Archive for category Other domestic courts


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sri Lanka will not cooperate with UN Inquiry into war crimes: On 7 April 2014, Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the Sri Lankan foreign minister, announced that Sri Lanka will not be cooperating with the UN probe into war crimes, decided through a resolution last month. Citing concerns about the legality and fairness of the probe, as well as conflicts of interest of the Sri Lankan government, the foreign minister explained that the government will not support the investigation into the alleged crimes, which the government has officially denied. (Al Jazeera).

African Commission asked to intervene in death sentence of 529 Egyptians: The Freedom of Justice Party (FJP), together with lawyers for the 529 Egyptians who received death sentences on 24 March 2014 for opposing the 2013 military coup in Egypt, has asked the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene in the sentences. Specifically, the FJP has urged the Commission to suspend the sentences, because the defendants’ death penalties violate the right to life and the right to a fair trial under the African Charter. (Middle East Monitor).

ECCC sets out foundation for second segment of Case 002: The ECCC determined the scope of the second segment of Case 002, against Khmer Rouge leaders Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, who are facing—among others—charges of genocide, forced marriage, rape, and religious persecution. Though the 4 April 2014 severance order has not been made public, it adheres closely to requests made by the prosecutors; namely, that the charges to be addressed in this segment will serve as a representation, so that further segments will not need to be heard. The Chamber has decided not to include several crime sites the prosecution proposed, so as to maintain efficiency and manageability in the case. A trial date has not yet been announced. (The Phnom Penh Post).

Srebrenica survivors sue Dutch Government over peacekeepers failure to protect: The Mothers of Srebrenica, a group representing relatives of victims who were killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, have filed a civil suit against the Dutch government, for failing to protect civilians during the attack by Bosnian Serb forces. Dutch peacekeepers in the area had been unable to stop the forces, and withdrew. The group tried to bring a suit in 2007 against the UN, but Dutch courts refused to hear it on the basis that the UN has immunity, a decision with which the ECtHR agreed in 2013. The current was put on hold until the case against the UN had been decided, and hearings began on Monday, 7 April 2014. (Sky News).

ICC hears testimony of 15th Prosecution witness in Ruto case: On Saturday, 5 April 2014, the 15th witness for the prosecution in the case against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto testified before the ICC that a chief of the Kimumu area had made many trips to Eldoret town in a pick-up truck before the houses of the Kikuyu were burned. The truck carried black drums, ordinarily used for transporting water and oil, and was used by the chief for several such trips before the raid. The witness, who said that demonstrations had been peaceful before these events, was brought to Eldoret town when the houses were razed. (The Star).

South Korea will not host UN field office to investigate CAH in North Korea: On Monday, 7 April 2014, a diplomatic source of Seoul announced that the city will not be hosting a field office in order to support the UN probe into crimes against humanity allegedly committed by the North Korean government against its citizens. Though the source emphasized the importance of this investigation, South Korea fears worsening its relationship with North Korea, which could impact humanitarian efforts such as family reunifications. (The Chosunilbo).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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25 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Ukrainian Parliament votes to send ousted President Yanukovich and two others to the ICC:  On Tuesday 25 February 2014, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to refer ousted President Viktor Yanukovich, former interior minister Vitaly Zakharchenko and former prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka to the International Criminal Court to be tried for ‘serious crimes’ regarding the death of over a hundred Ukrainian citizens and injury of over 2,000 during recent protests.  The Parliament said that Yanukovich and other high level people should be held criminally responsible for “issuing and carrying out openly criminal orders.”  The ICC stated on Tuesday that no request had been received yet from the Ukrainian Government.  The Ukraine is not a member of the Rome Statute but Ukraine could make a declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute referring jurisdiction to the Court for the incidents.  Yanukovich is currently at large after fleeing last Friday, 21 February.  (The Star)

