Archive for category SCSL

19 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

ICC Prosecutor urges Security Council action in Sudan: ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda briefed the U.N. Security Council this week on Darfur. The Chief Prosecutor expressed concern over the failure to enforce arrest warrants and apprehend suspects. Bensouda urged the Security Council to take decisivie action and bring to justice those accused of crimes against humanity. Bensouda also called for an independent inquiry into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfar was engaged in manipulations and cover ups. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (UN News Centre, Reuters).

UN Human Rights Council reports ongoing crimes in Syria, Iraq: Human Rights Watch reviewed evidence, including satellite images over the city of Aleppo, from October 31, 2013, and April 2, 2014, that strongly suggest the Syrian government used barrel bombs and other weapons in attacks against civilians. Other evidence showed that armed groups opposed to the government used child soldiers and turned schools into military bases and prisons. Human Rights Watch requested the Commission of Inquiry to take steps to punish those responsible and prevent the serious violations of international law. (For additional information about this topic, please click here.) (Human Rights Watch, Reuters).

Sri Lankan Parliament votes against UN Investigation: A motion rejecting a U.N. investigation into crimes committed in Sri Lanka during its 26-year civil war was approved by the Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday, 18 June 2014. 144 out of 225 members of Sri Lanka’s Parliament found the investigation would be “detrimental to the process of reconciliation and peace and [would] erode[] the sovereignty, dignity and statute” of the country. The motion is not binding on a U.N. investigation. (Washington Post).

UN Human Rights Commissioner Pillay concerned about war crimes in Iraq: Navi Pillay, the U.N. Human Rights Commissioner, released a statement on Monday, 16 June 2014, finding the executions committed by Islamist militants in Iraq to “almost certainly amount[] to war crimes.” In the past week, the militants seized the northern part of the country and threatened further violence. Pillay condemned the shocking crimes carried out and called for immediate action. (Reuters).

Charles Taylor appeals for prison relocation: Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has filed a motion with the Special Court for Sierra Leone arguing violations of his human rights for being sentenced to jail in the U.K. Taylor claims his family is unable to visit him in the U.K. and that it would be more “humane” for him to serve his sentence in Africa. The former Liberian President was convicted by the Special Court in 2012 for aiding rebels in Sierra Leone. (BBC).

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5 June 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Santiago steps down as ICC judge, cites health issues: Judge Miriam Defensor-Santiago is stepping down from the ICC due to health concerns; she announced in a letter addressed to President Sang-Hyun Song this week. Santiago was elected in December 2011, and was the first Asian from a developing country and first Filipino to sit on the Court. Santiago requested her letter to ICC President Song be distributed to all parties of the Rome Statute “with thanks.” (Business World Online).

African Attorney Generals seek more African judges at the ICC: At a meeting in Ethiopia last month, African Attorney Generals said they will push for more African judges at the ICC. Additionally, the AGs agreed to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the issue of presidential immunity. The AGs previously recommended an amendment to the Protocol of the Statute of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights to allow for presidential immunities. (the Star).

Special Court for Sierra Leone grants application for Senessie’s conditional early release: Yesterday, 4 June 2014, the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone granted Eric Koi Senessie an application for conditional early release. Senessie was convicted of contempt by the SCSL in June 2012, for bribery and interfering with a witness. Senessie received two years imprisonment after admitting his guilt in a formal statement to the SCSL. (the Hague Justice Portal).

Three Bosnian Serb former soldiers arrested for war crimes following mass grave discovery: Mitar Vlasenko, Rade Vlasenko and Drago Koncar were arrested today, 5 June 2014, in the northwestern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The three former Bosnian Serb soldiers are suspected of war crimes committed against Muslim Bosniaks during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict. The arrests stem from last year’s discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of some 1,000 victims. (Chicago Tribune).

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6 January 2014 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

US War Crimes Envoy Stephen Rapp travels to Sri Lanka:  US Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, will spend five days in Sri Lanka discussing rights and reconciliation following the decades-long separatist war.  Sri Lanka has resisted calls to investigate allegations that war crimes were committed with a estimated result of 100,000 lost between the years of 1972 and 2009.  (AFP).

ICC claim alleges military war crimes in Egypt:  The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has gone international with its complaint against the current Egyptian government.  A team of lawyers representing the Brotherhood has filed a complaint with the ICC alleging widespread crimes against humanity by the Egyptian military.  (For additional information on this topic, click here) (Globe and Mail, Daily News).

Ongoing Egypt unrest prompts arrest of MB sympathizers:  The Muslim Brotherhood has accused Egyptian police of plotting violent attacks to support an increase in arrests.  The Brotherhood denies that it practices violence.  However, the Egyptian authorities insist that the Brotherhood has sent members to the Gaza Strip to receive training from Hamas.  (Aljazeera).

