencing the trials of Ruto and Kenya’s sitting president Uhuru Kenyatta.
TRJC Report names Kenyatta and Ruto: On 22 May 2013, the Kenyan Truth Reconciliation and Justice Commission released publically its Report which investigated Kenya’s post-election violence of 2007-2008 and made recommendations. The report named President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto in connection with the PEV but did not make recommendations on investigation and prosecution due to the fact that both face trial before the ICC. The report recommended that further investigations and prosecutions by the Kenyan authorities should be initiated against certain “high-profil personalities” within the Kenyan Government; naming newly appointed Minister of Mining Najib Balala and two senators for investigation. The Report asked President Kenyatta to issue a public apology for all human rights violations suffered by Kenyans since the country’s independence.
ICT of Bangladesh rejects Kaiser’s bail application: On Wednesday 22 May 2013, the ICT of Bangladesh rejected an application for bail made by Jatiya Party leader and former Minister of agriculture, Syed Mohammad Kaiser. Justice Obaidul Hassan, Justice Md Mozibur Rahman Miah and Justice M Shahinur Islam explained that bail was not granted in order to ensure a fair investigation into the Prosecution’s case. The defence’s bail application stated that Kaiser is in poor health and needed access to proper medical treatment, while the Prosecution countered that Kaiser’s influence in the community would affect the Prosecution’s investigation. The Court ordered the case to move forward and ordered the Prosecution to file a progress report by 17 June 2013.
Argentina charges former Ford Motors executives with CAH: On Tuesday 21 May 2013, Argentinian prosecutors charged three former executives of Ford Motors in Argentina with crimes against humanity relating to the kidnapping and torture of union workers following the 1976 military coup. Pedro Muller, Guillermo Galarraga and Hector Francisco Jesus Sibilla, the former factory director, human resources chief and security manager respectively, are accused with disclosing names, pictures, and home addresses to security forces who used this information to detain, torture and interrogate union workers at Ford Motors. All three accused were ordered to house arrest and bail was set at $142,000 each.
Habre lawyers file suit to prevent “illegal” prosecution: Former Chadian president Hissene Habre’s lawyers have filed a suit to prevent Senegal from prosecuting him in the Economic Community of West African States Community Court of Justice. Habre is accused of committing crimes against humanity, torture, and war crimes during the eight years he was in power in Chad, during which approximately 40,000 people were killed. Senegal and the African Union set up the regional court in December to try Habre .Habre is arguing that the court is “subservient to the Senegalese executive” and that the agreement between Dakar and the African Union is not based on “any legal ruling, national or international.”
Indonesian government officially rejects Rome Statute: Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusigiantoro has issued a statement blocking the ratification of the Rome Statute at this time, saying that the ratification was not urgent in light of Indonesian national legal instruments to serve as a foundation for human rights protection. “There are many countries, including major democratic countries, that have yet to ratify the Rome Statute, although there are equally a large number of countries that have adopted it. Therefore, we need more time to carefully and thoroughly review the pros and cons of the ratification,” said Purnomo.
Guatemala’s Constitutional Court annuls genocide conviction of former dictator: The top court in Guatemala has overturned the genocide conviction of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. Montt was found guilty earlier this month of genocide and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the massacre of over 1,700 indigenous Mayans during the early 1980’s. The court held that the trial must restart from the point earlier this year when the trial was temporarily suspended due to a judge’s dispute.
New judge appointed in Ruto case: The International Criminal Court has appointed a new Presiding Judge to oversee the trial of Deputy President William Ruto. Judge Olga Herrera Carbucci will temporarily replace Judge Kuniko Ozaki in both Ruto’s case and that of Kenyan radio journalist Joshua arap Sang. Judge Ozaki will now be handling the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “The decision of the presidency was taken to ensure the proper administration of justice, taking into consideration each Judge’s workload,” said a statement issued by Vice-President Judge Sanji Monageng.
