Archive for category Kenya

23 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria ready to publish names of alleged perpetrators: Investigators on the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria are prepared to release four lists documenting the names of individuals and groups allegedly guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity since conflict erupted in Syria in March 2011.  The lists have been safeguarded at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva and allegedly include names of several senior commanders and armed group leaders.  Commission investigators said “Not to publish the names at this juncture of the investigation would be to reinforce the impunity that the commission was mandated to combat.” (The Telegraph).

Sri Lanka Parliament passes witness protection law ahead of war crimes investigations: The new Sri Lankan government has passed a witness protection law to assist with national investigations into war crimes allegedly committed during the end of the country’s 26-year civil war. The law requires the government to establish safe houses to allow people to give evidence and participate in the national investigations. The Sri Lankan government has received pressure from the international community to fully investigate and prosecute crimes. The U.N. Human Rights Council recently delayed the release of a report investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka. (First Post).

Body of ICC witness possibly found: It is being reported that a body found in Tsavo National Park in Kenya may be that of a missing defence witness in the ICC case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto.  ICC defence witness Meshack Yebei went missing on 28 December 2014 after leaving ICC protection.  Final identification of the body by family and DNA samples is ongoing.  (All Africa).

ICTY accused Hadzic asks for leave for medical treatment: Former president of the Republic of Serbian Krajina, Goran Hadzic, has requested provisional release from the ICTY in order to undergo chemotherapy for cancer. Hadzic’s defence argued the accused will be unable to attend the trial for months as it would negatively affect his health during chemotherapy. The former president is on trial for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the 1991-1995 conflict in Croatia. (InSerbia).

HR Advocacy groups lobby CAR Government to establish Special Court: Human rights advocacy groups are urging the Central African Republic’s government to adopt a law establishing a Special Criminal Court to prosecute those responsible for serious violations of international and human rights law. The Special Criminal Court would be part of the country’s national judicial system and consist of 14 national and 13 international judges.  The human rights advocacy groups believe such a court will “strengthen” the country’s judicial system and “constitutes a balanced and innovative initiative to support the Central African judicial system, which is ravaged by the conflict triggered in 2012 by the armed groups in the northern part of the country.”  (Jurist).

Ongwen discloses meeting with Kony in December 2014:  A report by the Switzerland-based group Smalls Arms Survey states that Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen admitted meeting with LRA leader Joseph Kony near Darfur in December 2014. Ongwen first appeared before the ICC on 26 January 2015, after surrending to U.S. troops in the Central African Republic.  Ongwen faces seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges. (Sudan Tribune).

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3 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICJ dismisses genocide claims for both Serbia and Croatia: On 3 February 2015, the International Court of Justice provided its verdict on the genocide claims during the Balkan Wars in 1991-1995. The ICJ stated that neither Serbia, nor Croatia, committed genocide on one another’s populations. Peter Tomka, president of the ICJ, stated that the intent to commit genocide against one another’s country had simply not been met. (Reuters, BBC) (for further information please click here)

Schabas resigns as head of Israel/Gaza Inquiry over allegations of bias: William Schabas, head of the United Nations inquiry over the conflict between Israel and Gaza, stated he would step down from his position. Israel claimed that Schabas was biased against them and had a long history as a critic of the country and its current leadership. Schabas stated he would step down so as not to overshadow the importance of the upcoming report. (Aljazeera)

HRW report on Egypt HR abuses says President Al-Sisi has overseen reversal of rights: Human Rights Watch published its 2015 World Report last Thursday that claimed that Egypt’s current human right’s situation is the “most serious in the country’s history.” The HRW report states that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has overseen a reversal of human rights through mass killings by his security forces and imprisonment of protestors. The HRW report also outlines a decline in human rights through violence against women, discrimination, and a decline in freedom of religion, association, expression, and assembly. Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW Middle East and North Africa director, stated, “the situation…is getting worse [every] day.” (Daily News Egypt)

ICC Prosecution accused at AU Summit of working with Kenyan terrorists: The Kenya Citizens Coalition accused the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor of working with Mungiki members, some of which also belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. This occurred at the 24th session of the Africa union summit in Addis Ababa. ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced that she had eight Mungiki witnesses with information on “how the president funded and coordinated Mungiki members to carry out attacks” during the post election violence of 2008. According to Kenya Citizens Coalition, some of these witnesses belong to the Al Shabab terrorist group. (Capital News)

President Kenyatta tells AU Summit that ICC case against deputy will collapse: At the 24th session of the Africa Union Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Kenyan Vice-President William Ruto will fail much like the case against him did. Kenyatta and Ruto were both charged with inciting post election violence after the election in 2008, but Kenyatta’s case was dropped in December. Kenyatta stated that the ICC’s case against Ruto was exhibiting the same weaknesses as the case against him did. (Yahoo News)