ICC preliminary examination analysizes Nigeria’s efforts to deal with Boko Haram:  On Monday 24 February 2014, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addressed Nigerian State House correspondents in Abuja in order to explain that as part of the ICC’s preliminary examination into crimes committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Prosecution will be evaluating what efforts the Nigerian Government has taken to address the Boko Haram insurgency.  This includes what judicial steps have been taken to bring justice to crimes committed by Boko Haram.  The Prosecutor explained that a preliminary examination is not a formal investigation before the Court, which requires the approval of the Chambers, and must examine issues of complementarity. (Channels)

ICC Prosecution seeks to appeal Ruto’s excusal from presence in trial:  The ICC Prosecution has sought leave to appeal a recent decision by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber to again conditionally excuse ICC accused, William Ruto, from continuous presence during the trial proceedings against him in The Hague.  The Prosecution has sought to appeal the decision in order to challenge whether interpreting Rule 134 as providing a basis to approve Ruto’s excusal is in contradiction with the Rome Statute; particularly Articles 63(1), 21(3) and 27(1) of the Statute. (Capital FM News)

Victims lawyer blames Kenyan AG for inaction on requests for evidence:  ICC Victims’ lawyer in the case against President Kenyatta, Fergal Gaynor, has stated that terminating the case against President Kenyatta would be “unconscionable” in light of the Government’s inaction with requests to access evidence.  Gaynor made submissions to the ICC Trial Chamber complaining of Attorney General of Kenya Githu Muigai’s inaction with requests for evidence – noting in particular the fact that Muigai took no action against an order which barred the interviewing of security officials who could provide evidence, and did not seek to appeal the order.  Gaynor said the actions of the Government and AG are not in line with the International Crimes Act and the Rome Statute.  (All Africa)

Haiti Appeals Chamber reopens investigations into former leader Duvalier for CAH and HR violations: On 20 February 2014, the Haitian Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by an investigative judge who formerly found that Haiti’s former leader Jean-Claude Duvalier could not be charged with crimes against humanity including forced disappearance and torture.  The Court of Appeals found that there is substantial evidence to believe that Duvalier was indirectly involved in the crimes and criminally responsible, and has therefore appointed a sitting judge to further investigate the allegations.  The Court of Appeals further found that there is no statute of limitations for crimes against humanity.  Amnesty International welcomed the decision and stated that it was a victory for victims of the crimes.  (National News Agency of Malaysia)

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5 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor: Kenyan government obstructionism means ICC will not be successful in Kenyatta prosecution: Prosecutors requested the ICC on 31 January 2014, to adjourn the trial of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta until the defense delivers requested financial records. The prosecution argued the defense’s failure to fulfill court obligations was harming investigations. The prosecution predicts the records will show that Kenyatta indirectly financed the violence committed after the 2007 presidential election. (Reuters).

Trial of Rwandan Army Captain charged with complicity in ’94 genocide begins in France:  Proceedings in the case against Pascal Simbikangwa, a former captain of the Rwandan army, commenced in France on Tuesday, 4 February 2014.  Simbikangwa faces charges of complicity to commit genocide for, among other things, organizing massacres and supplying arms. French law allows the country to hear cases of genocide and other serious violations of international law committed in Rwanda. (Jakarta Globe).

Costa Rica to sue Nicaragua over sea rights at the ICJ: Costa Rica intends to file suit in the ICJ by May 2014, concerning ownership over an area of sea. The country claims Nicaragua usurped “Costa Rican territorial seas, based on demarcation it did arbitrarily and unilaterally, to chart what it calls its oil (exploration) blocs.” Nicaragua, on the other hand, argued it had jurisdiction over the waters under a November 2012 ICJ decision between its country and Columbia. (Inside Costa Rica).

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4 February 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICTY Prosecutor comments on reconsideration motion in Perišić case: On Monday, 3 February 2014, ICTY Prosecutor Serge Brammertz announced that his Office requested that the ICTY Appeals Chamber reconsider its acquittal of Momčilo Perišić, the former Chief of Staff of the Yugoslav Army, who had been convicted to 27 years in prison for aiding and abetting crimes committed in Sarajevo and Srebrenica between 1993 and 1995. In its motion for reconsideration, the Office of the Prosecutor argued that the “specific direction” requirements on which the Appeals Chamber based the acquittal is incorrect and should be overturned. (ICTY).