Ruto and Sang appear in ICC status conference: On Tuesday 14 May 2013, ICC accused William Ruto and Joshua arap Sang appeared before the ICC Trial Chamber during a status conference to discuss the commencement of trial, appearance during trial and witness issues. William Ruto asked judges to waive his right of appearance and allow the Deputy President to appear once during the most important hearings. Making a short statement to the Court, Ruto emphasized his commitment to cooperate with the Court while stating “I am aware that my responsibility to the court as an individual must be balanced by my constitutional responsibility as Deputy President.” During the same status conference, Sang objected to an application by the Prosecution to recall two witnesses and add three new witnesses to the witness list. Sang also responded to the Prosecution’s proposal to limit the testimony of an investigator who is to be called before the Court to answer questions on issues concerning Prosecution witnesses. Both Ruto and Sang asked that the new trial date be set for November 2013 in order to allow the Defence to properly review Prosecution disclosure which the Defence says has been submitted late to the Defence. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Arrest of former Chadian police chief Djibrine welcomed: Campaigners and human rights groups in Chad have welcomed the arrest of the former head of the Directorate of Documentation and Security in Chad; former President Hissene Habre’s political police force during the 1980s. Djibrine is accused of the torture and killing of opposition activists in the 1980s, and was arrested based on a lawsuit filed by 13 Chadian individuals who suffered abuse under the leadership of Habre. It is unknown whether Djibrine will be tried domestically in Chad or in Senegal before the special tribunal created in conjunction with the African Union to try Habre.
ICC Prosecutor denies witness allegations and pressures Kenya’s cooperation: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has denied allegations that witnesses have given the Court false information following the recent withdrawal of witness testimony by several witnesses who gave information against President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto. Bensouda stated that she is “not aware of any witness that has given false information to the ICC.” This week Bensouda also stated while in Geneva that the ICC maintains expectations that Kenya will cooperate with the prosecution on the cases. Bensouda stated “I have been very clear all the time about this matter. I have stated that what we want is the full and unwavering cooperation of the Kenyan Government. In the event that this doesn’t happen, we will have no option but to bring the matter to the attention of the Chamber for direction.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
HRW urges India to protect witness before ICT of Bangladesh: HRW has urged the Government of India to protect Bangladeshi national, Shukhoranjan Bali, who is said to be a key defence witness to the ICT of Bangladesh and was reported missing just before he was due to give testimony before the Tribunal. HRW alleged that Bali was abducted and forced to enter India where he was arrested for entering the country illegally. HRW stated “The apparent abduction of a witness in a trial at the ICT is a cause for serious concern about the conduct of the prosecution, judges and government.” Bali claims he was abducted while at the courthouse by police and held in the custody of the Bangladeshi authorities for several weeks before being forced to enter India. Bali has completed his 110 day sentence for entering India illegally but continues to be held in detention. HRW asked that Bali not be returned to Bangladesh before a possible claim for asylum can be heard by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Argentinian convicted of CAH dies in prison: It is reported that Argentina’s former military leader Jorge Rafael Videla has died of natural causes in an Argentinian prison. Videla, 87, was serving a life since 2010 for the crimes against humanity related to his responsibility for the death of 31 individuals during Argentinian’s military rule from 1976 to 1983. The period from 1976 to 1983 is known for the regime’s “dirty war” which resulted in the torture and killing of over 30,000 people. In 1985 Videla was sentence to life in prison for murder, torture and other crimes but was pardoned due to an amnesty in 1990. In 2010 Argentina’s Supreme Court reinstated his life sentence by upholding a 2007 federal initiate which overturned Videla’s pardon.
ICC opens preliminary investigation of complaint against Israel: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda met with lawyers representing the African state of Comoros yesterday in response to Comoros’ complaint about Israel’s raid on a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza. Bensouda said she will open a preliminary investigation. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed and several Palestinian activists wounded when Israeli commandos raided the ship, which was registered in Comoros. “My office will be conducting a preliminary examination in order to establish whether the criteria for opening an investigation are met,” said Bensouda. “After careful analysis of all available information, I shall make a determination that will be made public in due course.”
Ruto pledges Kenya’s commitment to ICC : Deputy President William Ruto pledged Kenya’s continued support and commitment to the ICC, while maintaining that in his own case, he was a “victim of a conspiracy of lies.” Ruto faces three charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the post-election violence that lead to over a thousand deaths. “The new administration, popularly elected in free and fair elections, will continue to cooperate with the court,” said Ruto to the ICC. “The president [Kenyatta – who also faces charges at the ICC] and I firmly believe in the rule of law and that the truth must be found.”