Palestinian authorities state that it will bring cases of illegal Israeli settlements to ICC: Israel announced that it would erect 450 new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry response to Israel’s illegal settlements is that it will refer the case to the ICC. The ministry stated that these new settlements also come shortly after Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute, which the ministry claims as a sign of Israel’s defiance to international law. (World Bulletin)

AU Peace and Security Council criticized for deferring release of S. Sudan investigation report: Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, led the AU commission of inquiry into an investigation last year concerning South Sudan. The investigation focused on those killed in the civil war between South Sudan President Salva Kiir’s supporters and supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar. Obasanjo turned in the report last Thursday to the AU Peace and Security Council, but the results of the report have not been disclosed. A petition from 21 South Sudanese civil society organizations requested that the report be made public claiming it could “play a critical role in deterring further violations.” Human Rights Watch stated that not publicizing the report hinders holding those accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity. (Daily Mail)

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2 February 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Judges asked to review decision of Prosecutor not to investigate crimes on Gaza Freedom Flotilla: Lawyers for the Comoros filed an application asking the ICC judges to review the decision of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda not to initiate an investigation into crimes committed by Israeli Defense Forces on the ships of the Flotilla. Prosecutor Bensouda, while finding a “reasonable basis” to believe war crimes were committed on the ships of Flotilla in 2010, ultimately decided not to initiate investigations in November 2014. The Comoros’ lawyers claimed Prosecutor Bensouda failed to “take relevant matters” into consideration. (Yahoo).

ICTY Appeals Chamber upholds conviction of Popovic et al: On 30 January 2015, the ICTY Appeals Chamber upheld the 2010 convictions of five Bosnian Serbian military leaders for crimes committed in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war. The sentences of life for Vujadin Popovic and Ljubisa Beara for crimes including genocide were confirmed, as well as the 35 years of imprisonment for Drago Nikolic and 13 years imprisonment for Vinko Pandurevic. Radivoge Miletic’s sentence for crimes against humanity was reduced from 19 years to 18 years of imprisonment.  (BBC).

Sri Lanka’s new Government to initiate new probe into civil war abuses: On Wednesday, 28 January 2015, Sri Lanka’s new Government announced plans to investigate alleged human rights abuses committed at the end of the country’s 26-year civil war. A 2010 United Nations report found credible allegations that tens of thousands of Sri Lankans and ethnic Tamils were killed by Sri Lankan forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam between September 2008 and May 2009. The United Nations began investigations into the allegations in 2014 but accused former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa of interference and refusal to cooperate. (Jurist).

ICJ to issue decision on Croatia / Serbia genocide case on Tuesday 3 Feb: On Tuesday, 3 February 2015, the ICJ is expected to issue its decision in the 15-year-old Croatia and Serbia genocide case. Croatia brought Serbia before the ICJ back in 1999 on allegations of ethnic cleansing during Croatia’s 1991-1995 war of independence. It is estimated some 20,000 people died and large numbers of Croats were displaced, tortured and looted during the conflict. Serbia countersued in 2010 claiming Croatia launched a military attack during this time forcing over 200,000 ethnic Serbs to flee the area.

ECCC hears testimony of forced marriages: Cheang Srei Mom testified in front of the ECCC on Thursday, 29 January 2015, relating to her experience of forced marriages during the Khmer Rouge regime. Srei Mom testified that when she was 24 years old she was removed from the women’s unit to marry a member of the regime’s upper echelons. Srei Mom stated “I didn’t marry voluntarily, but I had to agree to the request. If I refused, I would also disappear, so I submitted myself.” The two ECCC accused, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, are alleged to have been involved in creating a policy of forced marriages during the regime. (Dunya News Network).

Kenya pledges 1 million USD to African criminal court: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that the county would be committing one million U.S. dollars to the establishment of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. President Kenyatta, speaking at the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Ethiopia, urged the other African countries to join Kenya “in ensuring that the necessary ratifications are in place and that the resulting court is fully owned, financed and driven by Africa.” The proposed African court is intended to “deliver[] African solutions to African Problems” as opposed to the “ICC which pre-occupies itself with trying to solve African challenges using western standards, perceptions and perspectives.” (Turkish Press).

