Archive for category Rwanda
UN tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia will not meet 2015 deadline: Presidents of the UN tribunals to prosecute alleged war criminals involved in the Rwandan and Yugoslavian conflicts have reported that they will fail to meet the deadline imposed by the UN Security Council to complete their prosecutions by the end of 2014. President of the ICTY Theodor Meron told the Security Council that three trials and three appeals will go beyond 2014, with the trial of Ratko Mladic slated to conclude in 2016. President of the ICTR Vagn Joensen said that at least one appeal judgment is expected in July 2015. In 2010, the Security Council passed a resolution requesting that the tribunals complete their work by the end of 2014 and prepare for a transition to a new court that will complete all remaining trials and appeals of the two tribunals.
Lubanga’s appeal for judge’s disqualification is rejected: Convicted war criminal Thomas Lubanga’s request for Judge Sang-Hyun Song to be disqualified from hearing his appeal of his conviction and 14-year prison sentence has been denied by a plenary of judges at the ICC. The plenary unanimously held that Lubanga’s assertion that Song should be disqualified due to public comments was without merit. Specifically, the group held that “the impugned statements, taken in their proper context, would not have led a fair-minded and informed observer…to reasonably apprehend bias.” The judges also found that the statements did not reach the threshold for displacing the presumption of impartiality.
ICC rejects sex abuse victims request to investigate former Pope Benedict XVI: The ICC has rejected a 2011 request from victims of sex abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy to investigate former Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals from the Vatican for alleged crimes against humanity. The victims’ attorneys argued that the Catholic church had maintained a “long-standing and pervasive system of sexual violence” despite promises to identify and oust predators. ICC attorneys informed the victims that “there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis.” Specifically, an ICC official wrote that “the matters described in your communication do not appeal to fall within the jurisdictionof the court.”
EU lifts Myanmar sanctions: On 22 April 2013, the EU agreed to lift all sanctions against Myanmar except for an arms embargo. The move by the EU may pressure the United States, which suspended most sanctions against Myanmar last year, to permanently lift sanctions. However, Human Rights Watch and other human rights activists have expressed concern over ongoing human rights abuses. An HRW report accuses the Myanmar government of crimes against humanity relating to the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims last year.
Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto selects lead counsel for ICC trial: On 23 April 2013, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto, whose ICC trial begins next month, selected Kamir Khan to be his lead counsel. Khan successfully represented Kenyan Francis Muthaura, whose charges were recently dropped by the ICC. Ruto also filed an application to waive his right to be present at all trial hearings; Khan argued the Rome Statute does not require a suspect to be present during court proceedings.
ICC President of Assembly of States Parties participates in events in Ethiopia and The Hague: On 19 April 2013, ICC President of the Assembly of States Parties Tiina Intelmann returned to The Hague after a four-day tour through Ethiopia. Upon her return, Intelmann participated in a meeting to assure that top judiciary candidates are appointed to the ICC. In Ethiopia Intelmann met with the Chairperson of the AU Commission to discuss the capabilities of the ICC to address gender based crimes and she meet with representatives of African state parties to the ICC. Intelmann also participated in a seminar focused on the ICC and complementarity; she said the long-term focus of the ICC is to prevent crimes and strengthening the rule of law.
Ntaganda’s trial raises DRC nationality question: On 26 March 2013, Bosco Ntaganda, a DRC warlord currently facing charges before the ICC, addressed the charges against him at the ICC. Ntaganda stated that he was born in Rwanda, but is a Congolese citizen; Ntaganda, however, stated that he prefers to speak in Kinyarwanda, a language connected to ethnic Tutsis and foreign to the DRC. This statement in front of the ICC began a debate in the DRC on what it takes to be “Congolese.” There is some controversy if Ntaganda is considered to be a Rwandan citizen as Rwanda is not a state party to the ICC. The ICC, however, released a statement that Ntaganda confirms he is a DRC citizen and the crimes he is accused of committing were in the DRC, which is a state party—so there is no issue of jurisdiction.
Karadzic seeks subpoena for Mladic to testify in war crimes trial: On 18 April 2013, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic sought a subpoena to compel former Serbian Military Chief Ratko Mladic to serve as a defense witness at this upcoming ICTY. Karadzic argues that Mladic may be a key defense witness and can testify that Karadzic was not aware of the plans that lead to the Srebrenica massacre. Karadzic and Mladic, the alleged chief architects of the atrocities committed by Serbs during the Bosnian war, were originally indicted together, but not stand trial separately. Both men are charged with genocide and other war crimes.