Kenyan AG to lead delegation to ICC in wake of Kamau letter: Kenyan attorney General Githu Muigai will travel to the Hague this week to meet with ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. The Kenyan government was recently forced to disown a letter sent by Macharia Kamau, the country’s permanent representative at the United Nations, asking the U.N. Security Council to terminate the cases against three Kenyans at the ICC, including the country’s President and Deputy President. “The official position of the Kenyan government is that it has cooperated fully with the ICC and intends to continue cooperating within the framework of the Rome Statute and International law. The government applied to co-operate with the court and we were granted. In pursuit of this, a high powered government delegation will be at The Hague next Wednesday to meet court officials,” said AG Muigai.
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Decision on defense application pursuant to Article 64(4) and related requests
Chamber: Trial Chamber V
Case Name: The Prosecutor v. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta
Date: 26 April 2013
Decision Background: On 23 January 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber II for the Court confirmed charges of crimes against humanity against Uhuru Kenyatta. On 9 July 2012, the Trial Chamber set the trial commencement date at 11 April 2013. On 5 February 2013, the defense for Mr. Kenyatta filed an application with the Chamber, challenging the validity of the confirmation of the charges against Kenyatta, and asked that the confirmation decision be referred back to the Pre-Trial Chamber for reconsideration. On 20 February 2013, the defense again submitted a request to the court, asking that the 11 April trial date be vacated. At a status hearing on 7 March 2013, in response to several claims raised by the defense, the court vacated the 11 April trial date, and provisionally re-set the date for trial at 9 July 2013. On 11 March 2013, the Prosecution announced that it was withdrawing charges against Francis Kirimi Muthaura, who had been charged as a co-conspirator with Kenyatta.
Pursuant to the latest developments regarding the dismissal of the charges against Muthaura, on 28 March 2013, Kenyatta petitioned the court, asking that the Chamber terminate the proceedings against him, stay the proceedings, or remit the case back to the Pre-trial Chamber for reconsideration, pursuant to Article 64(4) of the Statute.
The Kenyatta defense advanced four grounds upon which he petitioned for the requested relief.
The defense first argued that the Prosecution committed grave error, and potentially acted in bad faith, when it neglected to disclose to the defense potentially exculpatory information. Namely, the defense pointed to the recant of Witness 4’s testimony, which had been used as evidence in the confirmation hearing. Witness 4 withdrew testimony regarding his presence at a meeting in 2007, at which he testified that Kenyatta had been in attendance. This meeting was important to the Prosecution case, as they argued that part of the conspiracy or plan to engage in post-election violence had been formulated at this meeting. The recantation of this testimony, however, was not disclosed to the defense until after the confirmation hearing. Likewise, the Prosecution failed to notice the inconsistencies in the testimony until late in the proceedings.
The defense argued that the non-disclosure constituted a serious “clear and systematic failure” by the Prosecution’s investigation, that fundamentally called into question the credibility and strength of the evidence used to confirm the charges against Kenyatta. The defense noted that the Pre-trial Chamber, in confirming the charges, relied heavily upon Witness 4’s testimony. The defense argued that the defects in the Prosecution’s investigatory practices and failure to turn over the relevant material to the defense, will have far-reaching and negative effects on the proceedings against Kenyatta and on the credibility of the court generally.
The second issue also related to the problems with Witness 4’s testimony. Namely, the defense pointed to the inconsistencies given by Witness 4, who first testified to the 2007 meeting, then recanted his testimony. The defense argues that the evidence given by Witness 4 was thus not substantial enough to hold up at the confirmation hearing, and that without the evidence of Witness 4’s testimony, the evidence against Kenyatta was insufficient such that the Pre-trial Chamber would not have confirmed the charges against him.
For the third alleged defect in the Prosecution’s case, the defense took issue with the Prosecution’s “protracted” investigation. Namely the defense argued that the even after the confirmation hearing, the Prosecution continued to engage in significant investigatory action, which resulted in the nature of the case against Kenyatta “fundamentally changing,” and thus leaving the defense with inadequate time to prepare in response to the Prosecution’s “shifting” case. The defense argued that the Prosecution had ample time to collect evidence and engage in investigation before the confirmation hearing, and the fact that it did not so do “with reasonable diligence” undermines the confirmation process. The defense argued that the Prosecution’s failures in this area violated the defendant’s rights under Article 67(2) of the Statute, and failed to comply with Court jurisprudence on the Prosecution’s investigative duties.