Witness from explosive unit testified at STL: On Monday, 3 February 2014, Abdel-Badih al-Soussi, who was the manager of the explosives unit of the Internal Security Forces at the time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated, testified before the STL. Although he had not gone to the crime scene immediately following the explosion, he had attended a meeting at the military court that afternoon, to which a member of the explosives bureau had brought car parts from the site. The judge ordered that the parts be examined and the site cordoned off to the public. Soussi testified that he did not ask that the car parts be returned to the crime scene, nor did the judge discuss during the meeting whether parts of the motorcade should be removed. (The Daily Star).

Judge replaced on Kenyatta Trial Chamber: Following a decision by the Presidency of the ICC, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson replaced Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji in the case against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta before Trial Chamber V(b). Judge Henderson is from Trinidad and Tobago, and was elected at the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in November 2013. He will serve as a judge at the ICC until 10 March 2021. Judge Eboe-Osuji had excused himself from the trial. (ICC-CPI).

U.S. urged to suspend aid due to human rights violations in Egypt: On Monday, 3 February 2014, the Working Group on Egypt, as part of the NGO Human Rights First, released a statement that it had sent a letter to U.S. President Obama, urging his administration to cease sending aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government progresses in transitioning to a democracy and improves human rights conditions within the country. According to the NGO, depriving Egypt of aid until progress has been made sends a clear signal that the U.S. does not tolerate the human rights abuses that have occurred in Egypt, which are documented in a report the group recently released. (Human Rights First).

Former Bangladeshi Minister indicted for war crimes: On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the International Crimes Tribunal-2 indicted Syed Mohammad Qaisar, a former Bangladeshi minister from the Jatiya Party, on 16 charges of war crimes, including the commission of genocide. He and his group, the “Quaisar Bahini”, allegedly committed crimes against humanity in Habiganj and Brahmanbaria during the 1971 Liberation War. According to the prosecution, Quaisar had also served as a commander of the Rajakars, which was an auxiliary group of the former Pakistani army. The opening statement of the prosecution will be made on 4 March 2014. (Z News).

AU issues statement urging united front concerning ICC and Kenya, Sudan cases: In a statement issued Saturday, 1 February 2014, the AU expressed that it was not pleased with the UN Security Council’s refusal to defer the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir. The AU encouraged all of its members to comply with AU decisions and stand together on this issue in order to defer the proceedings. Botswana is currently the only AU member state that has officially opposed the AU’s decision to challenge the ICC cases. (Sudan Tribune).

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23 December 2013 – DECISION REVIEW

Court/Tribunal: International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda

Decision Title: Decision on Bernard Munyagishari’s Third and Fourth Motions for Admission of Additional Evidence and on the Appeals Against the Decision on Referral Under Rule 11 bis

Chamber: Appeals Chamber

Case Name: Bernard Munyagishari v. The Prosecutor

Date: 3 May 2013


Executive Summary:

  •  Both Defendant Munyagihari and the Prosecution appealed the Referral Chamber’s decision transferring, with conditions, his case from the ICTR to the national Rwandan courts. The defendant first asked the Appeals Chamber to consider additional evidence, which it rejected. The defense the presented ten grounds upon which it argued that the Referral Court erred when reaching the decision to transfer the case. The Appeals Chamber dismissed all but one, according to which the Appeals Chamber required that the Prosecution amend the Indictment to reflect that the national proceedings will not pursue joint criminal enterprise as a mode of liability. The Prosecution argued against two of the four conditions that the Referral Chamber had ordered to the national proceedings; the Appeals Chamber struck the conditions.


