Archive for category Libya
Chilean granted justice at international court: An 80 year old Chilean who was severely tortured after the Pinochet regime took power in 1973 was granted a huge victory from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights this week. The Court ruled the Chile government must investigate the abuses toward Leopoldo Garcia and find those responsible for compensation. Garcia was detained after a 1973 coup and tortured into divulging names of suspected Socialists. Garcia was eventually transferred to London where he has lived for 40 years. However, Garcia has struggled throughout his life to find work and provide for his family in a foreign country. He believes Chili should “assume responsibility” for what happened to him by the Pinochet regime.
Delay of Rios Montt trial angers victims: Victims of genocide and crimes against humanity during Guatemalan President General Efrain Rios Montt’s 1982-83 rule are frustrated by the decision to delay his retrial. Amnesty International reports Mayan-Ixil indigenous people feel “let down” and worry the former President will evade justice. Rios Montt’s guilty conviction by a Guatemalan criminal court was overturned shortly after by the country’s highest court. The retrial is expected January 2015.
Serbian war crimes prosecutor charges two former Serbian army officers: Serbia’s War Crimes Prosecutors have charged two Yugoslav army leaders of war crimes. Parole Gavrilovic and Rajko Kozlina are accused of ordering an attack on a civilian village during the 1998-99 Serbian War that killed at least 27 Kosovar. A Serbian investigating judge will decide whether to indict and arrest the two leaders.
Habre appeal denied by international court: On 5 November 2013, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States held the Extraordinary African Chambers was satisfactorily established to try the former Chadian President Hissene Habre for crimes against humanity and war crimes. Habre filed a motion on 23 April 2013, challenging the legitimacy of the Extraordinary African Chambers to try him for crimes committed during his rule from 1982 to 1990. The Court found the Chambers consisted of a “special ad hoc procedure of international character” capable of holding Habre’s trial. Victims of his rule have called the Court’s decision “a huge relief.”
Kenyatta deferral gets more support: Another African country is now publicly supporting the postponement of the ICC case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. On 5 November 2013, Jean Kimani, Kenya’s High Commissioner, stated Botswana was of the position the Kenyatta trial should not only be deferred, but also held locally. Kimani clarified that Botswana’s support for Kenya’s President did not interfere with the country’s commitment to the Rome Statute and the ICC.
Gaddafi’s son speaks from prison: Seif al-Islam, the son of former Libyan dictator Muanmar Gaddafi, answered three prepared questions from a journalist on 5 November 2013. Sitting behind bars in a Zintan prison outside the Tripoli capital, Seif al-Islam told the journalist he was well and permitted visitors. Seif was captured in November 2011 by ex-rebel forces. He is also wanted by the ICC and was charged by a Tripoli court.
Nigeria seeks change at ICC: Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathon assured the international community on Tuesday, 5 November 2013, that his country would continue supporting the ICC. However, Jonathon urged the Court to defer the pending case against Kenya’s sitting head of state. Jonathon argued Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta needed to remain in Africa to fulfill his executive duties during the country’s period of instability.
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Decision on the admissibility of the case against Abdullah Al-Senussi
Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber I
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi
Date: 11 October 2013
**Con’t from Part One**
Prong Two: Ability and Willingness
The Court next considered whether the Libyan government is unable or unwilling to genuinely investigate and carry out the case against Mr. Senussi at the national level. Either unwillingness or inability to carry out the case can be a sufficient ground for failure to meet the second prong. Evidence submitted by parties can be probative of a state’s unwillingness, inability, or both.
Because Libya did not make a distinction between these two possibilities in its submissions to the Court, the Court indicated that in its analysis, it would not attempt separate analysis of both possibilities. Rather, the Court looked at the overall facts and evidence presented, to determine whether an inability and/or unwillingness on the part of Libya to genuinely pursue the case against Mr. Senussi exists.
The Chamber noted that “inability” in this context refers to a situation where the unavailability or total collapse of a state’s judicial system, renders the State unable to procure the accused, necessary evidence or testimony in a given case. The Court will make this determination after analyzing the specific circumstances surrounding the national proceedings of a case that is also before the ICC. Such an analysis will be undertaken in light of the relevant national law governing the domestic proceedings, and the rights that the relevant domestic law provides a defendant throughout the criminal process. The State retains the burden to prove its ability and/or willingness to carry out the case, but any factual allegations alleged by any party pertaining to this determination must be sufficiently substantiated.