SCSL concludes operations:  The Special Court of Sierra Leone closes its doors after 11 years of service.  Among other accomplishments, the trials saw first-ever convictions for attacks against UN peacekeepers, forced marriage as a crime against humanity, and for the use of child soldiers.  The success of the special court sets an important precedent for future courts and tribunals.  (For additional information on this topic, click here) (UN News, RTT News).

UN Commissioner applauds Nepal High Court in amnesty decision:  High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, welcomes the decision Nepal’s High Court to withhold amnesty for serious human rights violations committed during the country’s decade long civil war.  Pillay believes that this decision by the High Court will ensure that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will not be abused or delay criminal investigations and prosecutions of conflict-related cases.  (UN News).

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5 December 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

U.K. threatens Sri Lanka with international inquiry: The U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, warned Sri Lanka that if it did not investigate allegations of sexual violence committed by government forces during its 26-year civil war it would be subject to an international inquiry. Hague warned the country that it had until the Human Rights Council met in March to conduct an independent and credible investigation. Sri Lanka is one country that has not yet signed the U.K.’s declaration to end sexual violence during conflict. (Sunday Times).

Bosnian Serbs arrested for CAH: The Bosnian prosecution office has charged nine suspects with crimes against humanity related to the country’s 1992-1995 civil war. The nine Bosnian Serb policeman allegedly “expelled, deported, illegally imprisoned, tortured, or killed non-Serbian civilians . . . in a systematic campaign against the Muslim and Croatian populations.” Nearly 100,000 died and millions were replaced as a result of the civil war. (Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty).

Bemba restrictions lifted at ICC: An ICC judge has ordered the immediate lifting of detention restrictions placed on Jean-Pierre Bemba and his recently imprisoned lead defense counsel, Aime Kilolo-Musamba. During detention, the two had been restricted to 30 minute phone calls, one hour monitored visits with family, and an initial 72 hour of no contact. Bemba argued the restrictions violated his right to counsel and Kilolo said it prevented him from presenting an adequate defense. Kilolo was arrested in November on allegations of witness interference and forged evidence. (Bemba Trial).

ICC investigations flawed, says Kenyan lawyers: Lawyers met in Nairobi on Tuesday, 3 December 2013, to protest ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s handling of investigations into Kenya. The lawyers claimed Bensouda and her predecessor forged evidence and relied on unreliable witnesses. One lawyer was quoted as saying: “It appears as though the court was determined to confirm the charges and the prosecution was convinced that there were substantial grounds to proceed with the case even though the investigations were questionable.” The ICC is currently trying Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto and the case against the country’s sitting President will commence in February 2014. (All Africa).

Cooperation between ICTY and Serbia positive: It is expected the chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, will report positively to the U.N. Security Council on Serbia’s cooperation with the tribunal on Thursday, 5 December 2013. Brammertz met with officials in Serbia last month “to discuss transfer of documents and access to government archives and witnesses.” It appears the transition of matters between the ICTY and Serbia has gone smoothly and efficiently. Brammertz presents his findings twice a year to the Security Council. (In Serbia).

Bosnian war criminals to be released: A local court that issued judgements in over 100 cases since its establishment in 2005 to aid the ICTY is expected to release hundreds of Bosnian war criminals. In July 2013, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the local court erred in convicting and punishing accused under a 2003 criminal code. The ECHR concluded the court should have been applying a less stringent 1976 statute that was in force at the time the crimes were committed. The local court will now need to schedule retrials. (The Malay Mail).

Indonesia offers support to Cambodia and Thailand after ICJ verdict: Indonesia has pledged to aid Cambodia and Thailand as the two countries carry out the ICJ’s recent decision concerning the ownership of a Hindu temple.  Indonesia stated it was “ready to assist in whatever means if both countries ask for its support in implementing the ICJ order.” In November 2013, the ICJ granted Cambodia ownership of the temple located near the Cambodian-Thai border. (Phnom Penh Post).

Sierra Leone Residual Court elects Kenya’s Wiki as President: Kenya’s Phillip Waki was elected President of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone on 3 December 2013. Waki previously served as an alternate appeals judge at the SCSL and sat on the Kenyan Court of Appeals and High Court. Justice Jon Kamanda of Sierra Leone was elected as Vice President. (The Star).

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4 December 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Bensouda says ICC judicial institution only: The ICC will remain free from political interference, says ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Speaking at the ICC Assembly of States Parties last week, Bensouda said the court is an independent party and will implement amendments to the rules of procedure and evidence passed by the ASP. The ASP decided last week to amend the rules to permit Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to be represented by their attorneys during proceedings in The Hague. (All Africa).