Principles found in decision:

  • Even if proposed additional evidence meets the requirements under Rule 115 for admission after-the-fact, if the additional evidence would not have been dispositive in the original decision, the Appeals Court will not consider the evidence
  • An Indictment against a defendant must completely and accurately reflect the charges against the defendant, so as to effectuate his right to be so informed. If the mode of liability is changed in a transfer case, this change must be reflected in an amended indictment
  • The U.N. Security Council Resolutions regarding the ICTR do not require retention of high-level cases at the Tribunal
  • In arguing that national proceedings will not adequately maintain international standards for the defendant’s detention, the defendant must show case-specific evidence of inadequate conditions for his transfer case. He cannot rely upon general evidence about the national prison system as a whole
  • Ensuring a defendant’s rights to counsel does not require that an attorney appointed to represent an indigent defendant in a case transferred to a national court have previous international experience in order to ensure
  • If a referring court requires third-party monitoring of cases transferred to national courts to ensure a fair trial, the monitoring system need not be established before the case is transferred to the national system


Decision Background: Mr. Munyagihari is indicted before the Tribunal for events stemming out of the Rwandan Genocide of 1992-1994. He is charged with conspiracy to commit genocide, genocide, or alternatively complicity in genocide, murder and rape as crimes against humanity. On 6 June 2012, the Tribunal’s Referral Chamber issued the Impugned Decision, in which it ordered the case referred for trial before the High Court of Rwanda. The referral of the case to a domestic court was subject to the domestic court’s ability to meet four conditions set out by the Referral Chamber.

In June 2010, both the defense and the prosecution filed notices of appeal against the decision to refer the case to a domestic Rwandan court. In November and December of 2012, the defense filed two motions for the consideration of additional evidence on the decision to refer the case to Rwanda, both of which the Appeals Chamber dismissed. The defense filed a third motion for the consideration of additional evidence on 11 February 2013, and filed a fourth motion to consider additional evidence on 4 April 2013. In his third motion, the defendant requested that, pursuant to Rule 115 of the Rules, an article published in the New York Times on 6 February 2013, and a communiqué published on 7 February 2013, regarding an alleged absence of a system to monitor any tribunal undertaken in Rwanda. In his fourth motion, the defendant requests that the Tribunal consider a report published on 25 March 2013 by Amnesty International, allegedly revealing serious deficiencies with the Rwandan judicial system and his ability to receive a fair trial in a national proceeding.

The defendant  challenged the decision to refer his case to domestic Rwandan proceedings. He advanced ten grounds upon which he contested the decision.

The Prosecution also appealed the Impugned Decision, challenging in one ground of appeal the Referral Chamber’s subjection of the national proceedings to two conditions. 

Decision Review:

Third and Fourth Motions for Consideration of Additional Evidence—

The Appeals Chamber first considered the defense’s third and fourth motions to hear additional evidence on the referral of the case to domestic Rwandan courts. The Appeals Chamber noted that under Rule 115, a motion to hear additional evidence shall not be filed more than 30 days from the filing of the reply brief unless there is a showing of good cause for delay, and that this limit applies to appeals from referral decisions; the Chamber noted that the defendant filed his motions outside of the allotted time frame. However, because the articles of additional evidence were not published in their original source until after the 30-day window, and were thus not available during the allotted time frame, the Appeals Chamber found good cause for delay, and stated it would consider the evidence.

Rule 115 allows for the admission of additional evidence on appeal when a party has possession of material that was not presented at trial, and that represents evidence on a question of fact that was at issue during trial. In order to be considered on appeal, the evidence must not have been available at trial in any form, and must not have been discoverable in any form through the exercise of due diligence. The additional evidence must be relevant and credible. If the evidence is relevant and credible, but was available during referral proceedings, the Appeals Chamber may allow it if the moving party can establish that its exclusion would constitute a miscarriage of justice.

The Appeals Chamber found that the additional evidence presented in the Third Motion met all of the admission requirements under Rule 115. The Chamber, however, found that the additional evidence would not have been a decisive factor in the Impugned Decision. The Appeals Chamber found that the hearings on referral adduced satisfactory evidence of Rwanda’s willingness to hold the trial, and found concerns allegedly raised by the evidence in the Third Motion are speculative. As such, the Appeals Chamber found that the evidence in the Third Motion could have had any impact on the Referral Chamber’s decision to refer the case to Rwanda.