The Court found that the Libyan government was able to establish the second prong of the Admissibility test, that it is genuinely able and willing to carry out the case against Mr. Senussi at the national level.
In making its determination, the Court looked at much the same evidence that it used to determine the first prong of the Admissibility Test. The Court reasoned that evidence that substantiate the ongoing nature of an investigation can also be relevant to determining the genuineness and efficacy of those investigations. The Court thus recalled its previous findings regarding the ongoing nature of the investigation into Mr. Senussi’s case.
The Court also looked at the external situation in Libya, and the progress of the case in light of some of the ongoing problems with which the transitional government has been dealing. The Court noted the progress of the case against Mr. Senussi, as well as those of 37 other former Gaddafi officials, from the investigation stage, to the accusation stage. It also noted that despite protests and other civil unrest, the Libyan authorities have been able to maintain the security of the judicial and investigative proceedings against Mr. Senussi. It also recalled that Libya, in the conduct of its case against Mr. Senussi and in the establishment of its judicial system generally, it has been receiving significant outside aid from the U.N., as well as several national governments.
The Court found arguments made by the Defense, the Prosecution, and the OPCV as to why Libya cannot or will not carry out genuine proceedings against Mr. Senussi unpersuasive. In responding to these arguments, the Court found that in light of Libyan criminal procedural law, and the security issues in the country, the fact that Mr. Senussi’s national case has gone on 18 months is not an undue delay. Rather, it found that throughout the 18 months, Libya has continuously and progressively investigated and continued the case, and that the time taken to investigate has not been unreasonable. It also found claims regarding potential bias against Mr. Senussi in national proceedings to be unfounded.
The most serious issue raised by the parties, and the one with which the Court had the most concern, was the claim that Mr. Senussi has yet to be appointed counsel, even though the investigation has already commenced. Whether Libya could not or would not provide Mr. Senussi benefit of counsel, to which he is entitled under Libyan law, had the potential to be fatal to Libya’s admissibility claims. Libya submitted that due to the security and political situation in Libya, it had been thus far difficult for it to secure counsel for Mr. Senussi. However, the government submitted to the Court that it was well aware of Mr. Senussi’s rights in this regard, and is attempting to find counsel. A recent submission by Libya informed the Court that the Accusation Chamber was seized of the problem, and now that the case was in its hands, it had the power to appoint counsel to Mr. Senussi by court order, should counsel not otherwise be forthcoming. Libya noted that this decision would be coming imminently. It also noted that several members of Mr. Senussi’s tribe had come forward, expressing willingness to serve as counsel.
The Court, while noting that further delay and impediments to securing counsel could in the future become fatal to Libya’s admissibility claims, was satisfied that, at the current juncture, Libya is not functionally unable or unwilling to secure defense counsel for the national case. It contrasted Mr. Senussi’s case with that of Saif Gaddafi – in which the Court found ICC admissibility despite national proceedings – based upon the fact that Mr. Senussi is actually within the control and custody of Libyan authorities, and thus can be subject to Libyan orders, including any order securing counsel. Gaddafi, on the other hand, was not within the custody and control of the authorities, subject to court order. Thus unwillingness by counsel in the country to voluntarily represent Mr. Gaddafi, presented a functional inability for the state to proceed with the case, as under Libyan law, the case cannot proceed beyond the Accusation Chamber without defense counsel. This is not the situation it finds itself in with Mr. Senussi.
As such, the Court found that the Libyan government was able to meet both prongs of the Admissibility test. Therefore, the Court ruled that the case before the ICC is inadmissible, with the caveat that the Prosecution is entitled to re-submit the issue to the Court on a showing that circumstances in the national case have significantly changed in such as way as would bear upon the continuing viability of the Court’s findings and ruling on admissibility.