Finally, the defense argued that the dismissal of charges against Muthaura fundamentally changes or calls into question the case against Kenyatta. Namely, the defense argues that the dismissal of charges against Muthaura acts as an admission by the Prosecution of insufficient evidence of wrongdoing by Muthaura. Since Muthaura and Kenyatta were initially charged as co-conspirators to the same crimes, the admittance of insufficient evidence in Muthaura’s case necessarily also reveals an insufficiency of evidence to sustain the charges against Kenyatta, who was said to have acted in concert with Muthaura. In support of this argument, the defense again highlighted the problems with Witness 4’s testimony in establishing the factuality of the meeting at which the common plan was said to have formed.
In addition to the reliefs requested in the 28 March application to the court, the defense also asked in its most recent 64(4) Application that the Prosecution be reprimanded for its non-disclosure of Witness 4’s affidavit, in which the recantation was present, to the defense until significantly after the confirmation hearing. Although the Chamber reprimanded the defense for failing to formally list reprimand as a relief in its document, given the seriousness of the Prosecution’s alleged misconduct, the Chamber noted that it will entertain the arguments relating to reprimand.
Decision Review: The Chamber first reviewed the defense’s request for termination or an unconditional “stay” of the proceedings against him, in light of the issues raised. The Chamber first noted that, however the relief was characterized, it would result in a permanent cessation of the case against Kenyatta. As such, the Chamber decided to address termination or “unconditional stay” as one and the same.
A termination is usually argued for when the defense believes that for various reasons, a fair trial for the accused is impossible, at the present time or any time in the future. While the Chamber stated that the defense failed to specifically lay out the reasons for this relief (why the proceedings would be unfair), it gathered that it was based on the defense’s arguments of insufficient evidence. The Chamber noted that under Article 85(3), it has the power to terminate or stay proceedings where continuing with the case would cause a “grave and manifest miscarriage of justice” due to serious violations of the accused’s rights. Likewise, a Chamber need not find that the Prosecution acted in bad faith, only that the effects of certain actions violate the defense’s rights to such an extent that the essential conditions for a fair trial are permanently absent.
On the other hand, the Chamber noted that a conditional, rather than permanent, stay of proceedings is also an option, and most appropriate in situations where current defects to the defense’s rights exist, but may be remedied in the future. The court noted that not every violation of a defendant’s rights warrant a permanent stay or termination of the case: termination is an exceptional remedy of last resort, and often less severe remedies are sufficiently available to counteract the unfairness to a defendant, without cancelling the entire case.
The Chamber found that the Prosecution’s conduct in failing to disclose the information regarding Witness 4’s testimony to the defense until much after the confirmation hearing, created a “cause for serious concern,” and implicated both the integrity of the court proceedings, and Kenyatta’s rights as a defendant. However, the Chamber found that the problems caused by the Prosecution’s failures could be remedied at trial. Namely, the Prosecution would no longer be calling Witness 4, and the defense, in making its case, would be free to challenge the credibility and strength of the Prosecution’s evidence, particularly in light of the lack of Witness 4’s testimony. Furthermore, the Chamber did not find evidence of deliberate bad faith on the Prosecution’s part. The Chamber thus found that a stay or termination of proceedings, in this instance, would be disproportionate to the harm done, especially in light of the opportunities the defense will have to address the problems with the Prosecution’s case at trial.
Regarding the defense’s request to have the case referred back to the Pre-trial Chamber, the court noted that the Statute gives the Pre-trial Chamber jurisdiction over “preliminary issues” in a case. To refer an issue back to the Pre-trial Chamber, the Trial Chamber must be satisfied that the issue is a preliminary issue, and that referral is “necessary” for the “effective and fair functioning” of the Chamber. The validity of the confirmation hearing as a “preliminary issue” was not contested by the parties. The Chamber thus had to consider whether referral was necessary for the fair functioning of the trial, which necessitated looking at the merit’s of the defense’s arguments. The Chamber noted, however, that it would not go beyond a prima facie analysis of the defense’s claims. It will only refer the issue back to the Pre-trial Chamber if it is clearly self-evident that no reasonable Pre-trial Chamber could have come to the same conclusion it originally did, in light of the new or changed evidence.
The Chamber found that it is not necessary to remand the case back to the Pre-trial Chamber. The Trial Chamber found that issues with the case came to a head while the case was under the Trial Chamber’s competence; as such, the Trial Chamber found that it would be competent to review and resolve any issues with the proceedings. The Chamber found, however, that it is not within its competence to reconsider the evidence presented at the confirmation hearing, and redo the credibility assessments made by the Pre-trial Chamber. The Chamber reprimanded the defense for essentially attempting to use the Chamber, through a referral to the Pre-trial Chamber, as a defacto appeals court, to appeal the confirmation hearing decision, which it had previously attempted to do through the regular channels, and had failed. The Chamber did not agree with the defense that the issues with Witness 4 materially impacted the confirmation hearings.