The Appeals Chamber found that the Amnesty International report requested in the Fourth Motion met all of the Rule 115 requirements for admission. However, the Appeals Chamber found that the evidence would not have been a decisive factor in the decision to refer the case to Rwanda. The Amnesty report concerned issues and problems that occurred in another defendant’s trial, and that the present defendant’s trial would be protected under Rwandan law by additional assurances and protections afforded to cases referred by the Tribunal; the former case did not have these protections. Thus, the Chamber found that the differences between the two cases were significant such that the Amnesty report could not have had an impact on the referral decision.

Pursuant to the above, the Appeals Chamber dismissed the defendant’s third and fourth motions to consider additional evidence.

Defense Challenge to the Impugned Decision—

The defendant challenged the decision to refer the case to the domestic Rwandan court system. He advanced ten grounds upon which he contested the Referral Chamber’s decision. Under Rule 11, the Tribunal may refer a case to national proceedings, upon findings that the defendant will receive a fair trial, and that the defendant will not be subjected to the death penalty.

The Referral Chamber holds the discretion to refer a case to national proceedings, and the Appeals Chamber will only interfere if the Referral Chamber’s decision was based on discernible error.

GROUND 1: The Prosecution declared that if the case were referred to Rwanda, it would no longer pursue joint criminal enterprise against the defendant as a mode of liability. The Referral Chamber found that it was not necessary to amend the Indictment against the defendant based upon this concession, finding that the defendant’s rights would not be prejudiced. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in failing to order the Prosecution to amend the Indictment to reflect the change in mode of liability.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that failing to amend the indictment would subject the defendant to an indictment that did not clearly and accurately inform him of the charges he faces. The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber erred in not requiring amendment of the Indictment to give effect to the concession that joint criminal enterprise liability would not be pursued at the national level. The Appeals Chamber ordered the Prosecution to amend the Indictment to reflect its concession as to joint criminal enterprise liability.

GROUND 2: Noting that U.N. Security Council Resolutions referring the situation in Rwanda to the International Tribunals contemplated transferring the cases of intermediate and lower-ranked Rwandan officials to national courts, rather than the transfer of cases involving senior official, the defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that his case could be transferred to Rwandan courts.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber was bound by Rule 11 bis of the Rules when making its decision whether to refer the case, which did not require the consideration of the defendant’s level of responsibility
  • The Appeals Chamber further found that the U.N. Resolutions left the implementation strategy for the Rwandan Tribunals to the discretion of the Tribunal. The U.N. Resolutions did not require the referral of only lower-level defendants to national courts. The Referral Chamber did not err in finding that it could refer the case to Rwanda
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed the defendant’s second ground of appeal


GROUND 3: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that transferring the case to Rwanda would not lead to undue delay of the trial. The defendant noted four specific conditions which it contended that the Chamber did not adequately assess.

  • The Appeals Chamber noted that the Referral Chamber addressed and rejected the defendant’s arguments regarding the four factor’s impact on undue delay, and that he could not use an appeal to relitigate the issues
  • Regarding any error of the Referral Chamber to fail to consider the cumulative effects of the factors, the Appeals Chamber found that the consideration of the four factors cumulatively would not have changed the decision
  • The Appeals Chamber rejected the third ground of appeal

GROUND 4: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in failing to establish that a presumption of innocence against the defendant would in fact be maintained during the national proceedings.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that, when read in its entire context, the Impugned Decision indicates that the Referral Chamber adequately considered whether the defendant’s right to presumed innocence would be respected in practice in national proceedings
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed the fourth ground of appeal

GROUND 5: The defendant argued that he had previously been convicted in absentia through proceedings in Rwanda, and that therefore the referral of his case to Rwanda would violate Nin bis in idem. The Referral Chamber had found that the previous Rwanda judgment against the defendant was vacated by the Court of Appeals, and thus proceedings in Rwanda would not violate double jeopardy. The defendant noted that subsequent confusion around the disposition of that case (whether he had been convicted or acquitted) meant that the Chamber could not definitively find that a conviction had been nullified, and thus whether national proceedings would violate double jeopardy.