HRW says Senussi has not seen a lawyer nor been told his charges: On 17 April 2013, HRW released a statement saying that Abdullah al-Senussi, Muammar Gaddafi’s intelligence chief, had not seen a lawyer nor been informed of his charges since being in Libyan jail. HRW interviewed Senussi on Wednesday; it was the first visit by an international human rights organization to Senussi’s Libyan jail cell. Senussi is suspected to have played a large role in atrocities committed by the Gaddafi regime; he is also wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity committed during the Libyan uprising in 2011. Libya, which plans to adopt a democratic constitution this year, hopes to try Senussi at home; human rights activists, however, worry that Senussi will not be able to receive a trial that meets international standards.
Kosovo ex-rebel retried for war crimes: On 18 April 2013, the retrial of Fatmir Limaj, a top ethnic Albanian rebel during the 1998-99 Kosovo War and a current politician, and nine associates began. Limaj plead not guilty to charges of torture and killing of Serbs and Albanians at a detention center in Kosovo. The retrial was triggered when the Supreme Court of Kosovo annulled a verdict of a lower court acquitting Limaj and the others. The lower court was annulled because they had wrongfully thrown out the evidence of a guard who worked at the Kosovo detention camp and had left a diary, but was found dead a month before Limaj’s trial was to begin. British judge Malcolm Simmons is the chair of the panel trying Limaj.
Ruto asks ICC to lift attendance requirement: On 18 April 2013, Kenyan Deputy-President William Ruto asked the ICC to lift its demand that requires Ruto to be present at The Hague whenever his trial was on. Ruto is charged by the ICC with crimes against humanity in relation to the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya. Ruto’s attorney proposed that Ruto be in attendance at the opening, closing, judgment, and any hearing which his attendance is expressly requested; the defense further contended that Ruto will always be able to follow the trial via video link. The defense argued that the Rome Statute only states that an accused shall be entitled “to be present at the trial,” but does not state that attendance is mandatory; Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba was authorized by the ICC to be absent from his trial on two occasions. Ruto contends that his proposal would allow him to balance his Kenyan constitutional duties with his personal commitment to cooperate with the ICC.
Footage of Mladic shows him telling Muslims to “survive or perish”: On 19 April 2013, the trial of Ratko Mladic continued. Video footage of Mladic was shown where he told Muslim captives that they could “survive or perish.” Contrarily, the defense showed footage of Dutch General Thom Karemans telling Mladic that the Srebrenica Muslims had smuggled lots of weapons into their enclave. Mladic is charged by the ICTY for genocide, crimes against humanity, and taking international peacekeepers hostage between 1992-1995.
STL president confirms that Lebanon will support STL’s response to witness leak: On 18 April 2013, STL president David Baragwanath, finishing a four day tour of Lebanon, stated that he had received assurances that Lebanon would support the STL’s response to recent witness leaks fully. Last week hackers infiltrated a Lebanese newspaper’s website and posted names of STL witnesses on its frontpage. The STL is investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri; four Hezbollah members have been indicted in the case, but have not been apprehended.
Rwanda and EALA ask for ICTR archive to be transferred to Rwanda: On 18 April 2013, the East African Legislative Assembly supported Rwanda in its effort for ICTR archives to be transferred to Rwanda. The EALA, which is meeting from 16-26 April, has focused on the legacy and implications of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. For one, the EALA passed a resolution asking the East African Countries summit to call on the UN to establish an International Trust Fund for Survivors of Genocide against the Tutsi.
US Supreme Court rules on Alient Tort Statute: On 17 April 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled on the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum case. The Court held that the victims of gross human rights in Nigeria were not entitled to relief under the ATS—further, a majority of the court held that the ATS does not apply to human rights violations committed in other countries. Human Rights First criticizes the decision as “undermining the United States’ status as a leader on human rights.” Before this decision, the ATS was an important tool in holding gross human rights violators accountable to their victims in U.S. courts. (To read to full Supreme Court Decision, click here).
New Policy allows UN officials to freely interact with persons summoned to ICC: On 15 April 2013, the UN announced a new policy that will allow UN officials to freely engage with persons before the ICC. The policy will be in effect for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy-President William Ruto. On a similar note, UN officials are supposed to avoid contact with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir because he is not cooperating with the ICC.