Judge van der Wyngaert issued a separate declaration opining that the Court should have delayed ruling on the issue so that it could hear more submissions regarding the security situation in Libya.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Court
Decision Title: Decision on the admissibility of the case against Abdullah Al-Senussi
Chamber: Pre-Trial Chamber I
Case Name: Prosecutor v. Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah Al-Senussi
Date: 11 October 2013
** Note: Due to the length of the decision, it is reviewed in two parts**
Decision Background: On 27 June 2011, the Chamber issued an arrest warrant against Abdullah Al-Senussi. The Court charged that Mr. Senussi committed various crimes against humanity during the Libyan uprising against the Muammar Gadhafi regime. The case at the Court covered acts allegedly committed by Mr. Senussi in Benghazi from 15 February 2011 until at least 20 February 2011.
At the same time as the Court has been pursuing a case against Mr. Senussi, the new Libyan government has also been pursuing a national case against him for acts allegedly committed during the Libyan revolution. On 2 April 2013, the Libyan government filed an application with the Court, challenging the admissibility of the case against Mr. Senussi at the ICC. Specifically, the Libyan government argued that because it was pursuing a case against Mr. Senussi at the national level for the same acts underlying the Court’s case, the case at the international level was inadmissible. The Libyan government argues that, pursuant to Article 19(2)(b) of the Rome Statute, it is a State Party with jurisdiction over the case, thus precluding ICC jurisdiction.
Both the Prosecutor and the Defense objected to the Libyan government’s request quash the case at the ICC in favor of the case to the Libyan national case. Both the Prosecutor and the Defense, along with the OPCV, argue that the two cases are sufficiently different as to allow continued jurisdiction for the ICC’s case.
Decision Review: Determination of whether a case can remain admissible at the ICC in light of proceedings at the national level requires a two-step analysis. The Court looks at whether 1) at the time of a state’s challenge to proceedings at the ICC, an ongoing investigation or prosecution of the same case exists at the national level, and 2) whether the national State is unwilling or unable to genuinely carry out such an investigation or prosecution. Both prongs must be fulfilled in order to successfully challenge the admissibility of the ICC case. The State challenging the admissibility of the ICC case bears the burden of proving each prong.
Both the Prosecution and the Defense, along with the OPCV, argued that the Libyan government could not meet either or both of these prongs. The parties submitted various reasons for the government’s inability to meet the test, and offered several and varied evidence to support their claims.
The Court analyzed the Libyan government’s claims along the two prongs established in the admissibility test, in light of the submissions made by all of the parties to the case, the Libyan government, and the evidence submitted in support of the government’s and the parties’ arguments.
Prong One: Prosecution of case by State party having jurisdiction
The Court first analyzed whether the case against Mr. Senussi was being “prosecuted by a State party who has jurisdiction over it [the case].” As part of this analysis, the Court first had to satisfy itself that the “case” against Mr. Senussi at the national level, was the same “case” before the Court at the ICC. The assessment of the conduct underlying the scope of the “case” is based upon the facts of the conduct, and not their legal characterization, at either the national or ICC level. The State must prove with sufficient evidence of probative value that it is indeed investigating the same “case” against the defendant. A determination as to whether a “case” is the same “case” is heavily fact-dependent, and the Court makes a determination on a case-by-case basis.
The Court found that the “case” before the ICC and the “case” in Libya are substantially the same case. The case against Mr. Senussi at the ICC charges him with personal culpability for various acts of murder and persecution as crimes against humanity, committed in Benghazi from between 15-20 February 2011.
The case at the ICC describes discrete acts that establish reasonable ground to believe the defendant’s general liability for the crimes alleged, and has defined temporal, geographic and material parameters. Because the discrete “events” or “acts” listed in the ICC indictment are examples of incidents highlighting or proving up the defendant’s liability for the crimes charged at the ICC, the Court found that the Libyan Government did not need to show that its case charges precisely the same acts as mentioned in the ICC charges to prove that the cases are the same. Charges that appear in the ICC case, and not in the national case, however, are relevant to the Court’s final determination.
In reaching the “same case” determination, the Court considered various forms of evidence submitted by the Libyan government, which the Court, in its analysis of each type of evidence, found to be of various levels of probative value. The Libyan government had submitted three main categories of evidence in support of its position: documents created and submitted by Libyan authorities for the express purpose of sustaining their admissibility argument, items collected by Libyan authorities as part of their investigation into the case, and other materials not falling into the previous two categories.