  • The Appeals Chamber noted that evidence as to the previous Rwandan judgment does not establish whether the defendant was acquitted or convicted in that case. Thus, the Referral Chamber erred in basing its decision on the double jeopardy question on a finding that the defendant’s conviction had been vacated.
  • The Appeals Chamber found, however, that the national Court of Appeals had vacated the judgment in that case, regardless of which finding on guilt was reached. Therefore, the Referral Chamber did not err in finding that national proceedings would not violate double jeopardy
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground five

GROUND SIX: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that conditions of detention in Rwanda would meet international standards of detention, in light of evidence that allegedly showed that prison conditions in Rwanda do not meet international standards.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that the Impugned Decision properly considered the legal framework in Rwanda, and its implications for meeting international standards of detention
  • The Appeals Chamber found that the evidence presented, purporting to show the poor running of the Rwandan prison system, was irrelevant in that it concerned the total national prison system, and not the separate facilities for cases referred from the Tribunal
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground six

GROUND 7: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that he would, in practice, have access to defense witnesses under the same conditions as those testifying for the prosecution.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber sufficiently considered the defendant’s access to witnesses. Its considerations went beyond the legal framework in Rwanda, and examined in length factors implicating the defendant’s ability to access witnesses
  • The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant failed to show that the Referral Chamber erred in its findings underlying its decision
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground seven

GROUND 8: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in finding that his right to an effective defense would be maintained in Rwanda. He argued that the Referral Chamber failed to ensure that Rwanda would be able to provide sufficient funds to defense counsel to carry out necessary work.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber did not err in considering all of the relevant Rwandan law regarding the right of an indigent defendant to have effective assistance of counsel
  • The Appeals Chamber noted that should adequate funding not be provided, the case is subject to revocation from Rwandan proceedings
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground eight

GROUND 9: The Referral Chamber held that it would be in the best interests of justice if the Rwandan proceedings were subject to some form of outside monitoring. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in allowing transfer of his case before an independent monitoring system in Rwanda has been established.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant had not established how the fact that he has yet to be informed of which organization will monitor the national proceedings substantive affects his rights
  • The Appeals Chamber found that the defendant failed to establish how his transfer to Rwanda before the actual appointment of monitors would substantively affect his rights or deprive him of the monitoring protections implemented by the Referral Chamber. The Appeals Chamber also noted that national proceedings are subject to revocation if monitors are not appointed
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground nine

GROUND 10: The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber directly interfered with proceedings of the national trial when it imposed conditions on any national proceedings. The defendant argued that the Referral Chamber does not have the power to directly interfere with national proceedings, and thus exceeded its jurisdiction. Further, the defendant argued that the fact that the Referral Chamber found it necessary to impose additional conditions on the national proceeding, meant that the national proceedings would not sufficiently guarantee his rights to a fair trial. As such, the defendant argued that the Referral Chamber erred in allowing the transfer.

  • The Appeals Chamber found that while a referral chamber may add additional considerations on to a transfer case in order to ensure that a defendant will receive a fair national trial, it must be satisfied that the basic national proceedings will afford the defendant rights comparable to Article 20 of the Statute. Thus, in allowing the transfer, the Referral Chamber found that at base, the national proceedings would afford the defendant adequate rights
  • The Appeals Chamber also noted that the conditions imposed upon the national proceedings are not mandatory: the Rwandan legal system may decline to accept the referred case if it does not wish to comply with the imposed conditions. Thus, the Referral Decision does not mandate any course of action from the national system, nor interfere with the independent and discretionary decisions of the national system. The Appeals Chamber found that the Referral Chamber has not exceeded its jurisdiction.
  • The Appeals Chamber dismissed ground ten