Rwanda keeps ICC out of Africa: On 15 April 2013, it was reported that Rwanda had won a behind-the-scenes battle at the UN Security Council, keeping the ICC out of human rights abuses in Africa. Rwanda reportedly said that the ICC “condemns crimes committed by some but not others.” Rwanda is supposedly angry at the ICC for indicting Bosco Ntaganda and Laurent Nkunda, M23 rebels who are reported to be backed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Last year a UN panel said that both Rwanda and Uganda commanded and supported M23 rebels—ICC investigations of the link could lead to charges against Kagame.
ICC visits Colombia to review state crimes: On 15 April 2013, the ICC visited Colombia to review the peace process with FARC and other human rights violations. The ICC stated they encourage the peace talks between Colombia and FARC, but such negotiations must meet the standards of the Rome Statute. The ICC also examined Colombia’s response to false killings, where 3,000 Colombian civilians were murdered and dressed as guerillas to raise the military’s body count —prosecution of these cases have been stagnant. The ICC has investigated Colombia for ten years, but has not prosecuted any cases.
HRW alleges that Al-Shabaab attacks are war crimes: On 16 April 2013, HRW stated that Al-Shabaab’s recent attacks on a Somalian courthouse amounted to war crimes due to its failure to regard civilian life. Al-Shabaab’s spokesperson took responsibility for the attack, but said it was a justified military target because the court was ruling contrary to Islamic law. It is reported that at least 30 people died in the attack. Humanitarian law, which is applicable in Somalia, protects civilians and civilian objects from deliberate. The UN is currently focusing on judicial reform in Somalia.
UK vows to prosecute war crimes in Syria: On 16 April 2013, the UK’s Secretary of State William Hague promised to bring those in Syria responsible for war crimes to justice. Hague accused Syrian regime of massive human rights abuses. The UK has trained more than 300 journalists and activists on how to document human rights violations. Hague further called for an urgent response to the human rights violations occurring.
Activists call for review of ICTY: On 10 April 2013, the UN General Assembly held a debate on the performance of the ICTY. Nearing the 20th anniversary of the ICTY, activists and legal scholars are calling for a comprehensive review of the tribunal. At the same time, Serbian representatives allege that the ICTY was an “inquisition” against Serbia. While Serbians are more concerned with the outcome of ICTY trials, legal experts hope to focus on the length of trials, treatment of evidence, and outreach efforts.
STL President’s visit to Lebanon not connected to leaks: On 15 April 2013, the STL confirmed that STL President David Baragwanath’s visit to Lebanon was not connected to recent leaks. Last week there was a reported leak within the STL of confidential witnesses, although the STL emphasized that the leaked witnesses were not accurate. The STL stated that Baragwanath’s trip was planned “long before the fiasco.” The Hague-based STL has indicted four members of Hezbollah for the 2005 assassination of Lebanese President Hariri.
Construction begins on new ICC building: On 16 April 2013, the ICC held a ceremony commemorating the ground breaking of the permanent ICC building. The Netherlands provided the land for the building free of charge; Rome Statute state parties are funding the project. ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song stated, “An institution of global significance deserves a world class premises.”
Rwanda hopes to stop court dispute before UN: On 14 April 2013, Rwanda, the council president for April, announced that it would stop the UN Security Council from praising the International Criminal Court. Rwanda is organizing a Security Council meeting on April 15 to discuss conflict prevention in Africa when traditionally the 15-member body would release a statement. The seven ICC members on the council — Argentina, Australia, Britain, France, Guatemala, Luxembourg and South Korea — insist on acknowledging the work of the court in ending impunity for war crimes. Rwanda said it would not accept a statement which mentions the ICC which it has strongly criticized.
UN debates role of international criminal courts: On 10 April 2013, the United Nations General Assembly today held its first ever debate on the role of the international criminal justice system in reconciliation, with its president stressing the vital part it must play not just in looking back on past atrocities but in bringing former foes together to build a better and more inclusive tomorrow. Over the past two decades various international criminal courts have been set up, either under UN sponsorship or in cooperation with the world body, to judge war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in countries as diverse as the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Cambodia.