In regards to the defense’ request for a reprimand, the Chamber noted that while not explicitly granted to it in the Statute, the Chamber does generally retain the right to issue a reprimand and a warning to the Prosecution for a failure to identify and disclose potentially exculpatory information, or information that affects the credibility of the Prosecution’s evidence. The Chamber also noted that the disclosure of potentially exculpatory information to the defense is a “fundamental aspect of the accused’s right to a fair trial.” The Chamber noted that it is clearly appropriate to issue such reprimands and warnings in cases where the Prosecution has clearly violated these obligations. Likewise, in certain situations, it can also be appropriate for the Chamber to order additional, more stringent sanctions, along with the reprimand.
The Chamber found that the most prudent remedy was a reprimand to the Prosecution. In reaching its decision, the Chamber took particular issue with the amount of evidence that the Prosecution gathered after the confirmation hearing, a point at which the vast majority of the investigation is supposed to be completed. Although the Prosecution is allowed to do some investigating after the hearing, if circumstances prior to the hearing made investigation in a given area difficult or impossible, this exception is not unlimited. The majority of the court found that the Prosecution should have and could have been more thorough in its pre-confirmation-hearing investigation, and the decision spent a significant amount of time chastising the Prosecution for its failure to act with reasonable diligence. The Chamber did, however, acknowledge the special difficulties presented to the Prosecution in conducting its investigation – namely, the unstable security situation in Kenya—and seemed to discount the Prosecution’s failure to act more quickly.
Along with the reprimand, the Chamber ordered the Prosecution to conduct a complete review of its case file, and certify to the court that it had done so, to ensure that no further violations of its disclosure obligations occur. It also ordered the Prosecution to make any necessary changes to its internal review system, as the Chamber found that it was deficiencies in the review system that lead to the oversights and non-disclosure of important information. Finally, due to the marge amount of investigation that the Prosecution engaged in after the confirmation hearing, the Chamber found that an appropriate remedy would be to allow the defense more time to conduct its own investigation and prepare for trial in light of the new evidence that was gathered after the confirmation hearing. While the Chamber typically finds three months as sufficient for additional time to prepare for trial, given the circumstances of the case, the Chamber will consult the defense regarding its needs to prepare for trial, before setting the new date, which tentatively remains at 9 July 2013.
To access the full Decision, click here
Guatemalan Tribunal finds first head of state guilty of genocide: On 10 May 2013, a three judge tribunal in Guatemala found the country’s former military leader Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for his responsibility of ordering the killing of 1,771 Ixil Maya people in 1982 and 1983. Rios Montt was sentenced to 50 years for his conviction on genocide charges, and 30 years for the crimes against humanity charges. Though other international crimes tribunals have delivered convictions on the crime of genocide, Rios Montt is the first former head of state to be convicted of genocide. Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, Rios Montt’s former military intelligence chief who was tried with Rios Montt, was acquitted of the charges against him. Rios Montt is said to have been in power during the most violence phase of Guatemala’s civil war which lasted from 1960 to 1996.
Second witness withdraws testimony against Ruto: It is reported that a second ICC witness has informed the ICC Prosecution of his unwillingness to testify for the Prosecution against Kenya Deputy President William Ruto. In an affidavit sent to the ICC, the witness explained that he was a PNU official who was “induced and enticed” to be a witness when the ICC promised to reward him for his testimony by relocated him to America, Australian or Europe and promising that his standard of living would improve.
Haiti’s Duvalier trial enters preliminary observations proceedings: On 9 May 2013, the President of the Haitian Court of Appeal, Judge Jean Joseph Lebrun, moved the trial against former Haitian leader Jean Claude Duvalier from complaint proceedings into the preliminary observations proceedings. Duvalier is being prosecuted for crimes against humanity and misappropriation of public funds. The trial has heard complaints from victims and family members of victims who were tortured and abused in detention under Duvalier’s regime. The preliminary observations phase is set to begin 16 May 2013.