Prosecution’s Appeal—

The Prosecution appealed two of the four conditions upon which the Referral Chamber rested the transfer of the case to national courts. The first condition challenged was that Rwanda provide the defendant with a lawyer with previous international experience. The second condition was that the Rwandan authorities provide the Tribunal with a written assurance that Articles 54 and 55 of the Code of Criminal Procedure would not be used during the trial. The Prosecution argued that while a referral chamber may impose conditions on the transfer of cases to national courts, its discretion to do so was not unlimited, and the conditions must be limited to that which is necessary to ensure a fair national trial. The Prosecution argued that these conditions were not necessary to afford the defendant a fair trial, and as such constituted abuse of discretion. Further, the Prosecution argued that the referral chamber may not interfere too far on the sovereign conduct of the national court system, and argued that the two imposed conditions reached beyond the referral chamber’s authority to impose conditions on sovereign systems.

The Appeals Chamber found that there is no requirement at the Tribunal, or in any relevant international legal instrument, that an appointed attorney have prior relevant international experience. The Appeals Chamber found that if Rwanda appoints a national attorney who has all of the relevant national qualifications and licenses, the attorney provides the defendant adequate representation of counsel. Thus, it found that the Referral Chamber erred in requiring the first condition. The Appeals Chamber set aside the first condition.

The Appeals Chamber found that in regards to the second challenged condition, the Referral Chamber was concerned that the functioning of domestic Rwandan criminal procedure could potentially open defense witnesses to prosecution for acts testified to during the trial of a referred case. This could thus impact the defense’s ability to access witnesses for his case. The condition was meant to allay witness fears of prosecution, in order to increase defense access. The Appeals Chamber found, however, that following amendments to transfer laws in 2009, and improvements in witness protection, adequate safeguards are in place to address witness concerns and increase the likelihood of their appearance. As such, the Appeals Chamber found that the condition was not necessary to ensure a fair trial, that the concerns it addressed were speculative, and thus the Referral Chamber erred in requiring it. The Appeals Chamber set aside the second condition.

To access the full Decision, click here.

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26 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Kenya making progress in amending ICC rules: Reports indicate that through a formal presentation, Guatemala and Greece asked to amend Article 134 of the ICC Rules of Procedures to allow accused persons who are “mandated to fulfill important and extraordinary public duties” in their states to waive the requirement to be present at their trial. Instead, the amendment would let counsel represent the accused, who would not have to attend the trial at The Hague or follow it through video proceedings. Kenya, Japan, and South Africa all support the proposed amendment. Kenya’s second goal, to give sitting presidents immunity until their term has expired, will likely not be addressed until February at the Assembly of State Parties, even though Kenya is pushing for a special summit. Both changes would benefit Kenya, which has publicly objected to the requirement that President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto be present at their trials, whether in person or through video links. (Standard Digital).

Security Council condemns LRA war crimes, calls for support: On Monday, 25 November 2013, the UN Security Council condemned the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in a presidential statement, urging the group to cease its activities, disarm, and release abductees. The Council also asked the UN Office for Central Africa, UN peacekeeping missions, and the international community to support the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy, which is meant to address the activities of the LRA. The Council also applauded the efforts of the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative and emphasized the importance of regional efforts to combat the LRA. The Security Council has repeatedly denounced the crimes against humanity and war crimes the LRA has committed in several African nations over the course of 15 years, especially the group’s use of child soldiers. (UN News Centre).

Serbian Prosecutor’s Office wants 15-year sentence for Juric: The Serbian War Crimes Prosecutor’s Office demanded that Ilija Jurisic, who served as a commander during the Bosnian War, be sentenced to 15 years in prison for allegedly ordering a large-scale attack on former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) soldiers during their retreat from Tuzla, Bosnia, even though the withdrawal had allegedly been agreed upon previously. 51 soldiers died and 50 were wounded during this attack, a war crime for which Juric has been indicted in a domestic proceeding. Juric was already convicted in 2009 and sentenced to 12 years in prison, which was overruled by the Appellate Court in 2010, and the current rehearing seeks to establish why the JNA had withdrawn from Tuzla and whether Juric ordered the attack on the JNA.