The Court viewed the evidence presented by the Libyan government with a view towards ascertaining what it revealed about the exact conduct being investigated by the Libyan authorities. In reviewing the specific acts and occurrences described in the evidence submitted by the Libyan government, the Court found that the national proceedings cover, at minimum, the incidents and events described in the ICC’s charges against Mr. Senussi. Thus, the conduct at issue in the ICC case, is the same conduct at issue in the national case. The fact that, due to the varying legal systems, the acts may be legally characterized differently in each case, is of no consequence. Because the acts covered are the same, the Court determined that the case at each level is the same case.
Based upon the evidentiary submissions made by Libya in regards to the case against Mr. Senussi, the Court also found that sufficient evidence exists to conclude that the case is being investigated and/or prosecuted by Libya at the national level. The evidence submitted by Libya showed that its Prosecutor-General is conducting interviews of witnesses to the alleged crimes, actively obtaining documentary evidence of the crimes allegedly committed (including medical reports, death certificates, and written orders from the relevant time period), and requesting that external sources provide to the Prosecutor-General information relevant to the case. The Chamber found that the Libyan government had demonstrated that “adequate, tangible and progressive steps” have and are being taken by the Libyan government to investigate the case against Mr. Senussi. It noted that in fact, the evidence suggests that Libyan authorities are currently pursuing multiple lines of investigation.
Important to its determination that a case against Mr. Senussi was indeed progressing at the national level, was the fact that the case had been referred to Libya’s Accusation Chamber. Under Libyan criminal procedure, a case must move through four concrete phases: investigation, accusation, trial, and appeals. The fact that the Senussi case had been transferred to the Accusation Chambers means that the case is actively moving through Libyan procedure, and thus indicated to the Court that the case was actively being pursued by the relevant authorities.
Thus, the Chamber found that Libya has satisfied the first prong of the Admissibility test: The national case against Mr. Senussi is the same as that at the ICC, and Libyan authorities are actively investigating it.
To access the full Decision, click here.
Former President Taylor requests Rwandan incarceration: On 14 October 2013 it was reported that Charles Taylor would rather serve his fifty year sentence in Rwanda instead of the UK. Taylor argued in a letter to the court that his incarceration in the UK would put an undue burden on his relatives. Taylor’s appeal was rejected and it was later confirmed by a UK minister that his sentence would be served in a UK prison. (BBC).
Closing statements at ECCC set for this week: The ECCC has hearing final statements of former regime leaders in the near future. The UN-backed court will on Wednesday enter the last phase of the trial of “Brother Number Two” Nuon Chea, 87, and ex-head of state Khieu Samphan, 82. The court is currently investigating two possible new cases but analysts believe a shortage of funds and politics may restrict the start of any new proceedings. (AFP).
AU Summit says Kenyatta should not attend trial; draws international criticism: The AU has called on the ICC to delay the trial of Kenyan President Kenyatta. During a recent AU summit the continent’s relationship to the ICC was in focus. African leaders accuse the ICC of unfairly targeting people on the continent and ignoring the rest of the world. (Aljazeera, Amnesty Int.). For more information on this topic, please click here.
ICC allows Libyan Trial of al-Senussi: On 12 October 2013 it was announced that al-Senussi will be tried in Libya. ICC judges have ruled that Libya has produced a sufficient number of competent authorities to carry out a proper investigation of al-Senussi’s alleged crimes. (Aljazeera).
ICC arrest warrant for Kenyan journalist: On 2 October 2013, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kenyan journalist Walter Barasa. Barasa allegedly bribed, harassed and threatened prosecution witnesses in the ICC case against Kenyan President William Ruto. Barasa claims he was asked to aid witness interviews by ICC staff but never personally participated in “coerci[ve] or unorthodox means.” The journalist intends to defend himself against the charge of interfering with the legal process, which could give rise to 5 years incarceration if found guilty. (ABC News).
UN reports on prison violence in Libya: The UN issued a report on Tuesday, 1 October 2013, condemning the ongoing abuse and torture in Libya’s prisons. The report, which detailed 27 detention center deaths and countless testimonies of physical abuse by the armed brigades, urges an immediate response by the Libyan government to transfer inmates. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay announced the “situation of detainees in Libya is alarming and while there has been some progress, there is an urgent need to renew efforts to prevent torture, investigate allegations of torture and prosecute those responsible.” (UN News Centre).