Chad agrees to allow investigations in Chad for Habre trial: On 9 May 2013, Chad’s Justice Minister Jean-Bernard Badare signed an agreement with Senegal’s Justice Minister Aminate Toure which will allow investigations in Chad to be used in the prosecution of former Chadian leader Hissene Habre trial before the Extraordinary African Chambers in Senegal. The agreement guarantees that judges from the Extraordinary African Chambers are allowed to travel to Chad, speak with witnesses and conduct prison visits.
Posted by iclmediareview in Admissibility / Primacy, Crimes against Humanity, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gaddafi, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICT of Bangladesh, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, North Korea, Torture, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on May 9, 2013
Bensouda addresses UNSC on Libya trials as Al-Senussi’s family pleads for access: On 8 May 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressed the UN Security Council on Libya proceedings before the ICC. Bensouda referred to the current cases against Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi as Libya’s “Nuremberg moment”; stating that “By conducting fair, just, and transparent judicial proceedings for all alleged perpetrators, while also continuing to respect the ICC judicial process, Libya can set a lasting example for other States.” Bensouda also told the Security Council that the ICC Prosecutor’s Office is conducting on-going investigation into other crimes in Libya and against other Gaddafi officials who are outside of Libya. Bensouda said that her office would decide whether to lodge a new case in the “near future.” Bensouda highlighted Libya’s close cooperation with the Prosecution by citing to a recent visit to the ICC by Libya’s new Prosecutor General and Libya’s ICC focal point, and noting that she will be travelling to Libya soon. Bensouda’s address was followed on 9 May 2013, by a statement from the family of Abdullah Al-Senussi which urged Libya to allow Al-Senussi access to his lawyers and family. The statement emphasised that Al-Senussi has not been granted any access to legal representation during his detention and likened his detention to “passive torture.” (For additional information on this topic, please 1. click here, and 2. click here).
Kenya’s UN representatives ask for ICC trials to be terminated: On 2 May 2013 Kenyan Permanent Representative to the UN Macharia Kamau wrote UNSC President Menan Kodjo a confidential letter which asked the UN Security Council to terminate the cases against Uhuru Kenyatta, William Ruto and Josua arap Sang. Kamau asked that his petition be presented to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Besounda during her visit to the UN Security Council this week. The letter is reported to say: “What this delegation is asking for is not deferral. What this delegation is asking for is the immediate termination of the case at the Hague without much further ado.” Kamau’s letter is followed by a statement to the UN General Assembly last month by Kenya’s deputy Permanent representative Koki Muli Grignon who questioned the Court’s performance. In response to the letter, lawyers for accused William Ruto distanced Ruto from the plea, saying that “I have spoken to my client, His Excellency the Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya, Mr William Ruto, and I can confirm and he has made clear that he was not consulted on anything to do with New York. A letter being circulated is not government policy … His Excellency the Deputy President believes in the rule of law and he believes in Kenya observing its international obligations.” Bensouda dismissed the letter stating that: “The letter referred to by the Permanent Representative of Rwanda has not been transmitted to us. We therefore reserve our right to respond to it in detail in due course and we hope that will be given that opportunity once it has been transmitted to us.” (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
ICT of Bangladesh sentences Kamaruzzaman to death: On Thursday 9 May 2013, the ICT of Bangladesh handed down its fourth death sentence. In a packed courtroom in Dhaka, Muhammad Kamaruzzaman was convicted of five counts of mass killings, rape, torture and kidnapping and sentenced to death. Kamaruzzaman’s charges related to the death of at least 183 persons in Sherpur in northern Bangladesh during the 1971 independence war. As the fourth death sentence to be handed down since January, it is feared that today’s verdict will prompt another wave of violence in Bangladesh. Defence lawyer Ehsan Siddiky said that his client would pursue an appeal in what he claimed was a politically motivated trial. Kamaruzzaman will have one month to lodge his appeal.
Charges against Kenyatta amended: The ICC Prosecution has filed a new document containing charges (DCC) and pre-trial brief in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta which add charges of gun killings in Naivasha and Nakuru. In March 2013, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber granted the Prosecution the opportunity to amend the charges to include gunshot crimes. The charges now allege that the Mungiki and PNU youth were deployed to areas near Nakuru where guns, machetes, knives, broken bottles and petrol bombs were used to kill and mutilate victims.
UN HR Council names North Korea crimes probe team: The UN Human Rights Council has named a three member team to investigate alleged abuses in North Korea. Following a mandate set by the UN Human Rights Council during its March session, the Council named former Australian judge Michael Kirby, Serbian human rights campaigner Sonja Biserko and an Indonesian Marzuki Darusman who has been monitoring abuses in North Korea for the UN HR Council since 2010. The team has been mandated to investigate “systematic, widespread and grave violations” and ensure “full accountability, in particular for violations which may amount to crimes against humanity.”