Mbeki says ICC should not interfere in Africa: Former South African President Thabo Mbeki criticized the ICC’s prosecution of African leaders on Talk To Al Jazeera. In his opinion, the international community should focus on building peace in Africa, instead of imposing justice from the “outside.” He mentioned the trials of Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir; intervening in the conflict is more important than prosecuting these leaders, especially when their leadership and influence could be useful in brokering peace. Justice, he explained, does not trump peace. Using his own country as an example, Mbeki stated that South Africa’s move from apartheid to democracy would have been far less smooth had former South African President F.W. de Klerk, who was an integral part of ending apartheid, been brought before the ICC during the conflict. (Al Jazeera Media Network).

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12 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Sang opposes deferral of his ICC case: Joshua Arap Sang is against the deferral of his case before the ICC and would like to have his case heard as soon as possible, even though he noted that he understood why Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto are pushing for a deferral of their cases. He explained that he respects their mandates in Kenya, but that deferral is unnecessary in his own case because he has no such duties. Sang is indicted with committing crimes against humanity in the post-election violence in Kenya. (Standard).

Students and educators demand charges against Qaisar; ICT prosecution to charge soon: The ICT prosecution will likely submit formal charges against Syed Mohammad Qaisar to the ICT, which will decide whether or not to accept the charges after examining the documents prepared by the prosecution. Qaisar, who is allegedly the leader and founder of the “Qaisar Force”, which was associated with the Pakistani army during the war, will likely be charged with committing crimes against humanity and genocide in the 1971 Liberation War. On Saturday, 10 November 2013, attendees of a “Student-Teacher Rally” urged the government to immediately execute the verdict and punish those who committed war crimes. They also demanded a ban on Jamaat-e-Islami politics and the politics of its student wing Islami Chattra Shibir. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (The Daily Star, Dhaka Tribune).

EULEX charges against former Kosovo rebels: A EU prosecutor indicted 15 former Kosovo rebels last week, charging them for allegedly killing and torturing civilians at a detention center in Kosovo in the 1998-99 separatist war with Serbia. Though the EU rule of law mission (EULEX), which prosecutes war crimes cases in Kosovo, did not name the defendants, the defendants reportedly include members of Prime Minister Hashim Thaci’s Democratic Party of Kosovo. Some of the defense lawyers have rejected the charges. The case will be heard before the Mitrovica Basic Court in Kosovo. (BBC).

ICRC clears Sri Lankan Army of IHL violations against LTTE: In a cable signed 15 July 2009, which has since been leaked through the WikiLeaks database, U.S. Ambassador to Geneva Clint Williamson stated that Jacques de Maio, the Head of Operations for South Asia of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), had disclosed that the Sri Lankan Army had purposely chosen a slow approach in the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), choosing a high number of military deaths over high civilian casualties, which a faster battle would have brought about. According to de Maio, the Sri Lankan Army had taken allegations of International Humanitarian Law violations into consideration during the war and changed its tactics to reduce civilian deaths, meaning it did not commit crimes against humanity. (The Nation).

Kenyan DPP wants Barasa tried before the ICC: Keriako Tobiko, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of Kenya, wants journalist Walter Barasa to be tried at the ICC, because no investigation or prosecution has been initiated against Barasa in Kenya. The DPP has also opposed Barasa’s request to be provided with the documents of his case. The ICC has charged Barasa with interfering with witnesses in the cases against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and journalist Joshua Arap Sang, and wants to extradite Barasa to The Hague. (AllAfrica).

UN urges international donors to fund Khmer Rouge tribunal: UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson appealed to international donors and the Cambodian government to fund the Khmer Rouge tribunal. He said that in order to hold Khmer Rouge leaders accountable, the tribunal must be supported financially, because “[w]ords do not pay the bills.” The Court’s budget for the coming year has been scaled back, and evidentiary hearings of the Court’s second trial are expected to begin soon. (The Phnom Penh Post).

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