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20 January 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURT

ICC Prosecution opens a preliminary examination in Palestine: On 16 January 2015, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda opened a preliminary examination to examine the situation currently in Palestine. The preliminary examination has been opened based on the Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, which gives the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. The preliminary examination will allow the ICC to examine the information to see if there is a reasonable basis for a full investigation into Palestine. (International Criminal Court)

Fingerprints reveals that body found is not of ICC witness: Fingerprints revealed that the body found in a Kenyan river was not the body of missing ICC witness Meshack Yebei. The fingerprints taken off the body were those of Yusuf Hussein, but DNA tests will soon tell whom the body belongs to. Karim Khan, Deputy President William Ruto’s attorney, stated that Yebei was a witness in Ruto’s trial. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that Yebei was not included on the ICC’s witness list for due to a scheme to corrupt witnesses. (ABC News)

Stephen Rapp is stepping down as US Ambassador of War Crimes: Stephen J. Rapp has been the US Ambassador of war crimes for almost five and a half years during the Obama administration. Rapp is stepping down from his position, though it has not been formally announced. Rapp joined the administration in 2009 with a reputation for holding people responsible for war crimes. Rapp started out his career as a victim of a kidnapping and led on to be a federal prosecutor in Iowa, a United Nations prosecutor for Rwanda and Sierra Leone. University of Michigan professor, Steven Ratner, stated that Rapp improved US relations with the ICC, but has had little success in getting American intelligence agencies to share information about human rights abuses abroad. It is unclear how soon Rapp will be stepping down from his position and who will replace him. (Foreign Policy)

Amnesty says Boko Haram attack of Baga should be investigated for CAH and WCs: Amnesty International released satellite images of attacks by Boko Haram militants on the towns of Baga and Doron Baga. The released images contain before and after pictures that show the amount of damage done to the towns. Over 3,700 structures were damaged or demolished in the attacks. These images also corroborate testimonies gathered by Amnesty International on the attacks. Amnesty International stated that killing of civilians and destruction of property are war crimes and crimes against humanity that should be investigated. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, also labeled the attack as a crime against humanity. (Amnesty International, NDTV) (for additional information please click here)

ECCC accused concerned by stand-by counsel: Judges at the Khmer Rouge tribunal ordered stand-by counsel for Khieu Samphan for trial due to the boycott of proceedings by current counsel. During a hearing on 8 January, Samphan’s defense team claimed that the court was putting pressure on their client. Shortly afterwards, Samphan was rushed to the hospital with dizziness and high blood pressure. An attorney for Khieu Samphan stated in an email that the presence of stand=by counsel made Samphan anxious and could have contributed to going to the hospital. (Cambodia Daily)

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13 January 2015 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

DNA test requested for murdered ICC witness: Deputy President William Ruto’s attorney, Karim Khan, requested a DNA test of Meshack Yebei. Yebei was a potential witness in the trial against President Ruto and was found dead in western Kenya in early January. President Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity during the post election violence in Kenya. Yebei’s family consented to the DNA test and stated that Yebei never mentioned he was an ICC witness. Prosecutors stated that they had not been planning to call Yebei as a witness during trial due to his implication of trying to corrupt witnesses. Khan stated in a letter to the head of Kenya’s Criminal Investigation Department that Yebei had been a key witness for trial. Yebei had even been referred to the ICC’s Victims and Witness Unit for protection. Prosecutors stated that any suggestion that they were involved in Yebei’s abduction and murder was “outrageous and utterly false.” (BBC News, AllAfrica) (for additional information please click here)

Government says it wants to try Ongwen in Uganda: The government of Uganda stated that it wanted to try Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander Dominic Ongwen. Ongwen recently surrendered and is in U.S. custody in Central African Republic. Ongwen is also wanted by the ICC. Uganda State Minister for Regional Cooperation Asuman Kiyingi stated that they would rather try him in Uganda than in the ICC because they have the capacity. A decision regarding whether Uganda gets to try Ongwen will be reached after consultations with the African Union, Uganda, United States, and United Nations. (NY Times)

Libyan trial of Saif Gaddafi and Al-Senussi delayed again: The trial of Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi and 36 other senior officials, including former security chief Abdullah Senussi, has been postponed once again. On 11 January 2015, trial opened and was subsequently adjourned until 25 January. This case opened in 2012 and has seen many setbacks. Those that stand accused could face the death penalty for “genocide, killing of unarmed civilians, abuses of power, human rights abuses, employing mercenaries and encouraging rape as a weapon of war.” The ICC indicted both Gaddafi and Senussi. After proceedings on Libya’s admissibility challenge, the ICC ordered the surrender of Gaddafi to the ICC. Libya has failed to comply with this order. (Libya Herald)

US Senators condemn Palestinian decision to join the ICC: Senators Lindsey Graham, Robert Menendez, Chuck Schumer, and Mark Kirk threatened Palestine over their decision to join the ICC. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to join the ICC following a rejection on Palestine’s proposal for statehood by the United Nations Security Council. On 1 January Palestine submitted an Article 12(3) declaration that gives the ICC jurisdiction since 13 June 2014. Palestine also submitted documents to accede to the Rome Statute on 7 January. Senators issued a warning to Palestine stating “that if the Palestinians initiate an ICC judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, all economic assistance to the PA” would end. (Press TV, International Criminal Court) (for additional information please click here)