Luxembourg ratifies: On 10 April 2013, Luxembourg became the fourth State Party of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ratify amendments to the Rome Statute that were adopted in a historic consensus at the 2010 Review Conference of the International Criminal Court in Kampala, Uganda. The January 15, 2013, ratification brings the controversial amendments another step closer to entering into force. If the requisite number of states ratify the proposed amendments, the ICC’s jurisdiction would dramatically increase in scope, likely having profound global implications for current armed conflicts.
Prosecutions in Guatemala offer hope to survivors: On 12 April 2013, a senior United Nations official announced the welcomed efforts of Guatemalan authorities to investigate crimes of sexual violence that occurred during the country’s 36-year internal conflict, and urged authorities to ensure a fair trial and protections for the witnesses and others involved.
19th Anniversary of Rwandan Genocide: On 7 April 2013, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon honoured the memory of the more than 800,000 people who lost their lives during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and stressed countries have a ‘shared responsibility’ to prevent mass atrocities from happening again. Gen. Sec. Ban also noted that progress has been made in fighting impunity for crimes against humanity, with organizations such as the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda working to bring those responsible for the genocide to justice. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
Germany investigating former Auschwitz guards: On 8 April 2013, Germany plans to probe 50 former guards of the Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz. After the 2011 conviction of John Demjanjuk by a Munich court for aiding in the murder of at least 28,000 Jews at the Sobibor camp, chances are good to bring other guards to justice even if no eye witnesses can testify. The 50 men are all around 90 years old and live in various places in Germany. (For additional information on this topic, please click here).
President Otto Perez denies war crimes allegations: On 5 April 2013, Guatemalan President Otto Perez objected to testimonial evidence by referring to it as “a lie” during the trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. President Perez is not currently on trial but the evidence coming to the surface against the Montt also implicates Perez in having engaged in war crimes during the country’s 1960-1996 civil war.
Bemba trial resumes: On 5 April 2013, it was announced that the hearings in the trial of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba were set to resume today, April 8, most likely with the testimony of ‘Witness D04-21,’ who will testify via video link from an undisclosed location. The trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been on spring judicial recess since March 28.
Honduras case sent to IACHR: On 4 April 2013, it was announced that the IACHR filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case No. 12.548, Garífuna Community of “Triunfo de la Cruz” and its Members, Honduras. The facts of this case refer to the failure to act to protect the ancestral territory of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community from occupation and dispossession by third parties. This has triggered and maintained a situation of permanent conflict for the community due to actions in its territory by third parties, both private individuals and public authorities. The case was sent to the Inter-American Court on February 21, 2013, because the State had not informed the Commission on compliance with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits regarding this case.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, CAR, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Ivory Coast, jurisdiction, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on April 6, 2013
Three more witnesses refuse to testify against Kenyatta: On 5 April 2013, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda revealed that three more prosecution witnesses have refused to testify against Kenyan President-elect Uhuru Kenyatta. Bensouda has blamed the multiple witnesses refusing to testify on harassment and threats. The trial of Kenyatta, who is charged with crimes against humanity revolving around 2007-2008 post-election violence, is set to begin on July 11. It is unclear at this time how this will affect Kenyatta’s case going forth; some parties have called for the case to be sent back to the Pre-Trial Hearing to determine if there is enough evidence against Kenyatta to take the case to trial.
Krstic pleads not guilty at ICTY: On 4 April 2013, former Bosnian Serb Army officer Radislav Krstic plead not guilty to contempt of court for refusing to testify in the ICTY case against Radovan Karadzic. Krstic has declared that he won’t testify on behalf of Karadzic because of poor health. However, after investigation, the ICTY chamber stated that Krstic is mentally and physically fit to testify. In 2004 the ICTY sentenced Krstic to 35-years imprisonment for aiding and abetting genocide at Srbrenica in 1995.
Panama to face charges before Inter-American Court of Human Rights: On 26 February 2013, the IACHR began a case against Panama at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for alleged human rights abuses. Panama is accused of failing to meet its obligation to provide its indigenous peoples with “an adequate and effective procedure for access to their ancestral territory.” Further, the IACHR claims that Panama did not respond to interference by third parties in indigenous territories, amounting to discrimination. Panama’s case was referred to the Court because Panama had refused to comply with recommendations put forth by the IACHR.