New Sierra Leone Residual Court: The legacy of the Special Court of Sierra Leone was handed over to the government on Monday, 2 December 2013. The government will begin operating the Residual Court and continue matters of the SCSL, such as the case against former Armed Forces Revolutionary Council leader Johnny Paul Koroma. Nearly three million dollars has been made to the Residual Court by countries including the Netherlands and America. Former Prosecutor and now American Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Stephen Rapp said the new Court was “an important component in the justice system.” (Awoko).

HRW report focuses on Habre: On Tuesday, 3 December 2013, Human Rights Watch released a report charging the former dictator of Chad, Hissene Habre, with “systematic abuses.” It is reported the former dictator “directed and controlled political police, who tortured and killed those who opposed him or those who simply belonged to the wrong ethnic group.” Habre is being tried by a special court in Senegal for crimes against humanity and war crimes related to his 1982-1990 rule. (UPI).

ICTY 20th anniversary: ICC President Theordor Meron spoke at a conference in Bosnia last week celebrating the 20th anniversary of the ICTY. Meron faced protestors and victims of the early 1990s Bosnian War who displayed signs reading “R.I.P Justice.” Many protesters voiced disappointment in the court’s recent decisions to acquit of all charges senior leaders of the Yugoslav and Serbian army. Despite the opposition, Meron defended the tribunal and stated its work had “exceeded expectations.” (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).

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3 December 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

U.N. investigation of Syrian war crimes points to Assad and other senior officials: Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, announced on Monday, 2 December 2013 that UN investigations are increasingly revealing that senior Syrian officials, including President Bashar Assad, committed crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria. Pillay’s statements added to the growing pressure on Syria to take action before the peace conference set to take place in Geneva in January. Pillay also stated that the list of suspected criminals will remained sealed until national or international authorities request it in order to conduct a credible investigation and possibly commence prosecution. Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad rejected Pillay’s remarks. (The Washington Post).

Kilolo Musamba, Wandu, and Bemba appear before ICC: On 27 November 2013, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who were arrested and charged with having committed offences against the administration of justice in the trial of Bemba, appeared before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC. Judge Cuno Tarfusser confirmed the identity of the three suspects, explained the charges against them and their rights under the Rome Statute, and scheduled the confirmation of charges proceeding, which will determine whether the case will be heard before the Trial Chamber. Bemba is separately charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003; Kilolo Musamba was his lead counsel and Wandu was a member of the DRC Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the MLC. (ICC-CPI).

ASP issues resolution to amend ICC Rules: In its twelfth session, the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute (ASP) adopted eight resolutions, including a resolution on Amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Rule 68 has been amended to facilitate the use of prior recorded testimony in trial; Rule 100 now eases the ability of the Court to sit in a State other than the host State, as well as the decision to hear a case in whole or in part; and the newly adopted Rules 134 bis, ter and quater regulate the use of video technology, excusal from a defendant’s presence at trial, and a defendant’s excusal from presence at trial due to extraordinary public duties. The Rules were amended in order to improve the efficiency of the ICC while protecting defendants’ rights. Other resolutions concerned the 2014 budget, totaling 121.6 million euro; construction of the permanent premises of the ICC; cooperation to enhance expedition arrest of suspects; complementarity; the establishment of the Independent Oversight Mechanism; and strengthening the ICC and the ASP. (ICC-CPI).

Kenya will not submit Kenyatta records to ICC: On Monday, 2 December 2013, ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda accused Kenya of failing to comply with the Office of the Prosecutor’s (OTP) April 2012 request for Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s financial records and other relevant documents. Bensouda stated that the records are relevant to several issues in the trial, including the allegation that Kenyatta financed several of the crimes with which he is charged before the ICC. According to Bensouda, Kenya has refused repeated requests for these records for 19 months, which is why the OTP is now asking the judges in the trial to refer this matter to the ASP. (Expatica.com).

Trial Chamber requests list of first 10 witnesses against Kenyatta: On Monday, 2 December 2013, the judges presiding over Kenyatta’s trial instructed Bensouda to submit a list of the first 10 witnesses she will call in the prosecution of Kenyatta, as well as the order in which they will be called, by 16 December 2013. Once the trial begins on 5 February 2014, the OTP must submit monthly updates of its witness list to the Trial Chamber. Even though the Trial Chamber would like both the prosecution and defense to limit their questioning of each witness to four hours, it is expected that the prosecution will question 32 witnesses over the course of 190 hours, and that the defense will take about 400 hours to cross-examine all of the prosecution witnesses. (Capital News).