Costa Rica-Nicaragua border dispute back at ICJ: The ICJ has scheduled four days of hearings in mid-October to discuss the continuing border conflict between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Costa Rica requested the meetings after Nicaragua military excavated two canals in Isla Portillos in violation of a 2011 ICJ precautionary measure. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla has called for Nicaraguan personnel unlawfully on the wetlands to leave. (Inside Costa Rica).
Ethiopia publicizes discontent with ICC: Ethiopia, a non signatory of the Rome Statute, has again accused the ICC of being politically bias and only targeting leaders of Africa. Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Dina Mufti argued Africa countries should be prosecuting their own leaders, without ICC involvement, in observance of AU recommendations. At this time, 34 African states are parties to the Rome Statute. However, the Kenyan government recently voted to withdraw from membership due to increasing dissatisfaction with the permanent international court. (Sudan Tribune).
Libya holds indictment hearing today for Gaddafi officials: The indictment hearing for 38 of Muammar Gaddafi’s senior officials was scheduled in Libya today, 19 September 2013. The indictees, notably Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, his former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and his prime minister Baghdadi Mahmuti, are charged with murder, torture, rape, kidnapping and theft. For security purposes, the indictment hearing was relocated to a Tripoli prison that currently has custody over most of the defendants. If the charges are confirmed and Libya proceeds with trial, the country will be in breach of an ICC arrest warrant for Gaddafi and Senussi. (The Guardian).
Media threatened with contempt charges for disclosing ICC witness identity: An ICC judge in the trial of Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang has warned the media against disclosing the identity of protected witnesses. On 18 September 2013, it was reported that the name and photograph of the prosecution’s first witness was published on blogs and social media sites shortly after she finished testifying in The Hague. Human rights activists fear these types of disclosure will prevent other key witnesses from giving evidence. A number of Kenyans have already withdrawn from the trial because of intimidation. (BBC News Africa).
Kenya’s Bashir seeks US visa: Sudan is requesting the U.S. grant an entry visa to President Omar al-Bashir for attendance at the 68th U.N. General Assembly in New York. The ICC currently has an arrest warrant out for Bashir, and as a party to the Rome Statute, the U.S. would have a legal obligation to seize the President if he were in the country. Marie Harf, U.S. State Department spokeswoman, stated the country “condemn[ed] any potential effort by President Bashir to travel to New York, given that he stands accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.” (For more information on this topic, please click here). (Google News, Reuters).
Agreement to protect African children signed by UN & AU: On 17 September 2013, the U.N. and African Union signed an agreement to “strengthen protection of conflict-affected children in Africa, where despite progress, grave child rights violations including under-age recruitment, continue.” The agreement requires the U.N. and African Union to establish guidelines and joint work programs that ensure the protection of children under both national and international standards. A number of African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, have previously signed plans against the recruitment of child soldiers and killing of children. (UN News Centre).
Kenyan Parliament to discuss ICC departure: A French news agency has reported that Kenyan’s Parliament would be meeting this week in a special session to discuss withdrawal from the Rome Statute. ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah assured supporters of the Court that any decision by the lawmakers would have no impact on the already commenced cases against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta or Vice President William Ruto. If successful and authorized by the U.N., Kenya would be the first country to secede from the Rome Statute.
Ruto requests ICC overturn vote denying trial in Kenya: On 2 September 2013, Kenyan Vice President William Ruto and journalist Joshua arap Sang moved the ICC to reconsider holding proceedings in Nairobi or Arusha after court judges voted last week nine to five against. Ruto and Sang argued the Court engaged in “gross procedural unfairness” by denying the defense adequate time to respond to a changed prosecution submission. The accused alleged the prosecution initially favored relocating the trials, but was quickly swayed by human rights activist Gladwell Otieno’s opposition letter. Ruto and Sang claimed the ICC erred in allowing the prosecution to amend it’s position one day before the defense began its case.