African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights “strongly condemns” military takeover in CAR: On 4 April 2013, the ACHPR released a statement criticizing the military takeover in the Central African Republic. The statement indicated that the lives lost in the takeover were a serious violation of the rights guaranteed by the African Charter and that perpetrators of pillaging and armed violence should be brought before competent courts. The statement further said that the CAR military in charge must still meet its regional and international human rights commitments. Finally, the commission called on the international community, in particular the AU and Economic Community of Central African States, to take necessary steps to restore CAR to constitutional order.
HRW report criticizes Ivory Coast for biased implementation of justice: On 4 April 2013, Human Rights Watch released a report criticizing Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara for unevenly administering justice relating to 2010 post-election violence. The 2010 violence occurred when former President Laurent Gbago, who is currently facing war crimes charges before the ICC, refused to step down after losing the election, more than 3000 people were killed. Although Ouattara’s administration admits that his supporters committed human rights violations, none have been charged with crimes while the government has charged more than 150 Gbago supporters of crimes. The HRW report raises concern that such uneven administration of justice may have great negative impacts long-term. On a different note, on 4 April the Ivory Coast began an exhumation of the victims of the 2010 violence. The Justice Minister Genenema Coulibaly said that the exhumations will allow families to grieve and the country to hold transparent and fair trials. (For more on the topic, please click here.)
East African citizens call for expansion of EACJ jurisdiction: On 5 April 2013, Justice Johnson Busingye, the Principle Judge of the East African Court of Justice, declared that East African citizens have the right to work for an extension of the jurisdiction of the EACJ. East Africans have called for the EACJ—which has jurisdiction over matters of interpretation and applications of treaties, employment disputes, and commercial arbitration—to extend its jurisdiction to handle war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide cases. Busingye mentioned that some East Africans do not support the ICC because of conceptions that it is only targeting Africans; he declared that focusing on empowering regional courts might eliminate anxiety around the ICC.
Khmer Rouge Tribunal receives loan from international side of tribunal: On 5 April 2013, the international side of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal loaned $2-million to the Cambodia side of the tribunal so the court can continue its operations. The loan is a temporary fix that will keep more court staff from boycotting work. The tribunal’s money crisis occurs as the tribunal is trying two former Khmer Rouge Leaders, Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, the court’s second case since its inception in 2006. International donors have been reluctant to fund the court due to allegations of mismanagement and corruption.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in Crimes against Humanity, DRC, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, ICC, ICTY, immunity, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Other domestic courts, Post-Election Violence, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Torture, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 30, 2013
Slovak court commutes WWII criminal’s death sentence: On 28 March 2013, a Slovak court announced that the death sentence of 98 year old Laszlo Csataray, a World War II criminal, to life imprisonment. In 1948 Csataray was found guilty and sentenced to death in absentia for torturing Jews and organizing the deportation of nearly 16,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Csataray had lived as a fugitive until he was arrested by Hungarian authorities last year. The sentence was changed in order to comply with Slovak law, which abolished the death penalty in 1990.
Former Kenyan witness refuses to see ICC lawyers: On 24 March 2013, the lawyer for the Kenyan ICC witness who recently recanted his testimony stated that his client would not meet with ICC lawyers. The Office of the Prosecutor had written the witness asking for a meeting after the witness decided not to testify in the case against William Ruto. The former witness stated that ICC lawyers had tried to contact him directly and that he felt harassed. The Office of the Prosecutors denies the allegations put forward by the ex-witness.
Khmer Rouge tribunal confirms that defendant is fit for trial: On 29 March 2013, the UN-backed Cambodian war crime court confirmed that Nuon Chea, a former Khmer Rouge leader, was fit to stand trial even though he is “advancing [in] age and frailty.” Chea is charged, along with former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan, with crimes against humanity and war crimes for overseeing the “Killing Fields” that killed nearly two-million Cambodians during the 1970s. There have been concerns about the case continuing after co-defendant, Ieng Sary, recently passed away. The tribunal has struggled with funding, procedural, and political difficulties since its founding in 2006.
M23 allege that Ntaganda was attempting to take charge of group: On 28 March 2013, Rene Abandi, a spokesperson for Congolese rebel group M23, said that Bosco Ntaganda, currently under arrest at the ICC, was trying to take over the group. Abandi reported that there were fights between different factions of M23 after Ntaganda challenged the group’s military chief, Sultani Makenga. After Ntaganda lost the fight, he fled to the United States embassy in Rwanda where he requested to be sent to the ICC. The ICC has charged Ntaganda with war crimes and crimes against humanity including recruiting child soldiers, murder, rape, and pillaging.