Guatemalan CAH trial enters into closing arguments: The trial against José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez has entered its 26th session and proceeded to closing arguments after beginning in March and hearing the testimony of 90 Ixil Maya victims. The trial has heard testimony from victims who have recounted evidence of rape, assassination, torture, and infanticide relating to the charges. Since beginning proceedings, the trial has had several delays at the defence’s request.
Chad allows investigation into alleged war crimes: On 4 May 2013, it was announced Senegal and Chad have signed an agreement allowing Senegal to carry out an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre in the 1980s. Habre was in power from 1982 until a 1990 military coup. He is accused being responsible for more than 40,000 political killings, torture and other human rights violations. The former dictator has been living under house arrest in Dakar, Senegal, since 1994.
(For additional information on this topic, please click here)
Bemba trial stalls: On 3 May 2013, it was announced once again that the Jean-Pierre Bemba trial at the ICC has stalled, as the defense continues to experience difficulties in getting witnesses to appear before the court. The latest witness failed to appear by video link did as a result of a fear for his security in the country he was based. An ex parte status conference to be attended by the defense, the Registry and the VWU has been scheduled to hear further discussions on the scheduling and the appearance of witnesses.
Kenyatta plans official visit to London: On 5 May 2013, it was confirmed that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will be making a three-day official visit to London for a conference on Somalia. Kenyatta is currently facing trial in front of the ICC for allegedly participating in crimes against humanity which occurred during the 2007-2008 Kenyan elections. London has a policy of only essential contact with anyone charged by the ICC.
Saif al-Islam appears in court: On 3 May 2013, it was reported that the son of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared in court in the town of Zintan last Thursday. Saif al-Islam is wanted by the ICC for war crimes charges but the trial in Zintan relates to a matter of national security according to the armed group in Zintan. The ICC lawyer, Australian Melinda Taylor, was herself detained for three weeks after a meeting in which Saif al-Islam is accused of handing over sensitive papers and information. ICC lawyers are skeptical of whether a fair trial can be achieved and consider likely that if convicted, Saif al-Islam will receive the death penalty.
Kenya truth commission: On 3 May 2013, it was announced that a report investigating violence and human rights abuses in Kenya will recommend prosecutions but will retain its primary focus of truth and healing. The Truth Reconciliation and Justice Commission has looked at past injustices going as far back as 1963. Ahmed Sheikh Farah, a member of the commission, says that the mandate of the commission has been to investigate and appropriate action on human rights abuses, politically motivated violence, assassinations, and corruption and land disputes.
UN official applauds talks between Sudan and South Sudan: On 25 April 2013, it was announced by the top UN humanitarian official in Sudan that The Government and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) spoke directly at a meeting under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel in Addis Ababa on 22 and 23 April. Aid, which has not reached the Blue Nile state for over two years, finally began to flow earlier this month. The UN states that it is ready to provide immediate relief to the region once access opens up.
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Judge hearing Kenyatta Case removes herself, criticizing prosecution: On 27 April 2013, it was confirmed that ICC judge, Christine Van Den Wyngaert, asked to be excused from hearing the crimes against humanity case against William Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta. The reason for her resignation cannot be confirmed but the judge has made critical comments about the prosecution and its failure to comply with obligations for conducting a full and thorough investigation of the case against the two Kenyans. The cases now will be heard in The Hague-based court by Judge Robert Fremr, who replaces Van Den Wyngaert, presiding Judge Kuniko Ozaki and Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. In a majority decision the trial chamber agreed that charges against Kenyatta will remain as confirmed for the trial set for July 9 this year.
Warlords plundering Ivory Coast exports: On 28 April 2013, UN officials announced Warlord military commanders in Ivory Coast are currently making hundreds of millions of dollars by plundering the country’s exports of cocoa and other resources. The UN issued report has called on the Ivory Coast government to “take all measures necessary to curb the large-scale smuggling of cocoa, cashew nuts, cotton, timber, gold and all commodities illegally exiting or entering the country, in particular across the borders with Ghana.” The report also said that while Forces Nouvelles dominates the military, Liberian mercenaries and Gbagbo activists in Ghana still remain a security threat.
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