Gunman abduct daughter of Gaddafi’s intelligence chief: Anoud Abdullah al-Senussi, the daughter of Muammar Gaddafi’s former head of internal security, was kidnapped in Libya on Monday, 2 September 2013. Police were transporting Senussi from a prison in Tripoli when gunman opened fire on their convoy. Senussi had been serving 10-months in jail for illegally entering Libya to visit her incarcerated father who was charged by the country for crimes committed during Gaddafi’s rule. The ICC additionally issued an arrest warrant for Senussi’s father in May 2011.
Bemba witness accuses rebel fighters of crimes: A protected ICC witness testified on behalf of Jean-Pierre Bemba, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Monday, 2 September 2013. The witness told the Court via video link she had been raped by rebel forces under the command of François Bozizé. Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity for failing to control his troops in the murder and rape of civilians during the 2002 and 2003 conflict. The former Vice President has repeatedly claimed the acts were carried out by Bozizé forces.
Cambodians go on strike at ECCC: For the second time this year, Cambodian staff at the cash-strapped ECCC have officially gone on strike “over unpaid wages.” The Extraordinary Chambers, significantly short on donations from international donors, has been unable to pay Cambodian judges, prosecutors, translators, interpreters, and other needed staff since June 2013. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cautioned last week that a second strike would put “the very survival of the court . . . in question.” The ECCC was in the middle of trying two former senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan.
Ruto defense moves for staggered court schedule at ICC: On 21 August 2013, defense for Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto filed a motion with the ICC seeking a court schedule of “two weeks on, two weeks off.” The defense argued a staggered schedule would enable Ruto to comply with the Court’s earlier ruling requiring the state leader to be present during certain specified proceedings, while at the same time allowing Ruto to fulfill his obligations in Kenya. Ruto’s trial is expected to begin 10 September 2013.
ECCC to get 3 million Euros from EU: On Wednesday, 21 August 2013, the EU stated it would be contributing 3 million Euros to the cash strapped ECCC for 2013 international salaries. EU Ambassador to Cambodia Jean-Francois Cautain explained the funding was in addition to the 1.3 million Euros the EU provided to the Extraordinary Chambers for the national budget. Cautain emphasized the “commitment of the European Union to deliver justice for the Cambodian people.” The ECCC is currently nearing a $3 million deficit and has been unable to pay national salaries since May.
Libya begins trial against Gadhafi’s head security chief: The trial of Gadhafi’s former chief of security, Mansour Dhau, commenced in Libya on Tuesday, 20 August 2013. Dhau is charged with stealing more than 2,000 civilian cars and alleged to have directed airstrikes against NATO. Dhau told the court at his first appearance that he was “not a thief” and requested to be released.
U.N. emergency meeting after 100 die in alleged Syrian chemical weapons attack: The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting yesterday, 21 August 2013, after it was reported the Syrian government allegedly used chemical weapons in an attack on Damascus killing at least 100 civilians. In a press statement released shortly after the meeting, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assured the member states that there would be a “thorough investigation” into the reported incident. Syria had previously agreed to allow a U.N. special experts team to investigate the site of the alleged 19 March chemical weapons attack on Khan al Assal. The team has yet to access the site in Syria and it has been questioned whether an investigation six months later would produce useful evidence. On the other hand, member states calling for a prompt investigation into the latest attack are more hopeful the U.N. could determine if chemical weapons are being used and what side is responsible.
Bemba witnesses claim rebel fighters committed crimes against humanity: The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, commander-in-chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo, continued this week at the ICC with testimony from two protected defense witnesses. Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity for failing to control his troops in the murder and rape of civilians during the 2002 and 2003 conflict. Bemba’s witnesses provided statements accusing rebel forces under the command of François Bozizé of committing the alleged atrocities. The witnesses testified that a select number of Bozizé’s recruits were fluent in the Congolese dialect Lingala; the language many prosecution witnesses have relied on to identify Bemba’s troops as the perpetrators.
Lawyers demand ICC trial of Gadhafi’s former “spy chief”: Defense counsel for Abdullah Senussi requested this week that local proceedings be postponed and Libya’s former military intelligence chief be surrendered to the ICC. Senussi’s lawyers argued the persistent political pressure from the militia, the threats and assassination of judges, and the latest practice of “revenge death sentences” would prevent Libya from conducting a fair trial. An arrest warrant for Senussi was issued by the Court in 2011 for crimes against humanity allegedly committed during Libya’s civil war. Libya is not currently a state party to the Rome Statute and has repeatedly objected to the ICC’s jurisdiction.