Seselj demands dismissal of trial and compensation: Following the disqualification of Judge Frederik Harhoff, Serbian politician Vojislav Seselj demanded that the ICTY throw out the case against him and compensate him with 12 million euro. He is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia, and had opposed the replacement appointment of Judge Mandiaye Niang, arguing that such a replacement should not occur a few months before the rendering of the judgment, since the new judge was unfamiliar with the trial. The prosecution countered with the precedent of the case against Slobodan Milosevic, in which a judge had stepped down at a late stage in the proceedings, and his replacement had certified that he had familiarized himself with the trial record. The prosecution therefore requested that the proceedings continue as soon as Judge Niang has familiarized himself with the existing record. (Institute for War & Peace Reporting).

Human Rights Watch calls on ICC to expedite Afghanistan investigation: Following the ICC’s conclusion in November that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch urged the OTP of the ICC to expedite its inquiry into these crimes. Specifically, Human Rights Watch called for a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan, both to collect testimonies and to improve communication with the Afghan government and various international organizations. The investigation began in 2007, during which time the OTP has considered whether or not to formally investigate these alleged crimes. (Firstpost).

Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone judges sworn in: On Monday, 2 December 2013, 16 judges were sworn in for the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, which will replace the SCSL. The U.N. Secretary General appointed ten judges, and the government of Sierra Leone appointed six judges, all of whom will serve part-time on a roster. Witnessed by Sierra Leonean Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Franklyn Bai Kargbo and UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Miguel de Serpa Soares, the judges promised they would “without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, serve as a Judge of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone honestly, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously.” The Residual Court will resolve the ongoing obligations of the SCSL, which is due to close later this month. (Africa News).

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19 November 2013 – NEWS ABOUT THE COURTS

Unnamed witness called by judges testifies in Bemba trial: A witness under the pseudonym “Witness CHM-01” testified at the trial against Jean-Pierre Bemba on Monday, 18 November 2013 before the ICC. The judges, as allowed by Articles 64 and 69, had called the witness; none of the parties in the trial had called him to provide evidence, even though several witnesses from both sides had mentioned his name. The witness is testifying through a video link from an undisclosed location. It is not yet clear how the witness was involved in the MLC. Mr. Bemba is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003. (Open Society Justice Initiative).

African Court to hold conference to raise awareness: The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights is organizing a continental conference in order to raise awareness about the court’s activities and promote human rights in African states. The Court feels that it has been underutilized; in seven years, it has only handled 28 petitions concerning contentious matters and five requests for advisory opinions. Senior officials believe that this under-utilization is due to the fact that the individuals and entities who are allowed to bring petitions before the Court are largely unaware of its existence. The conference will be attended by the president and judges of the court, representatives from international organizations, and Professor Makame Mbarawa, the Tanzanian Minister of Communication, Science and Technology. (Tanzania Daily News).

Leaders urge Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes following summit: During the Commonwealth Summit, which was held in Sri Lanka over the course of three days, several human rights groups appealed to world leaders to pressure Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to investigate war crimes that allegedly took place during and after the civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was in attendance, stated that it would be possible for Sri Lanka to set up a war crimes tribunal before March, to which President Rajapaksa responded that Sri Lanka had started investigations, but that this process will take longer than a few months. He had previously stated that his troops did not commit war crimes during the conflict, which lasted 26 years. Secretary Hague’s comments followed UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s condemnation of the alleged war crimes, and his warning of a UN-led investigation should Sri Lanka fail to launch an independent inquiry. (To read more about this topic, please click here.) (Voice of America, BBC).

Nine AU states may be barred from voting on Rome Statute amendments: The ICC announced that nine out of its 122 members are in arrears and will therefore be unable to vote in this week’s Assembly of State Parties meeting in The Hague. Though the list of states has not been officially released, Tanzania, Senegal, Niger, Ghana, Gabon, Djibouti, Comoros, Guinea, and Liberia are all indebted to the Court and may lose their voting rights. These votes may be necessary to amend the ICC rules of procedure laid out in the Rome Statute, an effort Kenya is leading in order to excuse President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto from attendance at their trials, to amend Article 27 to grant sitting heads of governments immunity, and to amend Article 70 so that court officials can be charged with offenses against administration of justice and the powers of the Independent Oversight Mechanism may be expanded. If all 122 members attend the meeting, Kenya needs 81 members to support its proposals. (The Star).

Botswanan judge appointed to Sierra Leone court: On 16 October 2013, the Botswanan Administration of Justice announced that Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, appointed the Hon. Justice Dr. O.B.K. Dingake as a judge on the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, which is continuing the mandate of the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Justice Dingake is a jurist and scholar, and will sit on the Court as required by the president of the Court. (Government of Botswana).

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