UN report on crimes in CAR finds evidence of CAH and WC, but no genocidal intent: A UN report released last Thursday concluded that the events that conspired in the Central African Republic by the Seleka coalition and the anti-balaka did amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The commission of inquiry of the United Nations Security Council did not find any genocidal intent, but considered the ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population as a crime against humanity. (Tamil Guardian)

UN report on S. Sudan killings finds evidence sufficient for further investigations and prosecution: The United Nations stated that offenders of the ethnic massacres in Bentiu and Bor last April could be prosecuted based on extensive investigations into the matter. Offenders included members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition. The investigation comprised of site visits by human researchers and 142 interviews. (Radio Tamazuj)

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10 December 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecution seeks leave to appeal decision not to refer Kenya for non-cooperation: ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked the Court to appeal its March 2014, decision not to refer the Kenyan government to the Assembly of State Parties. Bensouda had accused Kenya of non-compliance for failing to disclose requested financial and communication documents in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta and asked for a referral to the ASP and an indefinite postponement of Kenyatta’s trial.  Bensouda stated the ICC’s decision “unless soon remedied on appeal will be a setback to the proceedings in that it will leave a decision fraught with error to cloud or unravel the judicial.”  (Daily Nation).

ICC PTC finds Libya in non-compliance and refers Libya to the UNSC: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued a decision on 10 December 2014, finding that Libya failed to comply with requests to surrender to the Court the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, as well as to return specified documents seized to the appropriate parties and destroy any copies in Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi’s case.  The Chamber referred the matter of Libya’s non-compliance to the U.N. Security Council under article 87(7) of the Rome Statute.  The Security Council is asked to “consider any possible measure aimed at achieving Libya’s compliance with its outstanding obligations vis-à-vis the Court.” (ICC).

Africa, Cooperation and Resources focus of ASP meeting: On Monday, 8 December 2014, the annual session of the Assembly of States Parties began at the U.N. headquarters in New York.  Africa appears to be the focus of the meeting with newly elected ASP President Sidiki Kaba asking member states to help “change Africa’s negative perception of the court.”  Furthermore, Kenya’s U.N. Ambassador Macharia Kamau requested the ASP to address concerns the government and the Africa Union have regarding the ICC and the Prosecutor’s Office.  Human Rights Watch stressed that the ICC needs the appropriate political backing and resources to ensure justice for serious violations of international law.  (For additional information on this topic, please click here.) (ABC News, Human Rights Watch).

UN official marks anniversary of Genocide Convention, saying no country immune:  Tuesday, 9 December 2014, marked the 66th anniversary of the signing of the Genocide Convention.  At the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng paid tribute to those who lost their lives to genocide.  Dieng stated that “We must accept that there is no part of the world that can consider itself immune from the risk of genocide and all regions and all States must build resilience to these crimes.”  Dieng’s office intends to launch a new Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes this week that focuses on prevention strategies and warning signs. (UN News Centre).

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24 October 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICT of Bangladesh accused dies in prison waiting for appeal: Former chief of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party, Ghulam Azam, died of a heart attack on Thursday night in a prison cell. Azam was found guilty over a year ago by the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh for crimes against humanity and war crimes during the 1971 war of independence against Pakistan. He was sentenced for 90 years in prison for conspiracy, planning, incitement, complicity, and murder. Azam’s death occurs a day after the Supreme Court scheduled appeal proceedings concerning his sentencing for 2 December 2014. (The Guardian, Business Standard) (For additional information on this topic, please click here).

Kenyan Government approaches ASP over violations of the Rome Statute: Kenya has sought out the Assembly of State Parties to explore its concerns of ICC conduct in relation to the situations in Kenya. Kenya sent a letter to the ASP on 16 October 2014 to explore these concerns in depth at the upcoming meeting in New York. It is currently unclear the exact requests made by the Kenyan government however the letter requested ‘immediate remedial solution’ to the trials involving Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto. (allAfrica)

UN investigators asks China to support referral of N. Korea crimes to ICC: Head of the UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in North Korea, Michael Kirby, has asked China to support the referral of Pyongyang’s actions to the ICC on suspicion of crimes against humanity. Western diplomats have speculated that China will use its veto power on the UN Security Council to vote against North Korea’s referral. However, Kirby stated on Wednesday 22 October 2014 that this result should not be assumed as China has only ten vetoes against resolutions in the council. North Korea’s crimes will soon be discussed in the U.N. General Assembly’s Third Committee, which can put political pressure on countries targeted by its resolution. (Reuters)

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