ICC issues Ruto trial schedule and manner of procedure: On 9 August 2013, ICC Trial Chamber V issued a general directive on scheduling and procedure in the case against Kenya’s current Deputy President William Ruto and radio presenter Joshua Arap Sang. The directive, inter alia, reduced the time limit on the prosecution’s case, ordered an updated prosecution witness list, and gave instructions on how to seek site visits or request protective measures. The trial is expected to begin on September 10.
ICTY precedent may jeopardize prosecution of senior officials: The ICTY’s recent acquittals of Momičlo Perišić, Jovica Stanišić, and Frank Simatović has worried many in the international community that a new legal precedent has been established allowing senior officials impunity for past human rights violations. The three Serbian commanders were charged by the Tribunal for aiding and abetting war crimes during the 1990s Bosnian War. However, the judges found in each case that the prosecution failed to provide evidence showing the accused “specifically directed” subordinates to commit crimes. International law experts fear the Tribunal’s interpretation of the requisite mental state for aiding and abetting could make it extremely difficult to hold senior officials responsible. This could include former Liberian president Charles Taylor who was convicted and sentenced last year to 50 years imprisonment. Taylor’s appeal is pending in the ICTY’s sister tribunal.
Investigations into Syria chemical use delayed: The U.N. team specifically tasked with investigating chemical weapons use in Syria has been delayed in entering the country. Deputy spokesman for the U.N., Eduardo del Buey, announced on 13 August 2013, that “details [were] being worked out” before the Syrian government would allow the team to visit five sites allegedly attacked with chemical weapons. According to del Buey, the U.N. team conducted final preparations for the Syrian investigation this past weekend.
5 August 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS
Special Tribunal for Lebanon: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that the UN-backed tribunal set up to try the killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri on Friday set a provisional 13 January 2014 start date for the trial. Four members of militant Shiite group Hezbollah are facing trial abstentia for devastating 2005 Beirut seafront bombing that killed billionaire Hariri and 22 others.
Commissioner Pillay calls for enquiry into alleged execution of Syrian soldiers: On 3 August 2013, it was reported that the UN highest-ranking official on human rights made an urgent call for an inquiry into the alleged executions of Syrian government soldiers by opposition groups. Commissioner Pillay has called for an independent investigation to establish whether war crimes have been committed. According to the OHCHR, more than 100,000 have been killed since the civil war erupted in Syria.
Karadzic granted more time to prepare defence: On 5 August 2013, it was reported that the ICTY granted Karadzic his request for additional time to prepare his defence. Trial is scheduled to resume on 28 October 2013.
Apparent unrest among Libyan government and former rebel forces: On 31 July 2013, it was reported by Aljazeera that a criminal court in the Libyan city of Misrata sentenced a former education minister to death for inciting violence during the 2011 civil war. According to reports in the Saudi Gazette, the Libyan government and the ICC are equally concerned over the possibility of inadequate court proceedings taking place, especially in the cases of Saif Gaddafi and Senussi. Amnesty International is concerned that the continued unrest in Libya will lead to the impossibility of a fair trial for rebel held prisoners. (For additional information on this topic, please click here, and here)
Colombian president rejects impunity for FARC: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that FARC members will not be receiving impunity for allegedly engaging in the commission of crimes against humanity if a peace agreement is reached. However, President Juan Manuel Santos went on to say that if a peace agreement is reached there will be a process to rehabilitate guerrilla members who have not committed crimes against humanity.
UN releases 2,200 war-crimes documents: On 3 August 2013, it was reported that the unrestricted records of the UN War Crimes Commission were put online early July by the ICC after an agreement with the UN had been reached. UN spokesman, Martin Nesirky, hopes that putting the unrestricted part of the archive online will enhance the availability of materials to those engaged in research into the development of international law.
Kaiser receives conditional bail: On 5 August 2013, it was announced that the former Jatiya Party leader, Syed Md Kaiser, will be granted conditional bail. If any of the conditions are violated, Kaiser will risk the denial of bail.