Estonia ratifies crime of aggression amendment to Rome Statute: On 27 March 2013, Estonia became the fifth country to sign the crime of aggression amendment to the Rome Statute. Estonia’s UN representative Margus Kolga stated that ratifying the amendment is a “clear indication of the staunch support that Estonia has demonstrated towards the International Criminal Court.” If 30 state parties to the Rome Statute ratify the amendment, the ICC will be able to investigate the crime of aggression starting in 2017.
HRW calls on Sri Lankan government to investigate Deputy Minister’s role in atrocities: On 28 March 2013, Human Rights Watch called on the Sri Lankan government to investigate the role of Deputy Minister Karuna in war crimes committed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Recently Karuna, a former member of LTTE, has advocated for investigations of atrocities committed by the LTTE, but HRW states that Karuna is also responsible for committing war crimes, including mass murder, during the 26-year conflict in Sri Lanka. HRW alleges that Karuna has enjoyed immunity and he is only advocating for investigations into LTTE to silence his political opposition.
Former Bosnian Serb military leader sentenced to 45 years in prison: On 29 March 2013, a Bosnian war crime court sentenced former Bosnian Serb paramilitary leader Veselin Vlahovic to 45 years in prison, the maximum sentence. Vlahovic, commonly known as the Monster of Grbavica, was found guilty of murder, rape, and torture during the Bosnian War from 1992-1995. This is the highest sentence ever given in Bosnia. The war crimes department of the Bosnian court system was founded in 2005 to assist the overburdened ICTY.
Posted by cdelaubenfels in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, CAR, Crimes against Humanity, DRC, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, ICTY, Investigations, Kenya, Libya, News about the Courts, Rome Statute, Rwanda, South Sudan, Torture, Uganda, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 27, 2013
ICTY sentences Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin: On 27 March 2013, the ICTY sentenced Mićo Stanišić, former Minister of the Interior of Republika Srpska, and Stojan Župljanin, former chief of regional security forces, for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992. The men were each sentenced to 22 years in prison for the crimes committed across 20 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since its creation in 1993, the ICTY has indicted 161 persons and concluded proceeding for 136.
ICC Appeals Chamber confirms trial chamber’s modification of charges against Katanga: On 27 March 2013, the ICC Appeals Chamber ruled that the trial chamber’s modification in charges against Germain Katanga was allowed. The ICC has charged Katanga with three counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of war crimes in relation to attacks in the DRC. During Katanga’s proceedings, the prosecution re-characterized Katanga’s responsibility from ‘committing crimes through another person’ (Rome Statute Article 25(3)(a)) to ‘contributing in any way to the commission of crimes by a group of persons’ (Article 25(3)(d)). The Appeals Chamber held that the modification does not violate Katanga’s right to a fair trial.
DRC’s Ntaganda makes first appearance before ICC: On 26 March 2013, DRC rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda made his first appearance before the ICC. Ntaganda faces ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, murder, and using child soldiers. After having his charges translated to him, Ntaganda said he was not guilty of the crimes, however the judge cut him off, telling Ntaganda that he did not need to plead at this hearing. Human Rights Watch praised Ntaganda’s appearance in court, but stated that now the ICC must go after senior officials who act complicitly in the atrocities in Congo. The judge announced that Ntaganda’s pre-trial hearing, where the prosecution will provide their evidence against Ntaganda, would begin 23 September. (For additional information on this topic, please click here and here.
Zimbabwe found guilty of torture by African human rights court: On 25 March 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights released their ruling that the Zimbabwe government was responsible for the torturing of human rights lawyer, Gabriel Shumba, in 2003. The government of Zimbabwe now has 90 days to act on the decision by launching an investigation. The decision has been praised as a setting precedent against impunity. For many countries, including Zimbabwe, the Commission is the last human rights court that citizens can turn to when their own justice systems fail to protect. The commission also made rulings in regards to Zimbabwe’s failure to protect citizens from extra judicial killings and providing compensation in cases of wrongful killings.
Search for Kony continues after coup in CAR: On 26 March 2013, organizations involved in the search for Joseph Kony, the leader of the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army, said the search would not be interrupted by the coup in the Central African Republic. The search is under the auspice of the African Union and soldiers from Uganda, DRC, South Sudan, and CAR are all assisting. Kony and other LRA leaders are wanted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Kenyan witness accuses ICC of threats: On 23 Saturday 2013, former witness number 8 of the Kenyan ICC trials released a statement accusing the ICC of threatening him after he signed affidavits removing himself as a witness last week. The witness says that ICC officials have harassed him and demanded that he recant his affidavits. Further, the witness claims that the ICC prosecution has falsely attributed evidence to him. The prosecution has not responded to the allegations, which were published in a Nairobi news source.
Organization of American States strengthens Inter-American System of Human Rights: On 22 March 2013, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights. Features of the resolution include strengthening rapporteurships and urging all OAS member states (including the United States, Canada, and several others) to ratify or accede to all Inter-American human rights instruments, including accepting jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The United States released a press statement praising the steps taken to strengthen the Inter-American Human Rights System. (For additional information on this topic, please click here.)
Egypt and Libya sign agreement guaranteeing fair trials for extradited defendants: On 23 March 2013, the justice ministers for Egypt and Libya signed a legal and judicial memorandum guaranteeing fair trials for extradited defendants. The defendant protections include trials before ordinary courts according to international standards, detention on legal premises, and a right to defense during investigation and trial. On 26 March 2013, Egypt arrested and extradited three former Libyan-regime leaders including the ex-Libyan ambassador to Egypt, Ali Maria.
Posted by kchin2014 in African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, AU, Crimes against Humanity, ECCC, Fair trial/Accused's rights, Fatuo Bensouda, Gender crimes, Genocide, Human Rights Treaties and Charters, Human Rights Violations, ICC, Investigations, Kenya, News about the Courts, Post-Election Violence, Responsibility to Protect, Rome Statute, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Syria, Torture, Truth Commissions, UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Security Council, Victims, War Crimes, Witnesses on March 26, 2013
UN to investigate growing North Korean prison camps: On 26 March 2013, South Korean legislator Ha Tae-kyoung announced that he learned from an official at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that the UN is planning to launch an investigation into the growing number of North Korean prison camps. The investigation will employ satellite imaging technology provided by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research’s Satellite Applications Program (UNOSAT), along with witness testimony.
US official warns of US-led war crimes inquiry into Sri Lanka: On 25 March 2013, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert Blake indicated that, if the Sri Lankan government continues to shirk its responsibility to lead an “independent and credible” inquiry into the allegations of war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military against ethnic Tamil civilians, the United States may launch its own investigation.
Congolese warlord Ntaganda appears before ICC: On 26 March 2013, seven years after the court issued a warrant for his arrest, Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda appeared in before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to confirm his identity. Ntaganda, who faces allegations of recruiting child soldiers, murder, rape, ethnic persecution, and sexual slavery, surprised the world when he surrendered himself at the United States embassy in Rwanda last week. Many analysts suspect that Ntaganda’s surrender was precipitated by political changes that caused him to fear for his personal safety.
Experts declare former Khmer Rouge deputy fit for trial: On 25 March 2013, medical experts testified that, upon conducting physical and mental evaluations, 81-year-old Nuon Chea is fit to stand trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). Nuon Chea, known as “Brother Number Two,” was Pol Pot’s second-in-command during the bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge and the most senior Khmer Rouge official to stand trial before the court.
Zimbabwean government found guilty of torture: On 25 March 2013, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights notified the government of Zimbabwe that it has 90 days to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the 2003 torture of human rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba. The decision, finding the Zimbabwean government criminally liable, was made in May 2012 and approved by the Executive Council of the African Union in January 2013. In its decision, the African Commission said that Shumba had submitted “more than adequate evidence” to support his allegation of torture and ill-treatment, including being subjected to prolonged electric shocks in the mouth, genitals, fingers, toes and other parts of the body. The Commission said Zimbabwe failed to open an official investigation, ordering it to do so within 90 days and bring those responsible to justice.
Mr. Paul Gicheru – lawyer for the witness who recanted his testimony against Kenya’s Deputy President-Elect William Ruto- rejected a request to meet with ICC officials in Nairobi last week. Gicheru said he declined the meeting because he did not have his client’s permission to hold the meeting. “I have told them my client stands by his sworn affidavits and that there is no need for a meeting over this,” he said. Meanwhile, the witness claims to have received numerous calls requesting meetings with ICC officials, stating that his interactions have bordered on “harassment, intimidation and intruding into my private life.”